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Pharmacy Worker police checks in Australia

Start a new police check (Individual Portal)
Sign up for Business Portal (Employers & HR)

Modern medicine has drastically improved human existence - from doubling the average life expectancy in less than a century to providing vaccines that prevent several deadly diseases. The pharmaceutical industry has been pivotal in this health-wise transformation.

Even better, the pharmaceutical industry is a significant employer of labour, employing more than 70,000 Australians. Furthermore, by investing heavily in research and development of new medicines, the pharmaceutical industry is a substantial boost to the Australian economy, valued at $25.25 billion as of 2020.

From scientists to microbiologists and technicians, the industry attracts the brightest talents that drive the frontiers of medicine. That's the only way they can fulfil the high expectations. Hence, pharmaceutical companies are selective in their hiring process. Their rigorous background checks help them assess applicants' professional and personal history to make informed decisions.

Police checks are a crucial component of this process. In this page, we explore all you need to know about pharmacy workers' police checks in Australia - from what they are to why they're essential and how individuals and HR workers in businesses can get one.

Page Contents

What is a Pharmacy Worker police check?

While there are different police checks, the Australian pharmaceutical industry mainly uses the nationally coordinated criminal history check (NCCHC). The NCCHC essentially shows the criminal history of an applicant. This history is called disclosable court outcomes (DCOs). In the scenario you have no DCO, the police check returns a No Disclosable Court Outcome (NDCO). DCOs include criminal convictions and sentences, traffic offences resolved in court, pending charges and active good behaviour bonds.

Why is the NCCHC adopted in the Pharmaceutical Industry?

As noted earlier, the pharmaceutical industry is an employer of a vast array of expertise. Common examples include:

Now you understand how massive the industry is. Here are some ways the NCCHC helps pharmacy employers optimise hiring decisions.

✔ Ensuring workplace safety

One primary goal of savvy employers is to ensure workplace safety. Pharmaceutical companies are no exceptions. Since the NCCHC shows the criminal history of an applicant, employers can figure out if their record makes them unsuitable for the role.

For instance, a person with aggressive tendencies may make a terrible lab scientist. Why? Imagine a scenario where they get into an altercation with a coworker and attack with potentially dangerous chemicals. Here's another example. A repeat sexual offender will make a lousy staff because they are more likely to harass coworkers. Again, a person with multiple traffic-related offences will be a poor choice for a driving-related role.

Thankfully, an NCCHC helps employers limit their risk of hiring an individual that may threaten workplace safety.

✔ Avoiding Theft

Workplace theft is a serious problem across all industries. However, it is even a more severe problem in the pharmacy industry. Why is that? The pharmaceutical sector runs on trade secrets. That's why the compositional makeup of novel medicines is shrouded in mystery. However, these secrets are vital because they help pharmaceutical companies recoup their massive investment in R&D through the sales of their drugs.

What will happen if an unscrupulous senior technician reveals this information to a competition? This could result in millions or billions of dollars in lost revenue. Hence, pharmaceutical employers ensure that workers with access to such information must be honest. With an NCCHC, employers can see if an applicant has a history of work-related theft. That way, they can stay away from such individuals.

✔ Ensuring the safety of consumers

The pharmaceutical industry produces medicines that millions or even billions of people use. Hence, any slip-up in this medicine can have a negative impact on the lives of several people. That's why new drugs usually have rigorous clinical trials and approval processes.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is the regulatory authority for therapeutic goods such as medicines, diagnostic tests, and medical devices in Australia. Imagine a scenario where corrupt individuals in the regulatory body take a bride to approve a trial drug prematurely. Such reckless behaviour may spell doom for many. A NCCHC can help weed out applicants with a record of bribery and corruption convictions.

✔ Reputation protection

A reputable company's name is essential for public trust, growth, and client satisfaction. A police check helps employers add an extra layer of risk mitigation. This due diligence prevents jeopardising the business and its people. Police checks prove to all parties involved that the company is committed to their safety. It also helps avoid negative media in the future, which can be suicidal for a pharmaceutical company.

✔ Avoid legal liabilities

For certain positions in the pharmacy industry, conducting police checks is the law. Hence, failure to do so can result in hefty fines. This motivates pharmaceutical companies to take police checks even more seriously.

Does a criminal record affect your chances in the pharmacy industry?

First, it's best to have a clean criminal record when applying for a role in the pharmaceutical industry because of their stringent hiring policy. However, hope is not lost if you have a criminal history.

Australia's anti-discriminatory laws make it illegal for employers to discriminate based on criminal records, particularly if the offence has no bearing on the role in question. For instance, your traffic offences should not affect your application to a customer rep role or any other role that doesn't involve driving.

A good tip is to conduct an NCCHC. That way, you can see what shows up on your police check certificate, guiding you to wisely choose roles to apply to without severely affecting your chances of employment. 

Applying for a nationally coordinated criminal history check in Australia

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) is responsible for coordinating nationally coordinated criminal history checks in Australia. They contract with accredited bodies (ACIC-accredited agencies) (e.g. Australian National Character Check, ANCC), the Australian Police Force and Australia Post - to make police checks accessible to Australians.

Once you submit your details and necessary identification documents through your means of choice, your information is run through ACIC's criminal database. This process extracts your criminal history, and the result is summarised on your police certificate. Sometimes, however, your application can be sent for manual reviewing.

Here are more details on how applying for NCCHC works with different bodies:

✔ ACIC-accredited agencies

ACIC-accredited agencies such as ANCC typically offer online applications. All you need to do is fill up an online application form, upload soft copies of the necessary identification documents and make the payment.

ANCC's base price for a NCCHC is $48.90.

How can I obtain a police check with ANCC?

Australian National Character Check is an ACIC accredited provider that provides reliable and affordable NCCHCs to pharmacy workers and other professionals through its:

✔ Individual Portal

This option is best suited for individuals in the Pharmaceutical industry that want to perform a nationally coordinated criminal history check on themselves. Doing so is advisable because it allows for adequate self-assessment before applying for any roles in the industry. That way, you can select positions you're more suited for. Moreover, you can be better prepared to answer questions about your criminal history should they arise in the hiring process.

You can obtain an NCCHC certificate online through ANCC's police check application. The application form will ask for your legal name, contact details, the purpose of the check, work location and other information. The results will be dispatched to you via email once the check is complete.

✔ Business Portal

Business applicants can open a Business Account and order police checks in bulk via the Business Portal. This process makes it seamless for companies to conduct police checks on new hires and current employees. However, businesses must first undergo an approval process before they can gain access to ANCC's business portal.

Once the candidate is uploaded to the business portal, ANCC automatically sends them an invite to complete their online application. ANCC then checks and uploads the result in the company's business portal. That way, employers can manage, track, view, and access an applicant's criminal history from their portal.

Contact ANCC's business and enterprise partnership team to find out how you can set up a business portal for your pharmaceutical company.

How long is an NCCHC valid for pharmaceutical jobs?

Technically speaking, police checks do not have an expiry date. However, they are point-in-time checks, meaning they only contain information up until the check was conducted. Hence, the farther the time of the check, the less relevant it becomes since it will not include recent convictions (if there are any).

That's why employers set a validity period as part of their policy. Since the pharmaceutical industry has a strict policy, most companies in the sector will not accept police checks older than three months. However, do well to check with your prospective employer.