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  • When should employers ask for a police check?

    Modern requirements for recruiting candidates include a condition that the candidate submits their Police Check certificate. It serves as an authentic and standard background check for most employers across Australia.

    However, one of the problems employers face is knowing when to demand these Police Check certificates.

    The best time to request a Police Check is when the final candidates are shortlisted. There are many benefits and purposes to requesting a Police Check at this point. Some of them include;

    • Saves business resources

    Asking for a Police Check from the few shortlisted candidates allows your organisation to assign resources wisely. At this point, the candidates are fewer, and the process is nearing completion. Evaluating the Police Check of these few candidates will save human and energy resources than considering the entire (initial) applicants.

    • Saves organisation/candidate’s expenses

    Running a background check (Police Check) is no small expense irrespective of the party conducting it. It would be easier on both parties if they only request the Police Check for candidates who qualify in all other areas and are likely to get picked.

    The organisation will also incur more expenses by streamlining lots of Police checks when they only need to assess a few.

    • Reduced Risk of flouting Privacy laws

    With lots of Police Check certificates to evaluate, there may be a tendency to slip up information. Managing too many Police Check certificates without a proper process can become problematic for an organisation, and there is the risk of losing confidential information.

    A candidate also risks exposing their confidential information even when they may not be recruited.

    After Employment

    Some employers operating in high risk environments should not only request a Police Check before application or during recruitment stages. It is common practice to request a Police Check for those already employed. The common practice is to request a Police Check at least once every 12 months, depending on the critical nature the person performs.

    Regular Police/Background Checks should be part of many organisation’s internal risk mitigation strategy.

    Also, an organisation holds the right to terminate its agreement with any staff who refuses to provide an updated Police Check. The organisation must have stated in a duly signed agreement that employees must provide frequent and updated Police Checks.

    However, organisations must be cautious about terminating agreements based on a Criminal History Check. The organisation must ensure they follow due process and must not disregard any industrial or Fair Work laws.

    Can an Employer apply for the Police Check?

    Yes, many government-approved agencies (ACIC agencies) allow approved corporate bodies to request a Police Check on behalf of the applicant. However, the applicant must grant explicit permission (informed consent) for the organisation to conduct the Police Check.

    Although there is no fixed period in a recruitment process where the employer should request a Police Check, the few reasons above support the Police Check as an assessment for the final shortlisted candidates.

    Should an employer request other information outside a Police Check?

    In general, it is not recommended for an employer to ask for other personal information from the candidate before or outside of a standard criminal history check unless mandated by law. All necessary criminal history information from the employer should be requested through a valid Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

    Where the organisation request such details

    Where the employer deems it necessary to request the candidate's criminal history details in the preliminary application, they must satisfy some criteria.


    • The questions must be related to the role.

    In cases of urgent recruitment or addition, the organisation may want to save the time of stages of disqualifications. However, any questions they ask regarding the candidate's record must reference the role they apply for.

    The questions must be specific. It may be wrong to ask questions about matters that have no concern to the roles they apply.


    • The terms must be clear

    When demanding this preliminary information, your organisation must be transparent with the candidate in how they attempt to use the information. It must spell out correctly the common purpose of requesting the specific record.


    • Offences are specific

    It is wrong to ask about a record in the preliminary stage and generalise them. The request for a record at this stage must be specific and crucial. Asking for specific results reduces the risk of discriminatory practices.

    For example, these questions should consider cases like;

    How can I obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

    Individuals

    If you are an individual, you can obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check online via Australian National Character Check’s application and informed consent form. The results are dispatched via email.

    Business and Enterprise Customers

    Business and Enterprise customers are able to sign up to ANCC’s business portal where they can order, manage, track and view candidates’ police check results on their business portal.

    Organisations will undergo a process of approval prior to being granted access to ANCC’s business portal for the purpose of criminal history checks.

    ANCC sends an invite to the applicant to complete their background check online and handles the application and informed consent form. Contact ANCC’s business and enterprise partnerships team today to enquire about setting up a business portal for your organisation.

    Sources

    Australian Human Rights Commission (Human Rights: On the record: Recruitment (Chapter 5)) - https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/human-rights-record-recruitment-chapter-5

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