“Must I get consent from the applicant before I do background checks?”

Simangele Mzizi, Fsp Business, 17 Oct. 2014

Tags: conducting background checks, recruitment, background checks

Our experts get a lot of questions about conducting background checks.

This is quite positive because it means employers want to make sure they’re hiring the right person for the job. And most importantly, they want to know what they can and can’t legally do when conducting these checks.

One question that keeps coming up is whether or not it’s important to get consent from the applicant before doing background checks.

If you want to find out the answer too, here’s what you need to know.

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The A-Z of legal recruitment

  • Did you know there are 11 legal requirements for recruitment?
  • Do you know how the Employment Equity Act affects your job advertisement?
  • Do you know what checks you can legally conduct on an applicant?
  • Are you sure your employment contract includes the 16 clauses the law says you must have?

If you don’t have all of these aspects correct, you’ll be on the wrong side of the law when it comes to your recruitment process.



It’s advisable to get the applicant’s written consent to do background checks

According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, you’re entitled to relevant public information, but it’s always best to access the information with the written consent of the individual.
To make this easier, you can put a clause in your application forms that allows you to do background checks. Alternatively, you can include this clause in your employment contracts.

This means you’ll be able to do checks when you think it’s necessary. Just make sure applicants sign the clause.
It’s best to be open from the start with applicants about the fact that you’ll conduct background checks. The transparency will deter individuals who know they’ve got negative criminal or credit histories and may prompt them to disclose the facts.

Now that you know it’s important to get the applicant’s written consent to do background checks, find out when you should do background checks… 

You must do background checks before you commit to employing the applicant
You can either do these checks after a first interview or after a second interview if you follow a two step interview process. There are no hard and fast rules.

PS: For more information on conducting background checks and recruitment, get your hands on Recruitment: The Complete Guide.

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