An overview of BS7858 employment screening

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Employment Screening to support the British Standard BS 7858:2012 for the security sector, below is an overview of the screening requirements.


The BS 7858 standard for the security sector is maintained by the British Standards Institute (BSi). The standard has been designed for the screening of anyone employed to work within a security environment such as guarding, alarm installation & maintenance, security surveillance, and related services.


An overview of BS 7858:2012


The BS 7858:2012 standard (code of practice) came into effect from November 2012, this standard has superseded BS7858:2006 which ceased to be accepted after 30 April 2013.

As with the BS 7858:2006 standard the elements of financial background 5 years employment history and criminal records checks still apply, however there is now more rigor in the application of the screening. Below is a summary of some key changes to the standard.

  • Financial background checks need to include linked postal address searches.
  • Verification of address to be sought where an individual is opted out of the electoral register.
  • CCJs limit increased from £5,000 to £10,000 before an authorised company executive signs to accept the risk.
  • Any ‘unverified periods’ ( e.g. between employments) of more than 31 days must be subject to further evidence for activity. 
  • The total ‘unverified periods’ must not exceed 6 months, this is a significant change from the previous screening standard.
  • Sources of written references need to be assessed to be sure they are genuine.
A key factor for employers will be to ensure that applicants provide complete and accurate information prior to commencing employment otherwise there is a real risk the applicant will later fail their screening and create a situation where their employment may need to be terminated.

 

An overview of the previous standard, BS 7858:2006 + A2


The 7858:2006 standard was based on the guiding principle is that employers should not employ anyone whose history is considered to be at risk in that the individual "would be unlikely to resist the opportunities for illicit gain" or they would be unlikely to resist "opportunities for creating any other breach of security, which such employment might offer".

The employment screening standard takes into consideration that no system of security screening can provide absolute certainty about an individual's integrity, however the onus is on the employer to take every endeavor to establish the integrity of its personnel.

The security screening process requires:

  • Obtaining evidence of an individual's experience
  • Obtaining evidence of an individual's background and character
  • All data needs to be held to maintain confidentiality
  • A separate screening file is required for each individual
  • Verification of an individual's identity
  • Verification of previous employment, education, or unemployment history
  • Character references obtained (these cannot be family members or persons residing at the same address)
  • Criminal records check (subject to Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974)
  • Financial background relating to any court judgments (eg CCJs) or bankruptcy

There are other factors to consider in the screening process, in particular verification of an gaps in employment, education, or unemployment, that are more than 28 days. Where gaps of more than 28 days exist these need to be verified in accordance with the standard.

As an employer there are exceptions where a non conformance identified can be accepted as a managed risk, one such example is any court judgments totaling a value in excess of £5,000. In such cases an appropriate executive of the organisation can sign to accept the risk. Where this happens a record needs to kept on the individual's screening file.

 


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