This week we shall discuss a subject that is not taken seriously by many employers in both the developed and developing economies, to their pain. The subject of Background Check for employees is critical to the prevention of fraud, workplace violence, sexual harassment, etc. Yet it is overlooked by many, either out of ignorance or in considerations of costs.
A couple of months ago in the USA, a company driver that had been indicted for misusing company vehicle and had been informed he would face a Disciplinary Committee, arrived at the hearing armed with a gun which he hid out of sight. When the hearing progressed, and he saw he was going to be sacked, he excused himself to use the toilet and used the opportunity to pick his gun from where he had hidden it. On getting back inside, he shot at members of the panel. Police check later revealed that the man had a history of violence and had been jailed once. A simple background check would have singled him out as someone to be watched closely, if employed at all.
Money spent on background check of new employees is money wisely spent. It could save money on litigation by families of victims of workplace violence, and prevent fraud by keeping away people with troubled financial backgrounds.
Background Check, or Vetting as it is sometimes called, involves confirming bio-data elements as supplied by a potential employee (or current employee in the case of re- vetting). These elements include Date and Place of Birth, family background, schools attended and period of attendance, qualifications obtained, employment history, financial stability, neighborhood history, criminal records checks, places frequented, companies kept, and confirmation of referees, among others. Together, these elements give the Whole Person picture of the subject.
It is generally agreed that most CVs contain at least one false item. Whether this false item is critical will depend on what role the potential employee is being considered for. The result of a background check will determine whether an employee should be given a position of trust, or whether an already employed person should continue to occupy a position of trust.
Rather than forgo background check altogether, we would recommend a limited check. A limited check could (depending on the area of concern to the employer) be schools attended and qualifications obtained, criminal records check, confirmation of referees ( to ensure they are not fake and that they are willing to stand as guarantors).
In conclusion, employees should consider what risks they run ( of loss through fraud and internal theft, of litigation, workplace violence, loss of integrity, low morale among the workforce, etc) when they overlook background checks, instead of what costs they incur when they do. A stitch in time could save nine.