Pre-employment screening in 2022
January 4th, 2022 by Jonathan Bazely
As we all emerged from lockdown into a different kind of world and what at times felt like a different kind of workplace, there were many positives to take. It was amazing to see some of the changes within the DBS checking and pre-employment checking industry, when everyone was united by the common goal of keeping the UK moving through difficult times. The team at Due Diligence Checking Ltd were ready to accept this challenge and push ourselves to deliver services that met with the ever-changing requirements and the needs of our clients.
DDC Director Jonathan Bazely summarises his highlights from 2021 and provides his thoughts on the future of pre-employment screening as we lead into 2022.
Looking back at 2021:
Relaxed document checking processes
At the start of the pandemic the Home Office took the decision to allow relaxed document checks to be undertaken, with a requirement to view original documents at a later time. After some industry pressure they conceded that for right to work checks, retrospective checking would no longer be practical, given the volume of applications involved. This led to the amended guidance that allowed recruiting organisations to note which applications were applied for under the relaxed guidelines, with no requirement to recheck original documents at a later date. This was all done on the proviso that this was an optional relaxation that each organisation should assess individually for their circumstances. It was really pleasing to see this ‘common sense’ approach to supporting the recruitment process as we emerged from the pandemic, with a fine balance struck to allow employers to choose if they wished to accept this relaxed process.
Identity verification updated for Brexit
This year has seen quite a lot of change within the right to work checking part of the business, as Brexit requirements took hold, there was a shift to UK and Irish documents, rather than EEA documents. Both the Home Office and DBS made a clear attempt to distance document checking requirements from each other. We released numerous articles to highlight this change and help clients to identify where someone could provide documents for a right to work check, but these would not meet the DBS requirements This led to greater separation of these services and clearer results through the DDC portal. To accommodate a lot of client requirements we improved the system to ensure data was repurposed for multiple uses and to keep the applicant journey as smooth as possible.
Challenges with reference checking
With the furlough scheme in full flow we noticed quite a considerable drop in the response rates from organisations when returning references or qualification information. What was previously an average turnaround time of 6 days went up to 11 and then 15, over consecutive quarters. It was not uncommon for us to hear that those working from home could not access secure personnel files, but would do so when they were next in their place of work. This was exacerbated with a lot of organisations closing down, meaning results would never be returned. The team worked hard to apply additional resource and processes to quickly identify any application taking longer than expected, and liaise with the client and applicant to obtain other evidence. It was pleasing to see that the efforts were rewarded with a return to average response rates of 6 days per reference. As always, the team monitor application return times with internal KPIs to ensure clients obtain references as quickly as possible, while balancing the additional verification processes to ensure quality is at the forefront of everything we do.
Automated withdrawals for criminal record checks
During the later part of 2021 the DBS took the decision to automatically withdraw applications where they held previous details that did not match the current form submission. This was done under the assumption that the current application was submitted incorrectly and that previous applications were correct. This led to a great number of applications being withdrawn by the DBS with no ability for the Countersignatory Team at DDC to liaise with the client or applicant to confirm details. The team spotted this trend in withdrawn applications and quickly raised the query with the DBS. In early December 2021 the DBS reverted this change and have agreed to re-look at this withdrawal process with greater consultation with Umbrella Bodies. We are pleased that we will have the opportunity to utilise our 20 years of experience and represent our clients needs on this proposed process change within the DBS.
Award winning team
DDC are current members of the Chamber of Commerce which presented the opportunity to enter the business into several award categories. This built on the 2020 achievement for making it to the final for the Excellence in Customer Service Award. The team entered the Business Improvement through Technology category and were delighted to be named as winners in the early December Award Ceremony at the Leicester Tigers RFC Ground. This award sits proudly in our entrance way, for all the team to see on the way into the offices, as a sign of their hard work and dedication.
Looking forward to 2022
Digital identity checks projects
We have released some details about digital identity and through 2021 we have been working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of their pilot. This involved mock audits against a common set of rules which can be used across multiple industries (think of this as the framework by which all other frameworks will operate). In addition to this we have been working with the DBS on their Identity Trust Scheme as they undertake an ambitious plan to enable first release on their digital identity framework in early 2022. At the time of writing this scheme is currently going through ministerial approval before being released imminently. We certainly hope this will happen in very early 2022 to coincide with the current ‘relaxed right to work document checking guidance‘ ending on 5th April 2022.
Digital identity system improvements
As the framework is released there are a number of processes that DDC need to undertake to achieve accreditation against the digital identity profiles, and be approved by the DBS. As it stands, we have invested heavily in attaining compliance and need the final version of the framework to be officially approved and released, to really get stuck in to this project.
Changing trends in the industry
Linked with the above future improvements, we expect to see some huge changes in the industry as criminal record checking processes get much faster. A lot will depend on the specific requirements of the digital identity frameworks and the DBS have reported that they expect there will be a slow take up as the industry reacts to the new and emerging possibilities. As a service provider we are always looking at ways to improve what we do, and building systems for the future. So far there have been mixed reactions to this emerging technology and we will strive to meet our clients’ requirements as always. Our current improvement cycle will make these new services available to those clients wanting to take advantage, with the current systems remaining fully available for those who do not. The DBS, when looking at similar implementations, in other countries estimate that it will take 2 to 3 years before 50% of people are able to undertake fully digital verification at the required confidence levels.
Growth of basic checks
The DBS have predicted further growth with basic level checks, to expand the volume requested from 2 million to 5 million per year, over the next few years. This is certainly something we have experienced as more and more organisations look to improve their pre-employment and safeguarding processes. We expect this to move in line with the digitisation of the onboarding process, and the increased demand for our reference, right to work, credit, social media, identity check services.
What’s next for DDC?
As we look to the future and beyond, we want to wish all our clients, applicants and colleagues a prosperous 2022. We are currently working on some exciting new services and system improvements to ensure we stay at the forefront of ‘everything pre-employment’.
If you have questions about the information above, please get in touch with one of the team via our ‘contact us’ page.