Pre-employment screening in 2023
January 16th, 2023 by Jonathan Bazely
We’re kicking off 2023 by reflecting on some key updates, changes and our achievements throughout 2022. In this wrap-up article, DDC Director Jonathan Bazely summarises his highlights from 2022 and provides his thoughts on what might be happening in pre-employment screening in 2023:
2022 felt like a more stable year within the pre-employment screening industry, with an opportunity to upgrade services and deliver on some long-standing company aims. This built on some of the changes which happened quickly in 2021. The team focused on integrating any changes that were made permanent, and built flexibility where covid adjusted deadlines were extended.
Much of 2022 was about getting back to our core of delivering the services our clients wanted to see, together with taking advantage of emerging markets. To be viable all of these changes had to offer greater value to clients.
Looking back at 2022
Updates to Right to Work documents
Throughout 2022 there were several updates to the list of acceptable Right to Work documents that the Home Office would accept. This included allowance for digital identity, the changing documents post Brexit and a move to online and share code processes for visa holders. This was largely accepted as a positive change to allow digital processes to take over from legacy paper checking systems. There is still some work to go and the team are still driving further positive change. It has become potentially easier for non-UK applicants to demonstrate a right to work, when compared to some UK applicants without relevant documents. This is something that needs addressing within the right to work sector.
The DBS announced in the early part of 2022 that they would be reviewing their pricing structure. The aim was to ensure the prices charged for this public service reflected the cost of delivering the checks. It was pleasing to see that all levels of check were reduced in price. There was some feedback from clients as to the short timescales involved. As with most Home Office level changes there was a requirement for Government approval which was confirmed part way through March 2022 for a 6th April change date. The accounts and customer service teams at DDC worked hard to ensure clients were informed, and refund processes were undertaken where necessary.
Extension to the free and fast-track Covid related checks
As part of the pandemic countermeasures the healthcare regulators (NMC, HCPC, GMC and GPhC) looked to support recruitment into those industries by opening up the emergency registers. As a result, roles relating to covid could obtain a free of charge DBS check, and access rapid checks of the barring lists. During 2022 the DBS announced a gradual end to these checks. This decision was reversed after some feedback, with another review date set for March 2023. DDC represented clients in these feedback discussions and the effectiveness asking the care and health sectors to absorb higher recruitment costs, at a time when pressures still existed to fill roles. It is still the DBS’s position that these roles should be restricted and directly relate to covid requirements. We have received guidance that reviews will be conducted by the DBS together with Umbrella Bodies, to ensure appropriate applications are being submitted.
Upgrades to reference checking tools
At the end of 2022 we transitioned to our third iteration of the reference checking software which allowed clients to take greater control of their processes, and have greater visibility on the work we are undertaking. This included features to allow clients to upload references that were sent directly to them for DDC to complete the verification steps. There was a large package of updates across this service in response to client requests, and areas where the team felt we could improve response rates, security and quality of the final reports. As with all the pre-employment screening services on offer we will continue to improve and refine our offering so clients can see real value in our support.
DDC turns 20
On a lighter note, 2022 was the year we officially turned 20! It is strange to look back and think that the business was formed in the same year that the CRB (as it was known at the time) was formed. The business has grown so much since those early days as technology has improved, services have progressed and we’ve listened and responded to our clients’ needs. Criminal record checks are still one of our core services but it’s great to know that we can now offer clients up to 15 different checks to complement their pre-employment screening requirements. We held some internal events to mark the occasion, including our annual summer BBQ. It was great to bring together current and former team members to remember our early days and how the business has blossomed over the years. We look forward to servicing our clients’ needs for another 20 years!!
So what’s happening in 2023
Digital identity checks
Most clients should have seen some details released about digital identity and how it can be used in the right to work and DBS application processes. Part way through 2022 we appointed an auditor to assess our processes and systems to deliver a digital identity service. To meet DBS framework requirements, providers have to be certified against the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Identity Trust Framework. This is a 5 day audit process by a UKAS recognised auditor. We successfully completed the first four days of the audit in October 2022 and in early 2023 the final day was also successful. Now certified we will be able to release our DDC ID app and begin on-boarding organisations to this new service. The team have worked very hard to ensure a seamless journey for clients and applicants choosing to use this service. Once of the biggest challenges has been to integrate this with existing systems and give clients options on how they want to use the service. Watch out for further announcements shortly.
Changing trends in the pre-employment screening industry
During 2022 the Department for Education released updates to the ‘Keeping children safe in education’ guidance. As part of this release, we have seen an increase in the requests for Social Media Checks, together with greater details on references and other such material. We see that trend increasing as more and more educational organisation look to strengthen their recruitment processes. A lot of organisations are quite rightly nervous about looking into social media history as part of their assessments, but we have been offering fully compliant checks since.
Another area where we have seen a lot of growth and enquiries, has been our compliance packages designed to meet third-party standards such as BPSS and BS7858. These are generally considered to be the most in-depth screening packages on offer. We’ve had excellent take-up from organisations wanting to fully outsource the entire requirement either due to a lack of internal resource, or a desire to streamline their processes. We think this requirement will continue to grow into 2023 as more organisations become aware of the standards or want to appoint a single supplier for all elements. This will be further improved by the DDC digital identity services that will become available in early 2023.
What’s next for DDC in 2023?
As we look to the future and beyond, we want to wish all our clients, applicants and colleagues a prosperous 2023. Our main focus for 2023 will be releasing and improving our digital identity systems. We will quickly iterate the service to include more features and make it more accessible. The single greatest challenge with the new service is testing as we need live examples to make sure it works correctly. As you would expect Passport issuers do not provide much sample data to test their security features and data chip reading capabilities. I can honestly say it will be nice to see some live applicants going through the system rather than digitally verifying the senior management team. Thankfully I have never failed the liveness test with an old passport photo which I hope means I’m ageing gracefully!
Get in contact
You can expect to see the team at numerous trade shows, education events and industry conferences talking about our experiences and how we are meeting these new industry challenges. We will also be running webinars and education workshops over the coming months. Keep an eye out for our newsletters if you want to know when these will be. If you have questions about the information above, please get in touch with one of the team via our ‘contact us’ page.