Many professions legally require police checks for identification, licensing or job purposes under statutory or regulatory structures. These professions include lawyers, community care employees, teachers, police, taxi drivers, financial brokers, construction agents, judges, health practitioners, childcare workers and aged-care personnel. Such roles require compulsory criminal background checks and, in most cases, the employee will not be able to start the job until a recent check has been carried out.
Australian companies are increasingly performing police checks as part of their own risk reduction plans. According to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), there was a 9.9% increase in the number of nationally coordinated criminal history checks submitted in 2016-17 over the previous year, with this trend increasing into 2018-19.
With the increasing demand, an online police checking process has started. The ACIC has started accrediting police checking service providers to conduct the checks on behalf of applicants.
Why is a police check important?
There are many advantages to performing a police check prior to hiring a candidate. A background check can:
- Help to create a safe working atmosphere
- Help to protect people, property, assets and company information
- Reducing robberies, scams and other crimes
- Ensuring that candidates are fair and dependable
- Maintaining the organisation reputation within the industry
How to determine if a police check is necessary
In assessing whether police screening is necessary, an employer may adapt a risk-based approach on a detailed understanding of the types of threats that can be applied to each role and the context under which the role operates. For example, a bank employee may have access to confidential personal or company information and so there is a possible risk of mishandling the information. In this case, you would like to ensure that the person who undertakes such a position has no recent criminal past.
A tradesperson who regularly accesses clients’ homes may also be a high-risk employee. While it is not mandatory to get a police check in these types of trade jobs, an employer will want to think about the possible threats such as access to personal property or interaction with vulnerable individuals. Therefore, it is recommended that a criminal background search be done to ensure the worker has no criminal record.
As part of an organisation’s risk reduction management, it is best practice for employers to implement a comprehensive strategy of police protection to avoid discrimination and build a healthy work atmosphere that allows their workers to be treated equally and lawfully.
A written policy will help both prospective job candidates and current workers better grasp the company’s priorities when carrying out police checks. It eliminates misunderstandings that could actually affect workplace morale and health. A formal policy will also set out the legal duties of the employer under anti-discrimination legislation, which will ensure that workers are not dealt with unfairly, harshly or inconsiderately if they have a criminal history of some sort.
The Australian Human Rights Commission suggests that employers determine each position’s specific conditions and what form of crime is applicable to that position before a job is advertised or an individual is required to agree to a police check.
What steps are involved in implementing the policy?
The employer should foster a sense of consistency and fairness by stipulating these criteria in a written policy which employees can refer to during the screening process. Unless the employer first considers these factors when responding to the disclosure of the criminal activity of a person, they may subject themselves to charges of discrimination. In general, a framework should include:
- Declaration on the obligation of the employer to comply with the anti-discrimination conviction committed and the privacy laws on equity and justice
- An outline of the legal rights and obligations of both the employer and the employee on this matter
- An overview of the other legal requirements of the employer, such as compliance with industry-specific legislation
- The detailed process for determining the requirements of each job, including when and how police checks can be required, the process and factors related to evaluating suitability, and the procedure for resolving complaints among employees
Through engaging employees in the policymaking process and ensuring that your policies are open and detailed, the company will create an environment where employees trust you with details on criminal records and feel confident with the overall risk management plan.
What to keep in mind when implementing the policy?
Incorporating a police check policy is not enough if you don’t know how to implement it. If you do not have the human resources within your organisation to adequately carry out police checks, it is always recommended to choose an ACIC-accredited police checking provider.
For example, KONCHECK is an ACIC accredited provider that processes the police checks online. These police checking providers offer convenient customised solutions keeping in mind your business needs. Through the business portal, you can manage every check smoothly. and receive the necessary certificates quickly. It’s a smart and secure way to safeguard your organisation.