Why do employers ask for a criminal record check?

words Al Woods

Over the past few years, businesses in Australia have been steadily implementing a new hiring strategy, one which includes background checks even when these are not mandated by law. Why are employers being so cautious lately and are criminal record checks really necessary?

criminal record check

The risks of hiring someone with a criminal past

Let’s face it, when you hire someone new they will become part of the family, because if you’re running your business the way you should, employees feel right at home at the office. Would you allow a complete stranger into your house without even minimal checks? Probably not. Most companies will use the services of either the local police station or more commonly, a government accredited agency that provides an easy to use platform to track, manage and order background checks. An example would be the following online character check application form which is used in Australia and is accessible via the following website link: https://www.australiannationalcharactercheck.com.au/Police-Check-Application.html

Letting loose someone with a hidden shady background is extremely dangerous because they will be free to roam the place, interacting with the rest of the staff and having access to your company’s funds or business secrets.

Say the new employee has a history of sexual offences you know nothing about. There are a thousand ways such an individual might harass his female colleagues or even your customers. If such a scandal occurs in the office, your company might experience loss of productivity and revenue due to a tense atmosphere and you might also be looking at a lawsuit brought by the victim. This is a lawsuit with a good chance of winning in courts on the grounds of negligent employment, it was your HR department’s job to keep people safe and they failed.

Just imagine the scandal if your new employee starts harassing your customers. The press would have a field day of such an incident on your premises and the company’s image would be in tatters.

If we’re talking about a new employee with a penchant for theft and fraud the consequences could be very serious, way beyond some money stolen from the cash register. What you could be looking at are things such as embezzlement or large scale company fraud. What’s even worse is that in many such cases getting your money back might take years, that is if you manage to ever get it back.

criminal record check

Doing a background check – a win-win situation

Let’s put it like this. If your candidate does not have anything to hide they won’t have any problem submitting to a national police check. An honest citizen understands why an employer feels the need to keep his business safe. On the other hand, asking a candidate with a criminal to undergo a background check might come as an unpleasant surprise.

The best thing to do for a person with some offences on their criminal record would be to disclose his past from the very beginning, as that would give them at least a chance at getting hired, with good points for honesty. Knowing the truth would eventually come out might just be the thing that pushes such people into full disclosure.

Background checks made easy

Background checks are so easy that it’s a pity not to routinely ask for one. If you’re thinking about sending the poor job applicant in front of you down to the police station and have him come back in a week or two with the criminal record, you’re obviously thinking of the past.

Today, you can do the same thing online and it will only take a couple of days if you work with a reputable agency. You will have the results sent to your email before you’re done checking the references and past employment of the candidate. If it’s no bother for anyone to order a background check online and it doesn’t take much time why would an HR manager skip this step? It’s no trouble at all and it helps keep your organisation and everyone in it perfectly safe!


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