Why every employer should carry out background checks when hiring

Why every employer should carry out background checks when hiring

The importance of background checks

Background checks are recommended to be a part of every business's human resources process.

A simple background check may range from cross-checking references that are on a CV to carrying out a police check.

If workers have contact with vulnerable persons, the public, or financial information, businesses should be thorough about the background check process used in the organization to avoid any potential negligent hiring claims.

Onboarding new workers is an exciting time for most businesses. New workers bring about new ideas and new opportunities to the organization and to teams.

As such a large number of people misrepresent their character and credentials, it is essential to do at least some background checking to see if what the potential employee says about their character background is true and factual.

A number of employers don't do any background checks. It is shown with statistics that they will often regret a lax process that does not vet the character of persons that they are hiring.

A potential new recruit may possibly be unqualified for the job or may have some personality traits or previous experiences that cause issues for the business down the track.

Negligent Hiring - How it may be proven in court

A way to underpin what negligent hiring in the law is to familiarize one with what must generally be proven in order for a client, employee, or another third party to prevail in a negligent hiring case against a company or individual sole trader:

  • The employee's act or omission causing the third party's injuries (e.g. injury or damage to the customer)
  • The employer's negligence in hiring the employee as the most likely cause of the person's injuries (for example, no background or history check to determine a suitable character of the employee).
  • The employer's knowledge (e.g. constructive or actual) of the new workers’ unfitness. This can include and is not limited to: Failure to investigate or carry out a background check which can lead to a finding of constructive knowledge.

Operating in an industry where background checks are mandatory?

When an organization has experience of losing talent because someone else (another company) has beaten them to the offer, it’s tempting to take shortcuts next time around and make an offer before the company completes all required background checks like a police check application.

There are however risks involved in this sort of an approach. There can be harsh consequences for businesses who do this (taking the easy route with no background checks) only to find out after they’ve employed a person that they’ve hired a person with an extensive criminal history that may potentially have access to vulnerable persons as part of their employment.

A police check online is in many cases considered as a sound starting point to avoid this issue.

Most commonly, failure to complete background checks such as a national police check and make sure that the correct identification documents, qualifications, certifications, and VISA checks like a right to work have been provided can lead to a breach in regulatory compliance that all firms are required to follow.

An Inability to outline an employee or contractor's suitability for working with vulnerable people like children places your team and business in potential risk.

The more risk-sensitive the position (e.g. higher access to vulnerable persons), the greater the possibility that a business will be liable for negligent hiring if an employee or contractor is involved in harmful misconduct, illegal activities, or a breach of the common law.

Once someone is employed who turns out to have misconstrued the truth on their CV or resume, it’s much harder from a legal point of view to dismiss the individual.


The bottom line is employers are much better off dealing with information deception by carrying out background checks during the recruitment stage and before making a formal job offer, not after.

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