filling in a background screening form for contractor

Background Checks for Contractors: All You Need to Know

Regardless of a role’s complexity and the critical skills gap that needs filling, bringing on board skilled technical contractors can provide immense value to a company.

Hiring high-quality contractors can provide both a reliable short-term stopgap to keep operations running while full-time replacements are sought, or even as a long-term recruitment strategy for businesses in the tech space.

The Importance of Contractor Background Screening

However, the process of hiring contractors is not without inherent elements of risk. In any contractor agreement, you are entrusting individuals outside of your organisation with significant responsibilities. They will often require access to sensitive company, personal, or intellectual property data, depending on their role. 

For instance, hiring Atlassian contractors to oversee a full-scale project management system deployment and cloud migration may compromise your company’s data and damage its reputation if a contractor is found to have an undisclosed criminal record conviction.

Thorough background screening checks are essential to verify contractors as being trustworthy, risk-free, and reliable. Confirming that an individual is who they claim to be and can be trusted to perform the required work in that contractor job vacancy will go a long way in safeguarding data and reputation. The right background checks provide peace of mind and ensure that contractors meet all legal, financial, and ethical requirements.

Depending on where the contractor’s role will be based, some country-specific background checks may be needed. Background screening processes in the UK are slightly different to those in the US, for example, but the premise is the same. In this short guide, the contractor recruitment experts at ClearHub have outlined the key types of background checks that employers should consider before engaging contractors. 

Criminal Record Checks Protect Against Unethical Behaviour

One of the top priorities is screening for potential criminal history that could impact a contractor’s ability to work ethically and legally.

In the UK, a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check provides details of a person’s criminal record. Some employers may know these types of checks as their former moniker – Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks. However, a DBS check is the same thing as a CRB check.

Different levels of DBS checks are available to employers:

  • Basic – Details unspent criminal convictions
  • Standard – Details spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, and warnings
  • Enhanced – Includes the same as Standard plus any additional relevant information held by the applicant’s local police constabulary.

Some companies working in highly regulated industries are obligated to request certain levels of DBS checks. The extent of check required will also typically depend on the nature of the role, for example, those working closely with children or vulnerable adults will be expected to complete an Enhanced DBS check application.

In the US, citizens may be prompted to present a ‘certificate of good conduct’ or a ‘lack of criminal record.’ US residents can obtain proof of their clean criminal history via the following options:

  • Local police check
  • FBI records check
  • Fingerprints
  • Authentication of Police or FBI certificates that indicate a lack of criminal record.

The responsible recruiters at ClearHub understand the importance of criminal record screening and will liaise with you about the required checks for the contractors you are looking to hire.

Confirming Contractors’ Identity and Right to Work

It’s a legal requirement to confirm that every worker – whether full-time or freelance – is eligible to work. Before sharing sensitive information or granting system access, employers should always confirm that their contractor is who they claim to be.

Identity checks verify the contractors’ names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers (if in the US) and other personal details by validating identity documents. This is automated now with plenty of enterprise-grade technology available that can detect forgeries and fraudulent ID documents. However, human oversight is still critical.

UK contractors must pass right-to-work screening checks, which validate their eligibility to work in the UK. This is a legal requirement as stipulated by the Home Office to ensure that they are employing workers legally and lawfully.

Financial and Regulatory Checks Mitigate Business Risks

Depending on the hiring organisation’s country of operation, some roles will only be available to individuals who can pass certain financial checks. 

Often, regulatory bodies and legislation stipulate that authorised workers – even those on a contract basis – can only work if they can demonstrate financial suitability and minimal risk. 

In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requires regulated firms to adhere to strict codes of practice and procurement when recruiting individuals. 

Not only would identity checks and right-to-work checks be conducted, but UK and US contractors may be subject to:

  • Credit history checks – to confirm any history of poor credit
  • Financial Service Register checks – to validate whether they are authorised to perform certain FCA-regulated duties
  • History of bankruptcy or insolvency 
  • County Court Judgements (CCJs) and Sanction Searches
  • AML (anti-money laundering) checks 

The types of businesses that ClearHub works closely with can require relevant compliance and financial checks depending on the contractor’s role. 

Main Takeaways

Multinational organisations – particularly tech companies – often engage contractors from all over the world. This can make navigating native background checks, processes, and requirements quite complex. However, working with a reputable background screening agency is usually the most effective and time-saving solution.

At ClearHub, we do not provide background screening checks ourselves. However, we have extensive experience navigating contractors’ requirements across industries and locations. 

For many years, we have matched top talent with exciting new roles across a wide range of disciplines using the Atlassian tech stack and various technical capabilities. We have filled numerous vacancies in the UK and overseas ensuring that all candidates and applicants meet the eligibility criteria and obtain the relevant screening checks before work commences. 

Working with us ensures that your organisation can solely focus on the things that matter – powering your business and operations with the right talent possessing the right skills. Learn more about how we can help fill your next contractor role by requesting a consultation with us today.

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