B eing lucky enough to live in a largely inclusive society can mean giving criminal offenders ‘a second chance’. Unfortunately, the future has been bleak for those with a criminal record.

According to a Ministry of Justice report, they are four times more likely to be unemployed and twice as likely to reoffend if they are out of work. Some employers are trying to buck these trends. For example, Pret a Manger has set up an apprenticeship scheme to “work with apprentices who have lived on the streets or have a criminal record…in an effort to help break the cycle.”

Not all companies are so accommodating. Currently, candidates are required to declare their criminal records, even some traffic offences. Without background screening as standard, the recruitment process for permanent and contingent workers still relies on honesty from the candidate to declare misdemeanors. However, that may be about to change and if it does, is that a good thing?

In February this year, UK Prime Minster David Cameron announced reforms that allow candidates the right to refuse to give details of their criminal records. Even voluntarily asking for this information may be deemed inappropriate by employers. Whilst this offers a ‘second chance’ for some and a more inclusive workforce, it may become counter-productive as running background checks and identifying ‘red flags’ becomes more prevalent.

In addition to the recent announcement by the UK Government, there is also a proposal to allow short-term prisoners, unidentified as such, out to work during the week. Here too, they will not need to declare their past indiscretions or even their current prison term. Does this make the need for background checks even more critical?

Background checks, screening and other vetting can be done in a number of ways. However, simple LinkedIn and social media checks are no longer enough. Yet a fully integrated approach to find and check candidates prior to onboarding is currently something very few companies can do. Without a system of record such as a vendor management system (VMS), matching candidates efficiently from one vetting system to another is untrustworthy. A more thorough and time-consuming search is required for most positions through an external vetting service.

The UK Government is working admirably toward allowing ‘second chances’, but do organisations need to be driven by a law to take a more considered approach? Knowledge of a candidate’s past does not necessarily mean that a ‘flag’ becomes a ‘red flag’. And of course there will always be a valid need for checks for certain roles and functions within an organisation.

A single integrated solution that validates a candidate’s suitability for a role―whether that is for examination grades, criminality or rating at previous offboarding―and records centrally for a smooth onboarding and offboarding process, makes total sense. IQN and our ecosystem of partners offers just such a solution and allows for a robust method that meets today’s hiring challenges.

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