Dear <<First Name>>
Recruiting new staff for your business can be a time consuming, costly exercise that you really want to get right first time. When you’re taking on senior level staff, it is even more important to do it properly. In this issue of HR Watch, we’re looking at one vital aspect of recruitment that is too often over looked – reference checking.
At Time2Time HR we help a range of clients to find the best new members of staff. We work with some great recruitment agencies, to find high quality candidates and we can even help with the interviewing. If you’re growing your team and would like some advice or support, just get in touch.
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Did You Check Their References?
When you’re recruiting new employees, it’s always worth asking candidates for references. It’s good to know that what someone says on their CV is actually true, so talking to a former employer can be a wise move. Important information that they choose not to tell you at the interview might also come up.
The more senior the role that you’re filling, the more important it is to thoroughly follow up with references that are provided. You need to do more than just confirming that your potential employee worked where they said they did.
So how do you go about doing this? What’s the process to follow?
Once you’ve carried out all your interviews and have made your selection, you then need to make your job offer, subject to confirming references and background checks. Most people will not want you to approach their current employer until they have actually resigned and know that they have a new position to take up. This means it is better to wait until you’re ready to make a job offer before requesting references.
For senior positions, you ideally want to be able to speak to your potential employee’s previous manager. You will need to send your prospective employee a form on which they can provide the relevant names and contact information. You can then contact the referees, either by phone, or by sending them a form to complete. A conversation with the former manager is the ideal way to find out more about the person you’d like to employ.
Some businesses do not provide full references. However, you can still check to make sure that the employee worked where they said they did, for the stated length of time. It is also helpful to carry out background checks on the employee. There are companies that you can use to do this for you. They will look at the data on the employee’s CV for dates of employment and make sure they are correct. They can carry out a credit check, which could be relevant for financial positions. They can also see if someone is a director of another business, to prevent a conflict of interest. They will confirm that the employee has the education and qualifications they say they have – it’s surprising how many people get ‘creative’ with their CVs!
Why is all this so important?
At interview, while candidates are likely to tell you about their positive attributes, they may choose not to disclose information about their health, time-keeping or disciplinary records, which could be useful for you to know. This information will only come to light through carrying out thorough reference checks.
Always make your job offer subject to references and background checks. If the references prove unsatisfactory, you may withdraw the offer. However, if a reference is discriminatory, you may be liable under the Equality Act 2010 if you withdraw the offer on the basis of a discriminatory reference.
Take the time to carry out proper checks, particularly with senior members of staff, and you’ll be in a better position to recruit the best person for your business.
Practical HR – What’s a Reference Check, Bill?
In the last issue of HR Watch, we told you about how Bill was busy recruiting a new Salesman.
The good news is that Bill has found the perfect person to join the team and calls him, to offer him the job. A couple of days after making the call, a friend turns up at Bill’s office, saying that he’s looking for a new job in sales and would Bill consider him? Bill thinks he’d rather employ his friend, Brandon, than the other candidate. But that’s OK – he can just withdraw the offer he’s already made. After all, a phone call isn’t binding, is it?
Bill has a chat with Brandon, who assures him that over the past couple of years he’s been “keeping his sales skills up to date,” with a number of different projects. Bill decides that he doesn’t need to ask him for a reference. There are a few gaps in Brandon’s CV, but he’s sure that Brandon just forgot to put in the details of the other jobs he’s had. He asks Belinda, the lady in the office who looks after staff issues, to send Brandon a letter offering him the job. “Should I include a written statement of terms?” wonders Belinda. Bill didn’t say so, so perhaps I don’t need to, as Brandon is friend of his ...
Tune in next time to see how Brandon gets on at his new job!
Employment Law Update
When you employ staff, you need to keep up with all the changes to Employment Law that happen throughout the year. Here are a few issues you might need to know about for your business.
Auto-enrolment Pensions – If you don’t have any staff, you might not need to set up a Workplace pension. This recently published guide will tell you. Click ‘Start the Guide’ and on the next page is a link to ‘what if I don’t have any staff? Follow the link and you can see if it applies to you. If it does, just follow the instructions.
Disability Discrimination – The European Court of Justice has ruled that obesity is not itself a disability, but can entail limitations which do amount to a disability. There’s more on this issue here.
National Minimum Wages – An employer who made a deduction from a final salary payment for training fees that the employee owed, paid the employee’s salary in line with the National Minimum Wage. The deduction meant the employee actually received less than the NMW in her pay packet. Is this allowed? Read about this recent case here.
If you have a question about any issue covered in this newsletter, or any other employee concern within your business, do get in touch.