July 25, 2024

SMEs must get ‘back to basics’ on recruitment checks in current climate

Business people working together in meeting room

Research from global screening provider Vero shows only a fifth of background checks conducted by smaller employers this year included Criminal Record Checks

Small to medium sized businesses are being urged to get ‘back to basics’ when it comes to making background checks on their employees. This comes after research from Vero shows that only a fifth of those conducted by SMEs in 2022* included Criminal Record Checks.

In February this year, Vero launched a “pay as you go” screening service for smaller businesses to help make low volume background checks a reality for SMEs.

Since launching this service, known as Vero/Go, it has found just 22% of its customers have used it to conduct Criminal Record Checks – 17% as part of the BS7858 check for all employees working in a secure environment, and 5% as standalone requests.

The most commonly requested type of check through Vero/Go overall has been for the Financial and Professional Services sector – suggesting that it’s still only SMEs operating in conventionally highly regulated areas that are using pre-employment screening as a protective business strategy.

Virginia McFarlane-Watts

Virginia McFarlane-Watts, Head of Business Development at Vero, says the findings indicate that UK SMEs could be more at risk of in-house criminality than their corporate counterparts, which is particularly concerning in the current climate.

Virginia explained: “If the figures from Vero/Go are anything to go by, it’s a concern for SMEs who aren’t making those necessary background checks, as they’re leaving themselves vulnerable should the worst happen. We know from previous research that 40% of businesses say criminal checks are more of a priority to them than ever**, but these latest figures show us that it’s likely just over half that amount are being made on employees in the SME sector.”

“To add to this, virtually none of the background checks that we have provided to smaller organisations accessing our Vero/Go range of ‘pay as you go’ products since it was introduced have included Right to Work Checks either.”

“This means operationally and reputationally speaking, UK SMEs are potentially exposing themselves to greater levels of risk than their corporate counterparts in an economic climate which, by their very nature, is already a far more treacherous place for smaller businesses,” Virginia added.

In the UK, 64% of businesses have experienced fraud, corruption or other economic/financial crime within the past 24 months, according to PwC*** – a substantial increase compared to 56% in 2020, higher than the global rate of 46%, and second only to the rates seen in South Africa.

Routine background screening of prospective and existing employees is one way businesses can ensure they are investing in the right resources and effective fraud-fighting measures to help combat the risks involved.

With this in mind, Vero has come up with a ‘how to’ checklist to help smaller businesses that may be new to background screening get started, which includes:

  • Considering the benefits to your business – which checks are most relevant to the protection of your customers, service users and others relevant to your line of work?
  • Looking at the kind of checks available – as a small business owner, consider who in the organisation needs screening, and what they need screening for.
  • Exploring the checks which are right for you – which roles would you consider ‘high risk’ and which ones are ‘low risk’? Who needs checking for what?

Vero/Go meanwhile also enables UK businesses of all sizes and from all backgrounds to screen new or existing staff, in low, medium and high-risk roles, quickly and with greater confidence.

The new self-service background checking platform has been individually packaged for financial, legal and professional services, and developed in line with BS7858, BPSS and general screening requirements too.

Virginia said: “These are the kind of industry statistics, coupled with our own, that have led to us calling on all UK SMEs to get ‘back to basics’ when it comes to checking up on the background activity of their employees, and ensure their past experience and qualifications are truly genuine.”

“It’s also why we introduced Vero/Go earlier this year as a way of supporting smaller scale employers to onboard their new employees and conduct employment screenings as effortlessly and quickly as possible, no matter their business size or sector.”

To find out more visit verogo.co.uk



*The number of SMEs conducting employee checks through Vero/Go since February 2022.

**According to Vero’s whitepaper ‘The Changing Face of Background Screening’ at www.veroscreening.com/research.