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Follow these five steps to conduct legal background checks

by , 04 September 2013
You need to do background checks on potential employees. What's more, you must know how to conduct these background checks legally. Otherwise you'll face penalties from the labour courts and could even end up at the CCMA. Use these five steps to do this correctly to ensure you appoint the right person for the job.

While it's important to conduct background checks, it's equally important to do these checks lawfully.

And it's easy if you know how.

Use this easy five step approach to conduct background checks

Step #1: Contact the applicants references

According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, when an applicant gives you the name and contact numbers of a potential referee, he gives you his consent to you contacting them to check up on information he's submitted to you.

To avoid penalties from the Department of Labour, make sure you get written consent from the applicant. Also make it clear to applicants that you'll contact their referees.

In addition, consider these two points when calling references:

1. Avoid subjective questions such as 'tell me about the applicant's personality?' Instead, ask specific questions about the tasks and role. It's important to note that questions related to the applicant's work behaviour and his reasons for leaving don't constitute a violation of the applicant's rights.

2. Evaluate the credibility of the person giving the reference. A reference given by the applicant's immediate line manager is more credible than a reference given by a manager he didn't report to or an HR representative.

Step #2: Conduct a credit history

Apply to a credit bureaus like Trans Union for the candidate's credit history if relevant to the job.

Step #3: Conduct a criminal record check

There are two ways to do a criminal record check:

  1. You can contact the Criminal Record Centre (Tel: (012) 393 3601) and request the information.
  2. You can ask the applicant to apply for a police clearance certificate from their local police station.

Step #4: Check qualifications

You can contact the record office of the relevant university, college or university. You'll need a the student number and year of qualification to do so.

Step #5: Verify drivers licence

You can also conduct driver's licence checks with your applicant's consent. But you only need to do this if driving is part of the job requirement of the applicant.

There are three ways to verify a driver's licence:

1. You can apply to the relevant local traffic department.

2. You can send a request through to the Department of Transport. The following documentation must accompany each application:

  • A copy of the applicant's identity document
  • A copy of the applicant's driver's licence
  • A letter from applicant requesting verification of the licence
  • Contact details for the applicant.

3. Applicants can contact the Department of Transport directly.

Well there you have it. Following these steps will ensure you conduct background checks lawfully.

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