While the 2010 statistics by Employer's Mutual Protection Service (EMPS) show that over 13% of all applicants checked in 2010 had a criminal record, it's possible these numbers have increased.
In July this year, we reported that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa revealed that 1,448 police officers have criminal records.
This just goes to show the possibility of hiring convicted employees unknowingly is very real.
But there's a way to avoid this.
Use these three methods to establish your employees' criminal record status
Method #1: Fingerprint records: The best proof of a previous criminal conviction is the existence of the accused's fingerprint record.
You can contact the Criminal Record Centre on (012) 393 3601 and request the information.
A person's criminal record is a matter of public record so you don't have to be concerned about invasion of privacy.
Method #2: Implement a blanket policy: Keep in mind that having a blanket policy which tries to establish your employees' criminal records could get your employees hot under the collar. Employees may react with hostility and defensiveness and may feel strongly that you're violating their privacy, says the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management.
For this reason, carefully consider this policy before implementing it.
Method #3: Establish your employees' criminal records on a case-by-case basis: The Guide recommends you use this method. It involves asking employees for their prior criminal convictions on a case-by-case basis.
A creative solution would be to ask applicants or candidates for a new position, promotion, or new project to disclose their criminal record.
If your employee is dishonest when responding to this request or falsifies his criminal record, this would then constitute a ground on its own for misconduct and possible dismissal of the employee.
If, on the other hand, your employee is honest and discloses a previous criminal conviction, it would justify an enquiry into whether your employee is a fit and proper person to remain in your employment.
Well there you have it. With these methods you'll be sure to avoid unknowingly hiring convicted employees.