Employers might need to run certain checks on job applicants. They always need to make sure new employees are allowed to work in the UK.

Right to work in the UK

Employers must check that job applicants are allowed to work in the UK before they hire them.

An employer can be fined up to £20,000 if they can’t show evidence that they checked an employee’s right to work in the UK.

Criminal record checks

For certain jobs like working with children or in healthcare, employers need to carry out a criminal record check on new employees before they can start.

Criminal record checks are carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), which used to be the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). CRB checks are now called DBS checks.

Unless there’s specific need to check someone’s criminal record for a job, it’s against the law for employers to refuse to employ them because of spent convictions.

Health checks

Employers can only ask successful candidates for a health check before hiring someone if:

  • it’s a legal requirement, eg eye tests for commercial vehicle drivers
  • if the job requires it, eg because their insurers need health checks on cycle couriers

Employers should include information about any checks in their offer letter, and get written consent before asking for a report from a candidate’s doctor. Candidates can demand to see the report, and ask for it to be changed or withheld from the employer.

Employers must make sure checks don’t discriminate (eg by targeting them at certain age groups only) or discourage people from applying for the job.

An employer who discriminates against a candidate because of a disability that doesn’t stop them from doing the job can be prosecuted.

Data protection

Employers must follow data protection rules when handling information on job applicants.