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null Pre-employment screening: our guide to getting it right


The rules around compliance differ in every company, but there are some basic introductory steps that everyone should undertake. There are many terms used to describe the compliance policies and checks that potential employees must undertake, including:

  • Complete background screening
  • Verification
  • Pre employment screening process (PES)

In this summary, we’ll discuss the basics that you should expect when looking to outsource to a recruitment partner.

Where to start with pre-employment screening

When outsourcing your recruitment, your provider should work with you to map out your current compliance and screening requirements. At this stage your recruitment provider will advise you on any legal obligations or requirements. Make sure your provider recommends any best practices and process improvements that you might require.

Common pitfalls of conducting background checks

Mismanagement of screening for contingent workers

It is commonplace to find that companies rely on suppliers to manage their contingent workforce. And although this supplier relationship may offer convenience, it can present risks when working with a large supply list.
In many cases managing the legal compliance of contingent workers may be the responsibility of your supplier. But do you know whether they check for requirements such as a client confidentiality form or a credit check?
When Enterprise Solutions manages an outsourced service, we make sure to ask compliance related questions, including:
  • Will this candidate be handling financially sensitive data?
  • Is a medical check required? Is this candidate going to be working with children or vulnerable adults?
  • Is the candidate eligible to work in the country in which you are operating?
We make it our job to help educate clients and to understand their business. By doing so, it becomes easier to decide which pre-employment screening checks you will require.

Define a bespoke hiring process for your business

Many companies can take a blanket approach to compliance for all roles and locations within their organisation. This can lead to a costly and lengthy on-boarding process when it might not always be necessary – or legally permitted.

Conducting employment background checks

In the United States for example, you can’t verify a job applicants’ right to work until after you have made an offer. For most other regions, this check would be conducted much earlier in the process.

You also need to consider data protection laws when carrying out checks, as this also differs by region. In Germany, it is not possible to photocopy or keep a copy of a candidate’s proof of eligibility.

In the UK, it is a legal requirement to view the original right to work document, certify it and keep a copy on file. However, in Poland it is not a legal requirement to view the right to work documents at all.

Carrying out reference checks

The process around obtaining employment references can also differ by region. In Germany, applicants often receive a letter of reference from their previous employer so additional checks aren’t necessary. Employers can still request references, but this requires explicit consent from the applicant.

Handling registration documents

Registration documents can also differ by region. In Singapore, Hong Kong and China we ask candidates to:

  • Declare that they are registering with Hays of their own free will.
  • Acknowledge this declaration on the registration form, thus providing their agreement to working with Hays.
  • Provide true & correct information.


Your outsourcing provider can configure their Vendor Management Systems (VMS) to identify all requirements at the requisition stage. This could be per location, job family, job title / grade or even by cost code or hiring manager. For example, a receptionist might not need the same level of checks that a financial analyst would.

Within your VMS, your teams should have the visibility to check that a candidate does have all of their compliance in place.

Pre-employment screening and compliance aren't just for new starters

Compliance isn’t just about upfront checks. Compliance is an ongoing process of ensuring Visas are valid and that all qualifications, memberships or certifications are current.

Make compliance part of the process

One of the most important elements within the recruitment process is managing expectations upfront. Both the client and the candidate need to know what to expect and how long the process will take.

To support clients and candidates we have produced some very simple process flows. Sharing these documents helps manage expectations around timescales. It also helps to highlight any delays along the way, such as negative references or failed criminal record checks.

By producing these process flows, we help to save you time and manage fallouts in the screening process effectively.


Consider roadblocks for your screening process 

Finding the best candidate for a job, only to find they don't meet legal and compliance requirements, can be frustrating.

Self-elimination is helpful at the application and screening point. That’s why at Hays we make sure to educate candidates on the requirements. By educating candidates we ensure that everyone has the best possible experience and doesn’t waste their valuable time. We only show hiring managers CVs and interview candidates if we’re confident they will pass compliance and employment history checks.

If your business is looking to mitigate risk, consider outsourcing your contingent workforce. Speak to your outsourcing provider about implementing the right processes and technology. You will then be able to record, monitor and report on legal and company specific compliance requirements.


Elly Boggis
Global Service Assurance Director, Enterprise Solutions at Hays

Joining Hays in 2005 as an onsite consultant for Hays, Elly went on to manage key accounts in the UK. Her experience includes working with diverse clients in the Financial, IT and Public Sectors.

After building expertise, Elly quickly progressed before taking an opportunity to move to Sydney in 2012. Elly worked across Australia and New Zealand and was responsible for the success of Enterprise Solutions accounts and their compliance function. These responsibilities were in addition to the project management of the implementation of expanded services to numerous clients.

Elly transferred back to the UK in 2014 and is now responsible for ensuring we have the correct tools and processes in place to mitigate risk in the delivery of our services to both our clients and candidates.

For more advice from our experts on compliance and employment checks, you may also want to read: