If applying for new jobs wasn’t stressful and confusing enough, the recruitment industry loves to throw jargon and abbreviations into the mix. CRB, DBS, PVG, CPD, NMW – it’s all very confusing. Even if you’re up to date with the lingo – or have found out that NMW means National Minimum Wage courtesy of a search engine – there are a few acronyms which cause confusion. One of these is BPSS, which stands for Baseline Personnel Security Standard, and is a type of police checking and vetting for staff working in certain industries. It’s often thought to be a substitute for DBS and other types of Police checking, but there are several important differences.
Industries Using BPSS
Baselines Personnel Security Standard is used by a wide variety of industries from civil service jobs in the public sector through to retail and other types of office work. This contrasts with DBS checking, where the types of jobs which require DBS checking are set by the government, giving the employer no flexibility over the types of check they do. Doing BPSS checks on new starters isn’t compulsory, but it’s recommended as a basic set of checks to make sure you’re employing people who have the right to work in the UK and aren’t going to pose a risk to your business.
What’s Involved in BPSS Checks?
There are four main aspects to BPSS checking:
- Identity checking
- Nationality and immigration status
- Employment history
- Criminal record declaration
Identity checking – this is about the employer checking that the person presenting for a job is who they say they are. In order to establish this, employers usually ask to see some form of government issued photographic ID such as a passport or driving licence, along with utility bills or something else with their address.
Nationality – there are strict rules about who is allowed to work legally in the UK, and heavy penalties for companies employing illegal workers. Companies usually ask to see applicants’ passports as the easiest way of establishing their right to work.
Employment history – it’s standard practice to ask any applicant what they’ve been doing for the last three years, whether working or studying and then to check by taking references or calling former employers to ask.
Criminal record declaration – this is where confusion starts as a declaration isn’t the same as a check. Employers following BPSS are allowed to ask whether an applicant has any convictions which are not considered “spent”, or whether there is an ongoing police case against them. If the applicant says yes, then they can give an explanation. However, employers are not legally allowed to make criminal records checks against most applicants and must take what they are told at face value. There is usually some sort of legal statement which the applicant has to agree that they have been honest in the information given and that they understand that false information or deliberate omission of information could lead to disciplinary action. In other words, if you lie and your employer finds out, they have every right to sack you.