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Information » Education, Employment & Training » Starting Work » Pre-employment Checks

Pre employment checks

When you start a new job, your employer may wish to carry out a number of checks to see if you're suitable.

The types of checks an employer carries out will depend on the job.

Identification documents

  • Before you start working for a new employer they'll probably want proof that you have the right to work in the UK
  • You'll need to produce either a document or a combination of documents to confirm you're eligible (eg a birth certificate, passport, a visa or a work permit if you're a non-national). The employer should tell you which documents you need to show them
  • The documents you need will depend on whether you're a worker, employee or self-employed


  • A job offer may depend on the employer getting a reference from your current employer, and maybe previous employers too

Background checks

  • Where a job is security-related, an employer may want to carry out background checks
  • For a few financial services roles, these may also cover your credit history
  • The employer should treat all job applicants in the same way during the recruitment process
  • Equal opportunities monitoring

    • There's no law against collecting information on race and ethnicity when recruiting. Many organisations choose to in order to monitor the effectiveness of their equal opportunities policy. However, you don't have to give this information if you don't want to
    • If you think you're being singled out for more detailed background checks because of your ethnicity, you can complain to an Employment Tribunal under race discrimination laws
    • An employer mustn't treat you differently because you're 'foreign looking' or have a 'foreign-sounding' name
    • An employer also mustn't treat you differently because of your sex, marital status, sexual orientation or religion. For example, if you're a woman, you shouldn't be asked if you're planning to have children soon, as this could be used to discriminate in favour of a male applicant. Please read our Discrimination section

    Health checks

    • You may have to have a health check if it's a legal requirement of the job (for example, having an eye test for a job as a driver)
    • You should be told about any health checks in your offer letter
    • Your employer may ask for a medical report, but if they want one, they must have policies for keeping it secure
    • If you're disabled, your disability shouldn't be used as a reason for singling you out for a health test without good reason. If you are, and you don't get the job as a result, you can complain to an Employment Tribunal
    • It's unlawful to treat disabled people less favourably because of their disability. This doesn't mean that it will always be unlawful for an employer to ask a disabled person to have a health check, even if other candidates are not asked. It will depend on the nature of your disability and the needs of the job

    Checking qualifications

    • If you need particular qualifications, training or licences for a job, your employer may ask for proof that you have them
    • They should let you know if they're carrying out these checks and if they intend to keep copies of any relevant documents on file

    Criminal records checks

    Under normal circumstances employers cannot ask you about spent convictions, however some employers will need to check whether you have a criminal record.

    You will have to disclose any convictions if you're applying for a job or volunteering:

    • Working with children or vulnerable adults
    • As an accountant or barrister
    • In the police
    • Relating to the administration of justice or financial regulation

    Employers must be registered with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to carry out criminal records checks. There is a charge for this and the employer can ask you to meet the cost.

    Withdrawing a job offer

    • An employer can withdraw a job offer even after you've accepted it if any check on you has produced unsatisfactory results, so long as you were made aware before you accepted the job that the offer was on conditions

    Data protection issues

    • Your employer should only get information which is necessary and relevant to the check which they want to carry out
    • Your employer will also have to make sure that any use of personal information about you complies with the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998
    • Your employment records must be kept secure and, unless kept in accordance with statutory requirements, be securely disposed of when you leave your employer. You have the right to see any information held on you
    • An employer must let you see this within 40 days of your request and can charge you a fee of up to £10

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