Social Media Checks

SOCIAL MEDIA CHECKS – POWERFUL SCREENING TOOL OR LEGAL MINEFIELD?

Australians spend an average 22 hours per week on social media, that’s as much time as many young club employees spend at work. With social media now such an intrinsic part of the lives and identities of our young people, it’s understandable that employers are increasingly taking note of this important information source during recruitment.

While social media screening is a worthwhile activity during recruitment, helping recruiters to determine whether a person will be a ‘good fit’ for their organisation, from a legal perspective, basing employment decisions solely on a person’s social media profile, can be a risky business.

From a hospitality recruiters perspective, Facebook pictures of a candidate drunk in the gutter or playing drinking games, may be a deal breaker when it comes to bar work for example, without the benefit of a range of other information which may exclude the candidate for other reasons, deciding not to hire someone based entirely on their social media presence, can be a legal minefield.

So how do you go about the process of conducting social media checks legally and ethically?

The legalities of conducting social media checks

While conducting social media checks is useful as a means by which to obtain a piece of the overall picture, this should not be the only screening method used. Information influencing employment decisions should be considered in the following order of importance:

  1. Criminal History, if applicable to the fundamental duties of the role.
  2. Experience and qualifications.
  3. Reference checks with previous employers
  4. Social Media presence

Some employers ask for access to the private social media pages of Candidates and employees so that activity can be more closely monitored. However, this is not recommended. Obtaining information on potential and current employees in this way may be a breach of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), might lead to an adverse action claim under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), and may even equate to misleading or deceptive conduct in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.

Any employment related decision with regard to social media content can leave an employer liable under anti-discrimination law if the employer cannot demonstrate that information sourced from social media (such as race, religion or sexual preference) had no bearing on the organisation’s decision in relation to the applicant.

Organisations must also be aware of the terms of the social media sites they are exploring. Some sites prohibit unauthorised use of the information.

The key to these risks, is to obtain written consent from the job applicant, and to only gather information from the social media site with their full knowledge. Organisations should also keep a detailed record of the information used in the recruitment process.

In summary, social media checks are a worthwhile addition to your employee screening arsenal, particularly when hiring younger people but, as with any form of screening, they need to be carried out in a way that won’t come back to bite you later.

Employment Screening Australia is a leading expert on all forms of pre-employment background checking. We can advise you on the best way to conduct Social Media checks in accordance with legal requirements. Contact us any time on 0434 886 466 or email admin@employmentscreeningaustralia.com.au.

Employee Screening – It’s Not a Game.

With the recent tragic happenings in Europe and elsewhere, it is a good time to touch on the issue of terrorism financing, gaming and employee screening measures for people working in the gaming industry.

The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Rules Instrument 2007, administered by AUSTRAC specifies that it is imperative for gaming manufacturers and service providers to implement rigorous employee background screening when hiring staff to work in and around gaming. Large fines can ensue if any employer is found to have failed in this regard.
But what does the term ‘rigorous’ mean when it comes to screening potential candidates? There is unfortunately no guidance within the AML-CTF Rules as to specifically what is required when it comes to probity checking.

With so many screening options available such as police checks, employment history and reference checking, what should gaming recruiters be doing to ensure their screening procedures are meeting AUSTRAC requirements?

Police Checks

A criminal check will uncover a range of convictions for drug usage or trafficking, theft, breaking and entering and fraud as well as any terrorism related convictions. It is commonly accepted as the most robust form of employee screening currently available. But as a point in time check, it isn’t entirely foolproof. Police checks, should be an intrinsic part of any screening regime, but they should be combined with other screening activities as well.

Employment History Checks

As illustrated by high profile cases over past years, falsification of employment history is a growing problem across a range of industries.

Embellishment of the facts is common among job seekers, as revealed by Veda’s research of more than 1,000 adverse findings of verification of employees moving to new jobs in the 12 months to 30 June 2014.

The data shows that 27 per cent of dishonest job seekers are providing potential employers with misleading information about their employment history.

A professionally undertaken employment history check will highlight any unexplained gaps in a person’s employment history. These gaps or discrepancies are often red flags, indicating a less than glowing employment record.

Visa/Work Entitlement Checks

The Veda research found that dishonesty in relation to Australian work entitlement came a close second to falsified employment histories with 26 per cent of falsifications coming from this due diligence category.

It is not longer a defence for employers to claim they were not aware of the employee’s work entitlement status. Employers face heavy fines for failing to properly ensure employees are Visa checked.

VEVO checks can be conducted quickly and easily and could save your organisation tens of thousands in fines.

Reference checks

While some employers refuse to give references for legal reasons, reference checks should not be discounted as an important intelligence gathering exercise. When conducted properly, reference checks can be an excellent predictor of future work performance.

A thorough reference checking program will involve measures to weed out false referees and will seek to obtain information from those best placed to give feedback on the candidate’s work performance.

The way forward

Employment risk mitigation is no longer recommended just when hiring. Periodic checks should become part of an organisation’s ongoing due diligence process to confirm employees’ criminal, work rights or financial status have not changed.

Just as businesses currently insure against property damage and other forms of risk, the area of risk mitigation in recruitment is often overlooked.

As a minimum, gaming employers should be conducting police checks and considering at least one of the above additional check types when recruiting new staff.

ESA can conduct a wide range of pre-employment checks. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Criminal History Checks

Tip of the Week- Why Police History Checks Can Save You Money.

A Brisbane small business owner recently lost $70,000 in the wake of fraudulent activities by two trusted team members. While the business owner now has the peace of mind of knowing that the crafty pair were charged and convicted for their crimes, what about the next person who employs these two criminals? I doubt criminal convictions will be included in the resumes of these two lowlifes so how will future employers know that they could be making a terrible mistake. It is always hoped that penalties will be a deterrent for people like this, but in many cases, this isn’t so.

Some businesses may be concerned or confused about Police History Checks or they may not wish to appear to doubt the word of the candidate. However, the importance of criminal records checks should not be overlooked. Criminal record checks can protect an organisation from hiring someone who may be unsuitable or even dangerous to the organisation’s staff and reputation. For example, would a small business owner feel confident employing someone who had a previous conviction for fraud if hiring for a position involving EOD lock-up or banking? Would staff be happy to work with someone who had not been truthful on their CV? A quick, cost effective police history check can give you peace of mind and potentially save you thousands down the track. Of course, a police history check is not a foolproof solution to fraud in your business and not all those with criminal history are necessarily untrustworthy, but wouldn’t you rather be informed?