EMPLOYERS WARNED: RUN CHECKS OR RISK CRIMINALS
3 January 2012,
QUEENSLAND companies are leaving themselves open to fraud risk by not performing criminal history checks on their prospective employees, according to a leading recruiter.
In light of the weekend’s revelations of a Queensland Health employee allegedly defrauding the State Government of $16 million, it has been revealed that only a fraction of employers conduct police background checks as part of the hiring process.
It is alleged Hohepa Morehu-Barlow had a history of fraud related offences in New Zealand, however his criminal background was not uncovered as checks were not performed.
Three Queensland Health bureaucrats were today stood down with pay as investigations continue.
Recruiter Tudor Marsden-Huggins says his company’s own statistics reveal that only 7 per cent of clients run criminal history checks as part of their employee screening process.
“Although this figure is up from 4 per cent last year, the small fraction of the market conducting background checks is a little worrying. It’s vitally important for employers to know who they are employing, and if they have a history of criminal activity that could put the company or its clients in jeopardy,” says Marsden-Higgins, managing director of The Employment Office.
“Criminal history checks are particularly important if employees have access to company funds or sensitive financial information. Many employers perform their own checks using referees, and also checking up on potential employees on Facebook and Twitter, however the most efficient way to identify if there are any red flags is to perform a criminal history check.”
Marsden-Huggins estimates that one in every 25 criminal background checks records a disclosable criminal history, with some reporting multiple criminal offences. He says traffic convictions account for the largest number of offences reported in criminal history checks, followed by violent offences, theft, drug offences and fraud.
However Marsden-Huggins advises employers to be cautious, ensuring they do not use conviction and arrest records inappropriately to deny employment.
“The nature of the offence committed by the applicant and their suitability for the job on offer needs to be weighed up fairly to avoid discrimination lawsuits as seen in the United States,” he says.