Australian employers have a duty to provide a safe and secure workplace for their employees. The best way to do that is to start from the very beginning - the moment you hire someone new to your organisation. Hiring a dangerous person puts at risk your employees as well as your company’s reputation. This is why it is important to have a plan to mitigate employment risk.
Australian businesses take this issue seriously which is why many employers have introduced stringent pre-employment screening tests.
While there’s little talk about it in the media, workplace violence is a serious problem all over the country.
Workplace violence comes in many forms. This is not just about physical violence. Women and members of racial or sexual minorities are more at risk, but it can happen to anyone. Bullying, harassment or discrimination will make it impossible for the victim to perform their job duties. Some of them quit when there’s no one to listen to their complaints, but others fight back.
If an employer files a complaint, your company will find itself embroiled in a huge public scandal. Should the matter go to court, the employer will have to pay compensation for the victim’s suffering, including medical costs if they end up needing counseling.
When you hire someone, making a good impression at the job interview is simply not enough. A wide smile can hide a dangerous criminal so you should never rely on the first impression.
The most basic way to mitigate employment risks is to use background checks on all employees, no matter the position they occupy within the company.
It’s very easy to order a national police check on a job applicant, since in Australia you can do that through an online agency.
A popular pre-employment check like a national criminal history check will in most cases not burden the HR department with more bureaucracy they already handle. An ever increasing number of Australian employers use pre-employment background check services as it only takes a few minutes to fill in the required information. This is all done with the applicant’s consent.
Then you can see what sort of person you’re dealing with. If the applicant has never been in trouble with the law, you can totally hire them. On the other hand, if you find out they have previous convictions for violence, sexual abuse, harassment, and anything similar, you need to be very careful. Bringing such a person into the organisation puts practically anyone at risk.
Also, should the police check reveal offences such as theft or fraud, you might not hire that person in a position where they’ll have easy access to company funds.
Maybe the job applicant was never convicted of any crime, but you need to know what sort of person he or she is. Most Australian companies now use informal social media account checks to find out more about a candidate’s views on many topics. You don’t want to hire someone with misogynistic views as supervisor if you have many female employees.
Sooner or later something bad may happen and you’ll have to face the consequences if there are not adequate employment risk mitigation controls in your workplace.
There are a number of ways that employers and decision-makers can go about in obtaining background checks for prospective employees. It is important to make sure that regardless of what method is ultimately used, the check is carried out with the consent of the applicant who is the subject of the check.
Also, all legitimate checks that provide employers and decision-makers with ample risk mitigation assessment are paid services. For example, criminal history checks, bankruptcy checks and so on are all paid services.
As a decision-maker, you may be able to obtain a free background check by screening an applicant’s social media accounts (e.g. their LinkedIn) and so on, however, the information obtained from such a strategy will most likely not provide a sound means to make an informed decision about a candidate.
Violence in the workplace - https://www.aic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-05/rpp022.pdf