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How getting a DBS check on new employees can reduce fraud and help protect your business

June 17, 2015

It’s natural to want to protect your business. After working hard to get where you are today, you want to do all you can to safeguard your company against any potential threats.

While many companies are cracking down on criminal attacks from burglars, they often disregard the threat of fraudulent attacks from their very own staff, which can have even worse consequences for their business.

Cases of fraud cost businesses the equivalent of 5% of their annual revenue, a report by the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse revealed.

While loss of short-term profits is detrimental to any business, it isn’t the worst consequence of internal fraud. Imagine if an employee gained access to sensitive customer data and used it to their advantage. This could result in terrible repercussions for your customers, a badly damaged brand reputation for your business, and cause lasting, long-term harm to your firm.

72% of cases of business fraud involves employees

In the last year, 72% of fraud cases affecting businesses involved an internal employee, according to the Kroll Global Fraud Report. Aside from screening someone’s CV, interviewing them and checking their references, what control do businesses have to ensure they are hiring the right candidate?

Advances in technology have made it easier to carry out fraud, especially when it comes to making false claims about background history, identity and experience. With this in mind, businesses need to have a fool-proof way to confirm that their employees aren’t making any false claims.

Protect your business by obtaining DBS checks for staff

One of the easiest ways that businesses can protect themselves from internal attack is by obtaining a Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) check for their employees.

DBS checks replaced CRB checks in 2012. They access an individual’s criminal record and disclose information on whether they have received any cautions, reprimands, warnings and convictions so that an employer can make a more informed decision during the recruitment process.

Traditionally, a DBS check was required for specific roles that involved working closely with children and vulnerable adults, or when someone was looking to adopt or foster a child. However, more recently, employers have been using the checks to promote a safer working environment.

The different types of DBS check available

There are three levels of DBS check that can be obtained;

  1. Standard disclosure
  2. Enhanced check
  3. Enhanced check with list

A standard level of DBS check will suffice for most occupations, these checks search the applicant’s criminal history for any cautions, warnings, reprimands and unspent convictions.

If your industry involves working closely with vulnerable people and children, you will need to obtain an enhanced DBS check and enhanced with list, which in addition to searching the applicant’s criminal record, provides additional information that the police deem relevant for the application.

Finally, the enhanced check with list also confirms that their name does not appear on the two Barred Lists (formerly known as the ISA barred lists) which contain the names of individuals who are banned from working with children or adults.

How to DBS check employees

Obtaining a DBS check is a straightforward process. With specialist DBS check websites allowing you to now complete the process online, the application can be underway in less than 24 hours.

A standard or an enhanced check can be requested by an employer on behalf of the individual. Once you have the successful job applicant’s permission to conduct the check, you will need to provide details about them – including their full name, address, date of birth and proof of identity – to an umbrella body.

As most small businesses hire fewer than 100 employees a year, they may use a registered company to process DBS checks on their behalf. There are now many online DBS check services, which allow you to apply online or over the phone, streamlining the process for organisations to allow them to accelerate their security processes.

If you are a larger organisation that hires over 100 employees a year, you will need to register with the Disclosure and Barring Service yourselves, which costs £300 and a further £5 for every countersignatory (people in your organisation who have permission to handle DBS applications), which enables you to process the DBS applications yourself.

When the check has been completed, you will receive a copy of the certificate containing a list of the applicant’s criminal history. A copy will also be sent to the subject’s home address.

To promote security, the certificates will have a ‘crown seal’ watermark repeated down the right side, visible on the surface and when held up to the light. There will also be a background design featuring the word ‘Disclosure’, and the ink and paper change colour when wet.

When to obtain a check

An employer should only arrange a DBS check for a current employee or a successful job applicant. Once the check is completed, employers have the right to withdraw employment if the check reveals something that makes the applicant unsuitable for the role.

While these rigorous background checks are useful to provide employers with more information, it is an offence to use this information against applicants in a discriminative way.

Unless your business directly works with vulnerable adults and the applicant’s name appears on a Barred List, it is entirely at your discretion whether you decide to hire someone with a criminal record.

Benefits of DBS checking employees

There are numerous benefits of obtaining a DBS check for your employees that go further than just protecting your business from internal fraud. According to research by HireRight;;

  • 16% of employers that used background checks during the recruitment process found that screening reduced employee theft
  • 11% said that employee violence had also been reduced
  • 42% reported that it had improved safety in the workplace overall
  • 72% of businesses claimed that the background check had uncovered information about the candidate that they wouldn’t have known otherwise
  • 67% of businesses that used DBS checks during the recruitment process claimed that it improved the quality of hire, leading to a more efficient and productive workforce.

As an employer, you have the duty to ensure the safety of your staff and conducting a DBS check is a simple and effective way to do so.

Conducting a DBS check shouldn’t be seen as an invasion of privacy, many companies are using it to screen candidates in the earlier stages of the hiring process to save themselves time and money.

Stating to job applicants from the outset, that you will be obtaining a valid DBS check if they were offered the role can prevent some candidates from applying for the role in the first place, reducing the risk of fraud.

What is the cost of getting a DBS check?

Small businesses may be concerned about keeping their costs down, but as the price of a DBS check is far less expensive than paying for the damages that may occur if they employ the wrong person, it’s a simple decision to make.

A standard DBS check is £26, whereas enhanced checks are £44. Organisations must remember that a DBS check has no expiry date, so it is up to the employer how often they ask their employees to go through the check.

About the author

This guide to DBS checks has been written for ByteStart by Richard Mellor, Chairman of Personnel Checks, which specialises in DBS checks. Personnel Checks has helped thousands of customers to process their criminal record checks, ensuring the safety of UK businesses.

More help on managing staff

For more guidance on employment issues, try some ByteStart’s other guides;

And for tips and ideas on how to get the best out of your staff;