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Should all adviser firms carry out DBS checks on staff?

If your staff are handling sensitive client information, should you have DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks done as a matter of course? Hannah Wilby, marketing manager, Personnel Checks writes

There’s so much to think about when running a small business and you can argue that the key to success is being able to get your priorities right.

Most burgeoning enterprises will spend the bulk of their time ensuring that their finances are in order – cash flow is king, after all. If your accounts are in disarray, you can’t pitch for new contracts, you can’t pay your suppliers and you can’t pay your staff.

With the General Election approaching, there’s inevitably been much talk about business finance. A new study conducted by Close Brothers showed that almost one in five SMEs have delayed investment decisions because they are unsure about how the election is going to pan out. Additionally, 13% of the survey respondents stated that it is now more difficult for businesses to gain access to finance than it was a year ago.

Having learnt some harsh lessons during the global economic crisis, it goes without saying that maintaining healthy accounts is at the very top of the agenda for UK-based SMEs, and rightly so, but is this causing companies to overlook other important aspects of their organisation?

Internal threats

Without wanting to sound too ominous, sometimes the biggest threats to a business come from within.

Running a small business is a steep learning curve and budding entrepreneurs will make mistakes, especially when it comes to recruitment. No matter how many interviews you conduct or how closely you scrutinise each applicant before giving them a job, you can never be 100% certain that the people you hire are reliable and trustworthy.

With the Information Commissioner’s Office continuing to dish out hefty fines to businesses that fail to abide by the UK’s data protection laws, it’s imperative that SMEs keep their customers’ sensitive data secure.

According to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, 58% of large UK companies suffered a staff-related security breach in 2014, while the same applied to 22% of small businesses. Around one in three of the worst incidents were caused accidentally, although 20% were purposeful acts. Encouragingly, the threat posed by in-house staff – whether accidental or intentional – appears to be falling, which suggests that businesses are being increasingly careful.

DBS checks 

DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks are usually associated with companies and individuals that work with vulnerable people, but all businesses can benefit from these background checks in some way.

There are various levels of check available but essentially they give an employer peace of mind that their staff haven’t got a criminal history and are suitable for the role in question. The whole checking system has been streamlined in the past few years, so it’s now easier than ever for organisations to request DBS checks for their employees.

Formal checking

While businesses that operate in the care sector are already accustomed to acquiring checks for their staff, it’s high time that organisations in other fields introduced formal checking policies.

As mentioned, there’s only so much information you can glean from a person’s social media profiles or job interviews when you come to hire new recruits, so having official proof that a person has no prior convictions can be reassuring. This is particularly true if said person is to be trusted with a key to your premises or they are required to handle cash or sensitive data.

Businesses will have devised a certain way to manage and monitor their finances, and will know exactly when their financial years ends and when they need to make tax contributions. Applying this kind of careful organisation to your recruitment processes can pay dividends. Make sure that once all interviews have been completed, job candidates are routinely given a DBS check. You might even make it a company-wide policy that all new applicants must have completed their own checks before they come to work for you.

Adopting this stance not only reassures yourself, but it can also enhance your reputation among potential customers. If they see how meticulous you are, they’ll feel far more comfortable working with you, especially if they need to share any sensitive data with you.

While it appears that internal threats are becoming less common across the UK, why risk hiring someone without doing a quick background check first?

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