Additional, role-related checks

Last updated August 2023

Additional, role-related pre-employment checks are required for some roles at the University. These can include Occupational Health Service assessments, criminal record checks, or other external agency checks. Researchers who need to work within the NHS may also need a Research Passport.

The University’s Personnel Security Policy requires that checks should be proportionate and appropriate for the duties and the environment of the post and that a risk-based approach should be followed, which would include considering alternative risk mitigations measures which may be more effective than external checks. 

Planning stage - risk assessment and mitigation

When planning a recruitment departments should consider whether any additional checks will be required. Where these are indicated, departments should carry out a risk assessment and consider whether there are any possible mitigating measures which would reduce/minimise the risks and thereby remove the need for the checks. A standard risk assessment approach measuring seriousness and likelihood of risk can be useful. The employee's job description, working circumstances and environment should be considered.  For example, will the postholder carry out close and unsupervised work with vulnerable groups? If so, can the role be adjusted so that supervision is available and the work is no longer ‘regulated activity’?  Where the work is in sensitive areas are there CCTV or other physical security measures which reduce the risk? Are the activities key to the role or could they be reframed? 

If additional checks are still required, the guidance in this section should be followed.

However, any additional checks should always be undertaken in the context of wider pre-employment checks and it should be recognised that such checks only indicate possible reasons not to employ - they do not positively indicate suitability for employment.

Before checks are started

In all cases where additional checks are to be carried out the applicant concerned must be:

  • advised in advance that screening is being carried out (the checks must also be stated in the job description at the time of advertising the post)
  • given the reason for screening
  • advised of the eventual outcome (and given the right to respond to adverse findings).

Checking ID

Any supporting documentation provided by candidates must be original and should be validated as far as is practicable. The Disclosure and Barring Service website has guidance on checking documentation such as passports, driving licences, birth certificates and potential indicators of fraud.

After carrying out checks

Should a check indicate anything adverse about the candidate's employability, departments should contact their HR Business Partner for advice before liaising with the individual.


What types of checks are available?

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All new starters, including those changing role, should complete and return a New Starter Health Declaration. In addition a pre-employment health check is needed for roles which have specific physical requirements such as working at height, climbing stairs or manual handling, or involve exposure to hazardous environments or substances (blood, chemicals, allergens, etc). The check is carried out by the Occupational Health Service, using the New starter health questionnaire. OHS may also recommend ongoing health monitoring.

By completing the Hazard specific and safety critical checklist (available on the right-hand side of the page) you can identify whether a pre-employment health check is required. If so, a New Starter Health Questionnaire is produced via PeopleXD with the offer letter. The department must complete the necessary sections of the form, in order to identify the Fitness to work clearance must be received from OHS before a new starter may commence their appointment, or commence the safety-critical duties. 

Where the Questionnaire is sent it will be essential to receive Occupational Health sign-off before an individual may commence employment (to ensure the safety of the candidate within that particular post, and where applicable, consider if reasonable adjustments can be arranged to enable the employee to carry out the duties of the role offered).

Find out more about new starter health checks

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For certain posts a check of a candidate's criminal record should be carried before a new starter can commence their employment. These checks are carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) who are also responsible for the child and adult workforce 'barred lists'.

In some cases a detailed check may be a legal requirement. In others, whilst a DBS check may be possible the University’s Personnel Security Policy requires that the University takes a “proportionate and risk-based approach” to screening.  Risk mitigations and alternative approaches should be considered before a DBS checks is considered, and departments are asked to think carefully about what a DBS disclosure would meaningfully indicate about an individuals’ suitability for the role.

DBS checks must be carried out by a 'Responsible Organisation' (RO).   For clinical posts this is normally carried out by the relevant NHS Trust.  For other posts the OUSS no longer process DBS checks and departments can request checks via Horus Security Services Ltd which is a registered RO and has an on-line portal.

Find out more about:

-  DBS checks

Horus Security Services Ltd

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A Research Passport is an application form that a researcher, not employed by an NHS organisation, completes to inform an NHS Trust of the research activity that is intended to be conducted within an individual Trust. The information confirmed in the application form enables Trusts to have confidence that the process to carry out criminal record and other checks for an honorary researcher is in line with NHS Employment Check Standards.

Find out more about Research Passports

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In cases where a risk assessment has identified a particular security risk, which cannot be satisfactorily mitigated, higher level screening services may be considered. Horus Security Consultancy Ltd is an approved University external provide and can carry out a range of checks including for posts conducting research involving animals (or working closely with such research); or with access to/ knowledge of the location of certain pathogens, toxins, irradiators (under the provisions of UPS S6/11)

Services include:

  • identity verification
  • basic background checks
  • employment, education and background checks to verify and audit a person’s CV (including online searches)

Find out more about Horus Security Consultancy Ltd

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Departments considering credit/financial background checks should first seek advice from their HR Business Partner about whether such checks would be appropriate or proportionate.

Financial or credit checks are only appropriate in very limited cases, for example, for posts of significant financial responsibility such as a Finance Director. Such checks provide an insight into whether the individual has been the subject of any County Court Judgements (CCJs), or any other adverse finding, especially in relation to investment, financial business misconduct or fraud (eg money laundering).

In most cases it is unlikely to provide relevant information about an individual’s suitability for employment and may constitute an unreasonable intrusion into an individual’s personal circumstances. A poor credit rating, for example, may be due to factors such as sickness, unpaid career breaks for caring reasons, or other external factors, and may risk appearing discriminatory.

Where credit checks are carried out, the findings of all other pre-employment checks should also be considered when deciding on the suitability of the individual for the post. Adverse findings should be discussed with your HR Business Partner before deciding how to proceed further.

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