References – Still A Risky Business
A recent case has confirmed that if an employer gives a negative reference for an employee who has raised a complaint of discrimination against it, that employer will be liable for compensating the employee fully. The fact that third parties may have also acted unlawfully in refusing to employ the person will not limit the amount that the original employer has to pay.
Current case law shows that if an employer provides a reference, it must be prepared with reasonable care and be fair, accurate and not misleading. This essentially means that an employer can prepare a positive or a negative reference, providing its decision to do so is justified.
To avoid disagreements or protracted discussions with employees about the content of a reference, employers often have a policy which is consistently applied to all staff of providing a basic factual reference. This might, for example, simply give the dates of employment and the employee’s position on leaving. Such a policy (if applied uniformly to all staff) is also useful for avoiding potential claims from the ex-employee or prospective employer if the reference is misleading in any way.
Employer’s Reference Was Not Negligent
Providing references for past employees can be risky for employers when it comes to unfavorable information. While there is no duty to provide a reference, it is well established that a duty of care (truth, accuracy, and fairness) is required when giving a reference. Employers must ensure any comments they provide are backed with sufficient evidence in order to avoid lengthy and costly negligence claims. In the recent case of Jackson v Liverpool City Council, an employer chose to leave several unfavorable questions unanswered to avoid running the risk of a negligence case. The employer answered many questions positively, including the employee’s strengths, yet also noted record-keeping concerns, which were never fully investigated. When the employee in question sued for damages, the judge initially agreed the reference was unfair because the employee never had the opportunity to dispute the allegations. However, the Court of Appeals disagreed, holding the employer had not acted negligently and that the reference was in fact, fair. The employer’s actions here successfully achieved a balance between not giving inaccurate or unsupported statements while also not misleading a prospective employer.
Facebook, Twitter and Other New, Risky Recruitment Tools
A recent study by Chartered Psychologist Rob Bailey from OPP, concludes that companies who use social networking sites (SNS) to vet potential new employees are at risk of violating employment and data protection laws. SNS screening has the potential to result in a charge of discrimination if a job applicant is denied based on subjective biases rather than sound work-related criteria. The online study analyzed a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 people of working age in the UK and Ireland. The study found that 65 percent of respondents said they were likely to look at a potential employee’s online presence prior to interviewing them. Bailey advises those organizations that choose to run the risk of using SNSs in their recruitment process to, “prepare a clear company policy based on sound legal advice.” He also advises potential job candidates to protect themselves by having privacy settings completely activated.
Cost Of Retail Theft Soars Despite Increased Crime Prevention Spend
The cost of retail crime soared year-on-year in 2010 despite retailers investing more than £210m in crime prevention. The number of offences affecting retailers dropped by 11% year-on-year, but thieves increasingly targeted higher value products. The average value of goods stolen rose to £70 from £45 the previous year. Shoplifters stole goods worth almost £400,000 every day last year according to the BRC’s Retail Crime Survey. Over £137m of goods was stolen, up from £99m in 2009.
Vetting Scheme To Be Less Bureaucratic And Intimidating In New Common Sense Approach
Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg announced that more than nine million people working or volunteering with children and vulnerable adults will no longer need to register and be monitored by the state following a scaling back of the Vetting and Barring scheme (VBS). Criminal record checks will be portable between jobs to cut down on needless bureaucracy. “The new system will be less bureaucratic and less intimidating. It will empower organisations to ask the right questions and make all the appropriate pre-employment checks, and encourage everyone to be vigilant,” Clegg said. The plans are part of a new Protection of Freedoms Bill and update the VBS, which was due to start in July. The bill includes an end to a requirement for those working or volunteering with vulnerable groups to register with the VBS and then be continuously monitored by the Independent Safeguarding Authority, and a halt to employers knowingly requesting criminal records checks on individuals when they are not entitled to them.
“The Freedoms Bill will protect millions of people from state intrusion in their private lives and mark a return to common sense government. It delivers on our commitment to restore hard-won British liberties with sweeping reforms that will end the unnecessary scrutiny of law-abiding individuals,” said Clegg.
Camden Council Driver Cleared By CRB Abuses Child
A man cleared in a background check had child abuse convictions and went on to abuse a child. The “vulnerable” child was abused while being driven to school in 2008 by the man working for Camden Council. Despite convictions abroad for abuse, the driver had been given a green light by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).The council has been fined £1,200, while the a spokeswoman for the Home Office, which runs the CRB, said: “The CRB has always been clear that if organisations recruit from overseas, a CRB check may not provide a complete picture of an individual’s criminal history. “The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating how the driver was given CRB clearance by the Home Office.
Home Office Plans For CRB Replacement
The Home Office has issued a tender for a company to run outsourced disclosure and barring services. The new service will bring the CRB and ISA together, and is aimed at supporting the implementation of the protection of freedoms bill. It will involve the receipt and processing of referrals for a barring decision, applications for disclosure, workflow management, customer and registration services, the issuing of certificates, payment services and running a call centre.
CRB Checks Top 30 Million but Create ‘Atmosphere of Mistrust’
Adults would rather ignore a lost or injured child than be accused of being a pedophile, according to campaigners who believe mass vetting over the past decade has actually left young people more at risk by creating an atmosphere of mistrust. New figures by The Daily Telegraph show that 32million Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks have been carried out in the past decade, at a cost of 1.5billion.Originally intended for professionals who work closely with children, background screening is now used for anyone involved in community work. The Manifesto Club, a libertarian group that campaigns against increasing state interference in everyday life, questions how many children and vulnerable adults have been protected by the vetting regime and argues that CRB checks are no guarantee of safety.
“The current system of employment checking has become excessive,” said a Home Office spokesman. “This is why we are scaling the regime back to common sense levels so that the public are properly protected but the number of unnecessary checks is substantially reduced.”
Sex Offender Doctors Still Allowed To Work
The GMC Chief Executive, Niall Dickson, said: “Cases of doctors convicted of sexual assault or child pornography offences are very rare and in the vast majority of these cases these doctors are struck off the medical register so they cannot practise medicine in the UK.” However, a spokesman for the Council said the decision on whether to strike off a doctor was taken by an independent panel of experts. Individual hospitals, however, can impose their own sanctions on doctors.
An investigation found that of the 31 licensed doctors with convictions for sex offences, four have records of sexual assaults, four have been convicted of child pornography offences, two committed voyeurism or exposure offences and 21 solicited prostitutes or were caught kerb-crawling.
Duplicate Crime Checks for Volunteers to be Scrapped, Home Office Confirms
Beginning Spring 2013, a service will be launched that the Home Office says will save time and cut the burden of bureaucracy that volunteers currently face when they apply for work in different roles.
Individuals will only have to apply once to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for a certificate and then with consent, organizations will be able to use an online service for an instant check to find out whether the document is still valid. At the moment, a person who has been screened to volunteer in a school needs to have a separate check before helping out a different group. The changes also affect people who need to be vetted for their jobs, such as doctors and agency workers, who often need new checks when moving posts or changing agencies. Volunteering campaigners have welcomed the move, as unpaid workers will be able to use the online service for free when they apply for different opportunities. For paid employees, there will be an annual subscription fee.
The UK Remains Europe’s Bogus University Capital
The UK remains Europe’s bogus university capital with 57% percent of European diploma mills claiming to operate from its shores. This year has seen a 25% increase in known diploma mills in the UK, with the number rising from 271 to 339, whilst in Europe as a whole the total number has risen from 454 to 593, an increase of 31%.
Country Number % Change
For further information or to read the Accredibase™ report for 2011, please visit www.accredibase.com
Fraud By Employees is Growing
Fraud by employees is the fastest growing economic crime, accounting for between 60% and 85% of all fraud committed against businesses – depending whose figures you believe. The annual Fraud Barometer, published by KPMG, showed a 50% increase in the first half of 2008. Bank related fraud recorded its highest ever year-on-year rate of increase.
In attempting to prevent fraudulent acts being committed by employees a great deal of emphasis is placed on employee screening ahead of employment, either by a firm’s own HR professionals or through third parties, such as employment agencies. Realistically, such measures cannot be relied on to do more than deter and filter out some applicants, with existing ‘form’. Even if effective screening can be afforded at all levels of an organisation, the emphasis on new employees can be misleading. Fraud experts point out that individual fraud is often perpetrated by employees who have a significant length of service. According to the Workplace Law Network ” 90% of fraudulent employees have been with their employer for more than a year – and 20% for more than a decade ”
If you can’t keep fraudsters out of your business, robust internal controls will serve to detect as well as to deter.
Businesses Fighting More Fraud Than Ever
UK businesses are now fighting more fraud than ever before, according to new research from KPMG. January to June 2011 saw UK fraud reach £1.1bn, from £609m during the same period of 2010. The research found that whilst the greatest burden of fraud, by value and number of cases, has been borne by Government agencies, the private sector is also under intense attack.The analysis found that the average case value of private sector fraud has jumped from £2.5m in January – June 2010, to £4.2m for the same period this year.The majority of fraud is committed by professional criminals, the research found, with fraud perpetrated by criminal gangs rising 107% in the first half of 2011.
Fraud Accounted for Record £3.5 Billion Loss in 2011
More than APS3.5 billion worth of fraud was recorded in 2011, a record year, as a result of the continuing poor economic conditions, a study has revealed. KPMG’s Fraud Barometer showed that APS2.5 billion worth of fraud was recorded in the second half of the year alone. Hitesh Patel, KPMG forensic partner, said, “2011 was an extraordinary year for fraudsters — as demonstrated by the record losses through large-scale cases of fraud which dominated the headlines. The economic uncertainty has been the double edged sword behind these numbers.” The public sector suffered more than APS1 billion worth of fraud, although the financial sector was the main target, with 59 cases recording a total of APS1.5 billion. The report also found that fraud by management accounted for the majority of cases with a value of APS729 million.
Employee Fraud Went Up 40% in 2012
Fraud committed by employees in the UK rocketed by over 40% last year, according to the UK’s fraud prevention service, CIFAS. Fraud ranges from deception in the hunt for employment, namely by holding or falsely declaring information such as qualifications or failing to disclose previous convictions. Furthermore, attempts to gain benefit by deception or manipulation while in a job (such as stealing cash from customer accounts or employers) increased by 22%. Beyond the damage done by fraudsters within the organization’s walls – namely to the balance sheets, customer confidence and staff morale – CIFAS communications manager Richard Hurley said it can also lead to regulatory and legal punishments to organizations. “Some organizations have invested in better protection and controls – enabling them to identify and prevent more fraud,” said Hurley “While these types of fraud are thankfully less commonplace than fraud attempts from outside an organization, the damage that they can cause is as serious, if not more so.” Employers can help to prevent fraud by sharing data on confirmed cases in order to prevent such fraudsters from simply moving on to another organization.
-DATA PROTECTION AND PRIVACY-
Data Protection In Outsourcing Transactions: The UK Experience
This article outlines some key issues companies should consider regarding the processing of personal information in UK outsourcing transactions. In particular it explains: the principles that the DPA contains concerning the processing of personal data (see box, the DPA’s data protection principles);what types of data the DPA covers; the key rights that the DPA gives to data subjects; The consequences for companies of breaching the DPA and the key issues that arise in outsourcing transactions as a result of the DPA’s requirements.
The United Kingdom Could Get A Privacy Commissioner
The United Kingdom could get a dedicated Privacy Commissioner, according to a tabled discussion in the House of Lords. We learned of the tabled amendment via Privacy International, which pointed followers towards the document on Twitter and told the INQUIRER that such a change is needed in the UK, due to what is a poor data protection situation for UK citizens.
Information Commissioner Lays Out Plans for This Year
UK Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, believes the start of 2012 “marks a pivotal moment for both data protection and freedom of information.” The ICO has released its Information Rights Strategy, which reveals their priorities in the areas of health; credit and finance; criminal justice; Internet and mobile services; and information security. For the first time, the ICO describes the information rights outcomes they are seeking and explain their approach to securing compliance. Their approach for the coming year will be “practical but principled” and focused on speaking up for information rights. Graham cautions businesses under economic pressures to avoid cutting corners and pushing boundaries when it comes to data protection and freedom of information because severe consequences can and will result.
Information Commissioner Offers One Day Advisory Visits
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has introduced informal advisory visits for small to medium sized businesses, charities, not-for-profit organizations and public authorities seeking improvement ideas on their data protection practices. The ICO has indicated it will put a priority on audits of organizations it considers high-risk, but the informal visits will provide lower-risk organizations with access to the ICO’s good practice team. The one-day advisory visits will focus on the areas of security, records management and requests for personal data. The ICO will also ensure the policies and procedures are appropriate and being followed. A follow-up report will then summarize the findings and identify areas for improvement.
Information Commissioner Says it is Time to “Wake Up and Smell the Monetary Penalty”
As the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) launches its 2011/12 annual report, information commissioner Christopher Graham said that organizations are learning “the hard way” about the consequences of mishandling people’s information. Within the past year, there has been a 60% increase in the number of audits carried out by the ICO good practice team. Its new powers to tackle unsolicited marketing calls and texts have now extended to issuing a monetary penalty of up to £500,000 on the worst offenders. “We hope these penalties send a clear message to both the public and private sectors that they cannot afford to fail when it comes to handling people’s data correctly,” said Graham. In addition, the ICO has set up a dedicated team to enforce the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations, executed search warrants at sites across the UK that are suspected of breaking the law and set up an online reporting mechanism on their website that allows people to report any marketing texts or calls from unidentified senders.
Licensing for PIs Just Around the Corner
The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee released its long awaited findings on private investigators, recommending full licensing and regulation of the industry by 2015. This is an industry machine well oiled by growing numbers of operators able to set up from the comfort of a bedroom, with easy access to a substantial black market in personal information at their fingertips. Currently, 2,332 registered data controllers are listed as private investigators, although the Association of British Investigators (ABI) estimates the actual number of investigators at work in the UK today to be closer to 10,000. Existing penalties for Data Protection Act breaches are inadequate, with a typical fine being around £100. Licensing will pave the way for far stiffer penalties as rogue operators are faced with the prospect of losing their licensing and the right to trade as a private investigator. The report also seeks to weaken the current cozy relationship between investigators and police, or former members of the police who will have to wait for at least a year after leaving the force until dipping their toe into the murky world of private investigation.
Open Data White Paper: Unleashing the Potential
Data is the 21st century’s new raw material. In the last 20 years, the world has opened up and citizens across the globe are proclaiming their right to data. Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, Francis Maude, believes the UK is at the start of a global movement towards transparency – and that they are leading the world in making data more freely available. By opening up, Maude states it will empower citizens, foster innovation and reform public services. “We’re creating an information marketplace for entrepreneurs and businesses; releasing valuable raw data from real-time transport information to weather data,” says Maude. Opening up data is underpinning the central Government’s public service reforms by offering people informed choices that simply haven’t existed before, exposing what is inadequate and driving improvement. To ensure that there are no inequalities in the data market, the Government will enhance access to data, build greater trust in public data, and ensure that their public services are more personalized and efficient in the future. They are determined to shift the culture of the public sector to improve data sharing where it is in the public interest and within legislative boundaries, and they will use the latest technology to deliver this.
ICO Issues Top Five Areas for Improvement for SMBs
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) top five areas for improvement for small and medium-sized businesses are: Tell people what you are doing with their data; Make sure your staff are adequately trained; Use strong passwords; Encrypt all portable devices; and Only keep people’s information for as long as necessary. The ICO has also recommended that charities and third sector organizations do a data protection ‘check-up’, as they often handle sensitive information such as individuals’ medical details and are potentially more susceptible to encountering a serious data breach. An ICO advisory visit is offered free of charge to give small and medium-sized organizations the opportunity to discuss and receive practical advice from the ICO aimed at improving their data protection practices.
Next Steps Making midata a Reality
The Government has recently highlighted its proposals for the ground breaking midata programme, as part of its ongoing consultation and progress review which sets out measures to provide it with a legal framework. The Government is committed to putting the UK at the forefront of this rapidly developing market which is why the consultation proposes introducing a power that, when exercised, would give new rights to consumers to access their personal transaction data in an electronic, portable and machine-readable format. midata was launched in April 2011 as part of Government’s consumer empowerment strategy, Better Choices: Better Deals. The programme is a partnership between the UK Government, consumer groups and major businesses aimed at giving consumers access to the data created through their household utility use, banking, internet transactions and high street loyalty cards. Allowing people to access and use this personal data has the potential to open up a wealth of opportunities for consumers and businesses, promoting growth across the wider economy.
Data Protection Notification: Is Your Organization Committing a Criminal Offence?
Some organisations may be falling foul of the Data Protection Act 1998 by failing to notify details of their personal data processing to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Notification is a legal requirement for every organisation that processes personal information (unless they are exempt), and failure to comply with this obligation is a criminal offence.
The (ICO) maintains a public register of organisations that process personal data, together
with details about the types of personal information they process and the purposes for
which they process it. The register and each organisation’s individual notification are publicly available to view via the ICO website.
Data Protection During Recruitment: Top 10 Tips For Managers
Complying with the Data Protection Act (“DPA”) is increasingly a concern for employers as failure to do so brings the prospect of negative publicity and ultimately, significant fines.
Personal data is defined as information which relates to a living person where that person can be identified from the data either alone or in conjunction with other data held by the employer. So, in
the context of recruitment, a completed application form is likely to constitute personal data. Some documents used during the recruitment process (e.g. medical questionnaires, interview notes) may also contain “sensitive personal
data.” This is information which relates, for example, to the person’s race, religion, political views, health information etc. Such data, because of its nature, attracts a higher level of protection and must be handled with particular care. The DPA requires all types of personal data to be processed fairly and lawfully in accordance with
the requirements of the legislation.
With this in mind, how should employers process personal data received during the recruitment
process to ensure that they are complying with the DPA? This article, suggest 10 “Top Tips” for dealing with personal data during the recruitment process.
ICC Revised Cookie Guidance Builds on ICO Guide in ‘Practical Way’
UK Continues to Oppose New Single EU Data Protection Law Regime
The UK remains opposed to a single data protection regime across member states and is joined in its resistance by Denmark, Slovenia, Belgium, Hungary and Sweden. The countries plan to back a new data protection directive, while Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Greece and Ireland have indicated support for a new regulation instead. In January the Commission outlined plans to bring the EU’s data protection framework up-to-date with the digital age. Its proposed General Data Protection Regulation would replace the existing regime. Currently EU member states have slightly different data protection laws from one another, a consequence of the way those countries have implemented the 1995 Data Protection Directive into national laws. While the wording of EU Directives does not have to be precisely copied into national laws, EU Regulations do contain a binding set of rules that, if approved, apply across the entire trading bloc. UK Justice Minister Helen Grant said, “I believe that the proposed EU data protection legislation is too prescriptive, which is why I am pushing for legislation that is less burdensome-providing protection without stifling growth and innovation.”
UK Government Challenges Expected Benefits of Draft European Data Protection Regulation
The UK government published its Impact Assessment of the draft European data protection regulation and challenges the European Commission estimated that harmonizing the European data protection regime would bring a net administrative benefit of €2.3 billion to the EU. The UK Ministry of Justice analysis of the proposals concluded that for the UK alone there would be an annual net cost of between £100 million and £360 million.
The UK government takes the position that the Commission failed to take into account all of the costs that would arise from the draft regulation.
The UK government stated that it will use the evidence set out in its Impact Assessment to “continue to push for a lasting data protection framework that is proportionate, and that minimizes the burdens on businesses and other organizations, while giving individuals real protection in how their personal data is processed.”
New Year’s Resolution: Stop Voluntary Budget Cuts!
According to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the National Health Service (NHS) and the local government are two areas where there are significant and widespread data protection compliance concerns. The ICO has levied monetary penalties for data security breaches by the NHS totaling £945,000 since the penalties were first introduced in April 2010. This is effectively a £1 million budget cut that could have been avoided. Public organizations have unique data protection responsibilities and challenges, particularly as personal information is central to delivering their services. Indeed, data protection and information governance will become even more key to their mission as services evolve to deal with remote access and multiple platforms. Getting the right data protection measures in place avoids the distraction of data protection breaches and wasted costs of monetary penalties. At the same time, it contributes towards an organization that can use information effectively, as well as lawfully. Some key action points for effectively protecting personal data and avoiding fines include: conducting a data protection audit to analyze risk, adopting both physical and electronic data security methods and having appropriate policies, procedures and practices in place with a clear line of accountability.
Duty of Care: Employers Beware
The recent case of Mr Robert McKie v Swindon College  EWHC 469, serves as a warning to employers about the risk of poor communication regarding former employees. McKie was fired from a newly attained job at the University of Bath on the basis of an e-mail sent by his previous employer, Swindon College. The e-mail in question contained information about McKie that subsequently caused him to suffer damages and was determined by the Court to have “flouted elementary standards of fairness, diligence, proper enquiry, natural justice.” The Court ruled in favor of McKie and held that “an employer owed a duty to its former employee to take reasonable care when referring to that former employee in communications with a third party.” This decision expanded the scope of the duty of care on the previously relied upon precedent case (The House of Lords in Spring v Guardian Assurance  2 A.C. 296), to include circumstances beyond simply providing a reference. This was the first time the Court acknowledged, “an employer can, outside a reference situation, owe a former employee a duty of care when communicating with a third party” and went on to say, “if that former employee suffers loss as a result of the communication, they may well be entitled to bring a claim in negligence against their former employer.”
Is the Bribery Act Finally Fit For Purpose?
The Bribery Act 2010, which deals with the procedures that an employer can put in place to prevent bribery, initially received widespread criticism and as a result was delayed before coming into force in July 2011. The Act includes revised guidance by the Ministry of Justice and outlines six key principles for businesses to consider, now including more practical guidance and case studies. The Act states, a commercial organization is guilty if a person “associated” with it pays a bribe to win or retain business for the organization. It also provides that an employer has a defense if it can show that it has in place “adequate procedures” designed to prevent bribery.
Employers should ensure that all their policies (such as whistleblowing and harassment policies), as well as internal practices, interact and comply with their anti-bribery and corruption codes. In addition, contracts of employment should contain a specific clause obliging all employees to comply with anti-bribery policies and practices.
The British Standards Institute (BSI) Has Launched A Standard To Help Organisations Show They Have Robust Anti-Bribery Policies, Practices And Systems In Place
BS 10500 – Specification for an anti-bribery management system responds to a growing requirement and interest in an anti-bribery standard. Interest in the UK has increased in particular as a result of the UK Bribery Act which came into force in July 2011 and introduces a new offence of “failure of a commercial organization to prevent bribery”. Compliance with the new British Standard, BS 10500, will help companies prove to both internal and external stakeholders that appropriate procedures are in place to prevent bribery.
Guide to Freedom of Information Published
The Information Commissioner has published a new plain English Guide to Freedom of Information to help public authorities better understand what the Act says and how to apply it. The guide takes a straightforward look at the law and explains in simple terms what organizations need to do to comply, including how to respond to requests and deciding what information they should routinely publish. “The new Guide to FOI is about demystifying the Act by making the legislation more user-friendly and intelligible,” said Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham. “We’ve done away with legalistic terms in favor of plain and simple language and, for the first time, all of the basic information and advice now lives in one place.”
The Protection of Freedoms Act Receives Royal Assent
The Protection of Freedoms Act contains amendments to the ‘vetting and barring’ scheme, which are of particular interest to health and social care organizations. The amendments were brought in by the previous Government under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and were put on hold by the coalition in June 2010. In the meantime, health and social care organizations and individuals have been left dealing with a partially implemented scheme. The Act restricts the scope of the vetting and barring scheme and makes changes to the system of criminal records. In addition, regulated activity relating to children will no longer include any supervised teaching, training or instruction of children or the provision of care or supervision of children by a person who is being supervised by another. The Act also makes provision for the setting up of a new service, the Disclosure and Barring Service, which will take over the roles of the ISA and the Criminal Records Bureau. It remains the case that all institutions still need to carry out checks on individuals before allowing them to undertake regulated activity.
-DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING-
New G4S Alcohol and Drug Screening Service Ensures Safety at Work
A new service from G4S Secure Solutions (UK) aims to help employers in key business sectors ensure safer working environments, cutting accidents and improving the bottom line. As research reveals an alcohol-related productivity loss to the UK economy estimated at £6.4bn and 60% of employers attributing poor performance at work among staff to alcohol misuse, the Alcohol and Drug Screening service from G4S, the largest security company in the UK, has been launched to provide a complete testing solution to business.
The Drug and Alcohol Screening Service from G4S can be tailored to the precise requirements of the individual business, offering a closely managed but discrete process. This can include developing a comprehensive alcohol and drug policy, carrying out testing, secure on-site sampling, ‘testing for a cause’ (for example after a health and safety incident), and maintaining the secure chain of custody for any samples through to laboratory testing and delivery of results.
As part of its service G4S has certified Alcohol and Drug Screening Officers who can work confidentially on client premises to provide a seamless service, including the maintenance of testing records for audit and compliance purposes.
More Than Half of Employers Don’t Test Company Car Drivers for Alcohol or Drug Use
An annual survey report by the charity Brake, found that more than half of fleets (57%) do not test drivers for alcohol, and an even greater proportion (63%) do not test for illegal drugs. The report was sponsored by Licence Bureau and includes responses from 134 organizations on a range of road risk management issues. This report was published just a few days after the Department for Transport posted provisional figures for crashes involving drink driving during 2011 which revealed a 12% increase in deaths and a 3% increase in seriously injured causalities. Brake’s report also benchmarks companies’ approach to other causes of driver impairment such as driver tiredness, health and eyesight, with four in ten companies not offering eyesight testing for drivers. The survey report features expert advice on tackling driver impairment and case studies of companies who have successfully put procedures in place to mitigate the associated risks.
British MPs Call for Drug Decriminalization
According to a recent report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy reform, the use of drugs should be decriminalized with the least harmful substances regulated and sold in shops. The report, Toward a Safer Drug Policy: Challenges and Opportunities Arising from ‘Legal Highs’, said that the 40-year-old Misuse of Drugs Act needs fundamental reform because it criminalizes young people for drug use, leaving them with reduced life prospects, while creating profits for illegal drug dealers. Instead, “low risk” drugs should be handled like cigarettes, with legal sales and warning labels, while higher risk drugs should be decriminalized. The report also called for the classification of drugs to be removed from the realm of politics and instead be based on scientific evidence. This is the third report in recent months to call for fundamental changes in British drug policy and a move away from a prohibitionist approach to a public health one.
Dealing With Substance Misuse in the Workplace
Britain’s Trade Unions Congress recently estimated that between 3 and 5 percent of all workplace absences in the UK are the result of alcohol use and misuse, while drug screener Concateno estimates that 1 in 30 UK employees have drugs or alcohol in their system while at work. UK employers have responded with an array of drug testing and anti-drug policies. The degree of testing, which can range from urine to blood tests, and the disciplinary approaches taken in the case of a positive result can vary widely between industries, with safety-critical organizations being far more rigorous. Concateno laboratory director Dr. Claire George says that, “the introduction of a balanced policy that includes an Employee Assistance Program providing support and education, as well as drug testing, has been proven to reduce the level of substance misuse in the workplace over time.” Employer support is a crucial element of effective policies on drug and alcohol misuse, and covers counseling services, referral to occupational health practitioners and possibly time off for attendance at support groups such as AA. Disciplinary procedures are a last resort and largely reserved for those ‘caught’ in workplace testing.
Police Not Checking Backgrounds of Foreign Criminals, Report Warns
An official review found that UK police are only conducting background checks on one in seven foreign criminals, while tens of thousands are slipping through the cracks. In the courts last year alone, some 35,000 EU citizens were convicted but previous foreign offences were only sought from the Central Authority for the Exchange of Criminal Records (UKCA) in 5,500 cases, meaning that judges did not know the full offending history of criminals when passing a sentence in the majority of the cases.
The report brought light to the serious issue of foreign criminals working in sensitive positions or with children without their employers knowing their true past. Funding cuts to the UKCA could make the problem worse and pose a “potentially huge” risk to the public, since the report revealed that more than one million crimesare not on the Police National Computer because forces are refusing to pay a fee to obtain the criminal history of offenders. It is recommended that potential employers should be allowed to request a foreign background check if the applicant agreed, and that more work should be done to include fingerprints along with previous convictions to stop offenders turning up in the UK claiming to be someone else.
Man Evaded Police for Six Years
A man on the run for six years for a dangerous driving offence was caught through a criminal record check conducted by his prospective job. In 2004, Charndeep Dayal admitted to dangerous driving, driving without a licenseor insurance, and avoiding penalty by giving the police false identity details and failing to answer his bail. Dayal failed to stop for the police after running a red light at a pedestrian crossing and eventually collided with a park car. He then gave officers his brother’s name, date of birth and address in Essex and was released on bail. He failed to attend at court and when police questioned his brother, they realized he was not the culprit. Dayal was given a 48-week jail sentence, banned from driving for three years, will have to do 250 hours of unpaid work, was placed on a three-month curfew, and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs.
Voluntary Sector Wants Free CRB Checks
Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA) says the new Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) system should be free, to ease the burden on the voluntary sector. Changes will come into place in 2013, which will mean checks can be made online. The new system will also mean volunteers will not have to take a different background check for every volunteer role they take up. OCVA has written to local MPs about its concerns over additional administration fees for the new system and have added their support to Volunteering England’s campaign for entirely free checks for volunteers. “Additional costs like these will take away from the fantastic work the sector does in caring for the most marginalized in society and providing vital services for our communities,” said Lindsay Watts, manager of OCVA’s volunteer centre.
Privacy laws to be overhauled Employers and Recruiters Fined 65.3 Million Since 2008 for Inadequate Candidate Checks, Reveals FOI Request by Giant
Over the last year, 12 million in fines has been issued to employers and recruiters for failing to carry out adequate checks to verify candidates’ right to work in the UK, according to Giant, back office solutions provider to the recruitment industry. According to data obtained under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, the UK Border Agency has issued 6,953 Notification of Liability (NOLs) notices with a total value of 65.3 million since the new system was introduced in February 2008.This new system gave the UK Border Agency the power to issue civil penalties of up to 10,000 to employers for every illegal worker. Despite the tougher regime, not all employers and recruiters consistently carry out right to work checks during the recruitment process.
Matthew Brown, MD of Giant, said: “With unemployment high and immigration a burning political issue, employers and recruiters need to make doubly sure that candidates are fully vetted.”
Could Relaxing Criminal Checks Aid Recruitment?
As the Home Office prepares an appeal against a ruling that would significantly relax the rule around disclosure of an individual’s criminal records when applying for a job, Recruiter hears a more open attitude to criminal history could facilitate recruitment.
Encouraging Year-On-Year Figures for European Recruitment
The newest Monster Employment Index Europe found that recruitment rose by eight percent across the continent, compared to the figures for March 2011. Germany remained at the forefront of recruitment opportunities, with the number of vacancies being advertised on online recruitment portals rising by 23 percent.The UK and Sweden both managed encouraging showings, measuring growth of eight and two percent respectively. Belgium and the Netherlands, however, both experienced major declines of 12 and 20 percent respectively.
“While overall online recruitment remains positive with the Index exhibiting both month-over-month and annual growth, this is combated by a broader deceleration across key markets and industries,” said Monster Europe’s, Alan Townsend. “However, from an occupational standpoint, growth remains strong across the technical and associate level positions, which suggests a hiring of support workers to meet the more immediate business needs.”
Growing Confidence Prompts Positive Outlook Among Business Services Sector
While official figures show the UK economy contracted in the first quarter of the year, data from the business services sector in the Business Factors Index from Bibby Financial Services shows more positive activity for the period.Increases in new customers, orders and business enquiries contributed to firms enjoying a positive start to 2012, despite official figures from the ONS in April announcing a return to recession.The report has found that performance among firms in the business services sector rose from 87.2 during Q4 2011 to 100 in Q1 2012. The number of firms winning new customers also rose from 27% to 46%. Businesses are increasingly more ‘hopeful for the future’ (up 9%), and it appears thatthe number of business services firms seeking external funds to expand and ensure their business is fit for economic recovery also increased.
Edward Winterton, executive director at Bibby Financial Services, says: “The results from the latest Index make encouraging reading for the business services sector, with increases in the number of orders being placed and new customers being won clearly having an impact on overall business confidence.”
UK employment reached three-year peak
The number of Britons in employment has hit the highest level in more than three years as the private sector created new jobs to absorb cuts in the public sector. The rise in employment was driven by the private sector, where 205,000 additional people were employed. The figure offsets the 39,000 public sector jobs that were lost.
Despite this positive news analysts say unemployment will rise this year.
Unemployment Falls as Employment Reaches Record High
The number of people out of work in the UK fell by 50,000 to 2.53 million in the three months leading to August as employment reached a record high of almost 30 million, while the unemployment rate fell to 7.9%. The number of people in employment has not been higher since records began in 1971, while the total level of unemployment is the lowest since spring 2011. Despite the tough economic times, the private sector continues to create jobs and welfare reforms are encouraging people to return to work – with 170,000 fewer people on the main out-of-work benefits than in May 2010. Neil Owen, global practice director at recruiter Robert Half International, says: “While the long-term state of the economy is still unclear, today’s labor market figures are positive and may signal the UK jobs market is finally turning a corner.” The job numbers appear to be driven by flexible working; increases in temporary and part-time positions.
Jobs Picture Looks Brighter, Say Reports
Recruitment activity in the UK is growing.
Financial services firm ICAP says there is more demand for jobs in both the temporary and permanent recruitment markets, with a growth of 7.6% in vacancies.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Labour Market Outlook report also suggests positive news on the job front for the rest of the year.
Online recruitment in the UK has grown for the third consecutive month, according to the Monster Employment Index.
European Vacancy and Recruitment Report 2012
As part of its Europe 2020 ﬂagship initiative ‘An Agenda for New Skills and Jobs’, in 2010 the European Commission (EC) launched the ‘Monitoring Labour Market Developments in Europe’ project. The objective of this project is to increase labour market transparency for all stakeholders who need information about recent developments on the demand side of the labour market, such as decision-makers in the ﬁelds of education and employment, public and private employment services including EURES advisers, education and training providers, career guidance services, and policy and labour market analysts. The European Vacancy and Recruitment Report (EVRR) is a key component of the European Commission’s endeavour to develop a systematic labour market monitoring system focusing on changes in the demand for skills. It is also the ﬁrst European report to present trend information for different types of recruitment agencies. Quantitative and qualitative ﬁndings from a number of national studies and other research are used to augment the empirical evidence and also to enrich the interpretation of the data particularly in respect of the identiﬁcation of ‘bottleneck’ occupations’ and employment opportunities.