State And Local Government Employment Screening Solutions

Accurate Australia helps you build a trusted team that can be counted on to meet the highest standards of integrity, as you work at the coal face of the public sector to meet community expectations.

It can be difficult to decide on an appropriate employment screening package to ensure you hire the right candidates for your State or Local Government agency. This is because you have seemingly competing mandates to – on the one hand – thoroughly vet your candidates, and – on the other hand – to meet the requirements of anti-discrimination law by not carrying out unnessary screening.

This is highlighted by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption in their Recruitment and Selection website article where they state “Employment screening is an important feature of any recruitment and selection strategy” , but also note “such checks are intrusive and time-consuming and should only be used when it is justified given the type of position that is vacant and when informed consent has been provided”.

This complexity requires weighing up of potential risks with other concerns such as non-discrimination, and this consideration needs to be done within the context of each specific role being hired for. The expertise required to develop an appropriate and effective employment screening program has led some agencies (one example being the NSW Government) to outsource the entire operation to organisations like Accurate Australia, to ensure they meet their requirements as well as prevent fraud and uphold community expectations.

According to ICAC, one of the key heuristics to guide these considerations is the degree of trust that will be placed in the role:

“Generally, the greater the position of trust, the more justified an employer is in performing more extensive employment screening, as recommended by the Standard Australia’s AS 4811-2022 Employment screening.”

Why Should You Screen Potential State and Local Government Employees?

Any industry that fails to accurately prescreen employees runs the risk of hiring someone who isn’t qualified for the position or who has a history of negative behaviour. The potential damage from this risk is heightened in the local government sector due to the nature of the roles being hired for requiring even more stringent background checks.”

In addition to the Australian Standards and related legislation, the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) report Strengthening employment screening practices in the NSW public sector states that the reason “why all public sector agencies should screen potential staff members and in some cases, should also re-screen existing staff” is because:

“When members of the public deal with public officials, they have a legitimate expectation that those officials possess the skills and qualifications necessary to perform their job, were not appointed on the basis of a lie and can meet necessary standards of personal integrity.”

Therefore, a comprehensive employment screening process is essential for council and state government recruitment. Employees of local councils and state government agencies are working at the coal face of the public sector, and are subject to the highest of community expectations. Having the information gained from employment screening, during the recruitment process enables you to make informed decisions about a candidate’s suitability for the role.

VerifyNow’s Recommended Essential Screening Checks for Local Councils and State Government

As the law requires, each state has its own code of conduct and employment framework regarding pre-employment screening processes. Beyond that, these checks will vary depending on the organisation and the position being filled.

Employers should therefore consider the essential requirements of the role, identify any associated risks, and determine the screening process necessary to manage those risks.

There are, however, certain checks that are mandated by law depending on the position in question, for example:

  • Working with children checks are necessary where the employee is required to work or volunteer in child-related contexts
  • Working with vulnerable people checks are necessary where the employee is required to work or volunteer with people in vulnerable communities.
  • Security clearances may be necessary where the employee is required to access protected information

Identity Verification

Verifying an individual’s identity is one of the most fundamental screening checks. It is the core check upon which the validity of all other screening depends.

National Police Check

Police checks are generally required when employing individuals to work for State or Local Government entities. While they’re not mandatory for all positions they are one of the most commonly implemented checks out of the recommended list.

Employment History Verification

The Attorney-General’s Department recommends checking the employment history of all new personnel for a period of at least 5 years where applicable. This is important to identify any unexplained gaps or anomalies in employment or a history of short periods of employment that may indicate poor reliability.

Referee Checks

Referee checks are highly recommended for any State or Local Government Entity, to ensure that the candidates integrity and reliability can be verified. The Attorney-General’s Department recommends conduction professional referee checks covering at least the last 3 months.

Qualification Check

Candidates may need formal qualifications, licensing, registration, or professional memberships depending on the government entity. In these cases, it may be necessary to check the validity of their qualifications.

Working with Vulnerable People Check

If your government department delivers services for children and vulnerable people, it’s essential and enforceable by law that you have these checks in place when hiring employees or volunteers

Digital Footprint Check

A digital footprint is the unique pattern of electronic transactions made by an individual’s online presence. This can include information, articles, photos or videos you or others post or share online. A digital footprint check establishes an initial picture of a candidate’s online presence based on publicly available information.

Security Clearances

It may be necessary for the candidate to have a security clearance to perform the duties of the position. For example, where an employee needs to access classified information that is considered protected, an employee may need to undertake a security clearance check with the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA).

Conducting Employment Screening During The Recruitment Process

We believe that all state governments and local councils can improve hiring quality and protect themselves against application fraud by conducting appropriate pre-employment checks.

Having a well-planned employment screening framework in action, complete with probity checks, can deliver benefits by:

  • Decreasing reputational risk and improving hiring quality;
  • Minimising risks associated with certain positions;
  • Reducing the threat of financial loss to your business.

However, besides conducting the screening checks mandated by law, you must have a risk assessment to determine the appropriate checks.

Employment screening is best approached with a strategic framework. Essentially, it’s a prudent business process. The benefits of having a strategic, consistent risk management approach significantly outweigh the investment.

Organisations need to be clear about why they need employment screening, what and when it is required, how the personal information will be collected and securely stored. It’s also necessary to disclose who will conduct the checks and the next steps in the hiring process.

The department needs to have a clear understanding of why it needs employment screening, what it includes, how the information will be gathered, and how it will be backed up securely. It’s also necessary to disclose who will conduct the checks and the next steps in the hiring process.

To determine the appropriate checks, you need to conduct a risk assessment in addition to performing the screenings mandated by law.

Employment screening is best approached with a strategic framework. Essentially, it’s a prudent business process. The benefits of a strategic, consistent risk management approach far outweigh the costs.

Organisations should be clear about why they need employment screening, what and when it is required, and how personal information will be collected and securely stored. It’s important to disclose who will conduct the background checks and the next steps in the hiring process based on the screening results.

Meet Community Expectations with Accurate Background

Contact our specialists today.

At Accurate Australia, we believe that the local council and state government sector can improve hiring quality and safeguard against application fraud by introducing employment screening services.

With accurate and unbiased information about a candidate’s background and credibility, employment history verifications by Accurate Australia help you make smarter hiring decisions. Our mission is to support education and training organisations like you in building a trusted workforce.

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