Collaborative post

Is It Okay to Ask New Employees for a Police Check Certificate in Australia?


Know the boundaries

Under the right circumstances, firms can ask potential employees for a police check certificate. While such national police clearance is legal in Australia, it is illegal and not okay if human rights are violated in the process. Understandably, a hiring manager might have a few reasons to perform a police check.

Concerns about frauds, theft, security, past offences, and much more might prompt human resource professionals to ask a new employee for such a certificate. More often than not, consent is needed to carry out this check.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

National police clearance in Australia

A police check is a summary of an individual’s history with the law in Australia. Thus, it is done for both residents and citizens who need employment or licensing in their professions. The police check might be a criminal record, judicial issues, or for a vulnerable sector check.

Some industries require police checks more than others. For instance, areas such as Community Services and Development, Financial sector, Healthcare and medical, Government and defence are the most common services where an employer can demand a national police clearance in Australia.

As an employer, you are not allowed to ask about provincial offences or record suspension except where indicated. There are also special rules guiding youth records.

How to ask new employees for a police check

  1. State it clearly in your job post:

You need an Australian police check for certain work spheres. For example, working with vulnerable persons has been linked to some criminal records, and a police check is relevant here. By putting this information out and ahead of time in the recruitment briefs, it makes the situation less awkward if you decide to ask an employee for one.

  1. Gain consent

If you must ask for a police check, the new employee must consent to it in writing before you can proceed. Going behind their backs to conduct one outrightly breaks the rules. More so, job positions and the workplace will play a key role in determining if you need to ask in the first place. Therefore, you should clearly explain the rationale for a police check.

Employee checks should be properly documented in your company’s policy to help potential employees understand your objectives.

  1. Be familiar with employee rights

You should not violate the employee’s right by ignoring any consents.

Also, an employee might decide to reveal a criminal record under the Human Rights Commission, unless a requirement under the law states so. As a professional, you should always seek legal advice before dealing with new employee police checks.

Remember that you might also be violating a new prospect’s privacy by demanding more information than is necessary. Such an employee might be able to launch a complaint against you. Therefore, you should be extremely familiar with your local privacy legislation because it protects employee discrimination.

Online police check in Australia

Obtaining a national police clearance, both for new and old employees have become a norm in Australia. It is one of the proactive ways an organization manages its risks. However, there should be no discrimination, except where relevant as per law.

Getting a police check has become very easy nowadays. Rather than going to an office and having to come back after two weeks, most Australian police checks are now done online. The results are much faster and are ready within a day.

Therefore, one should advocate for online checks more often. Several organizations are accredited with the ACIC to carry such checks out.

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