Is BPSS suitable for private sector companies?

The Baseline Personnel Security Standard or BPSS is the government standard background check for civil servants, armed forces and contractors.

As such you may well feel that it has little of relevance for the private sector but you may be surprised at how useful and relevant it really is.

What is a BPSS?

The BPSS is one of four personnel security standards for government employees. The others are Security Check (SC), Developed Vetting (DV) and Counter-Terrorist Check (CTC).

There are four major themes in a BPSS;

  • Nationality and Immigration status
  • Employment history
  • Identity verification
  • Unspent criminal conviction records

These four themes are designed to make sure that the person is who they say they are and that they have the right to work in the UK.

Applying the BPSS check to the private sector makes sense as it gives a structure to the employment verification process and confidence that it is working correctly.

Although it sounds like more red-tape you are probably already in one way or another covering many of the elements of a BPSS .

Nationality and Immigration status

This is a pretty standard check that every employer has to carry out.

For all employees, the HR department has to verify that they have checked the employees right to work in the country.

For EU nationals, at the moment this is automatic, for people from so-called ‘third countries’ other evidence is required such as a leave to remain or passport vignette.

There’s actually quite a lot of potentially acceptable documents and understanding what is correct can be fairly confusing. You can find a list of acceptable documents here [link]

For BPSS the check is exactly the same and naturally, results need to be effectively recorded and stored.

Employment history

No employer worth their salt won’t check at least the last work reference and with BPSS the system is again pretty much the same.

Where an employer has the leeway to decide how many references they check, under BPSS the work references for the last 3 years MUST be checked.

The check also needs to be more thorough than simply sending a standard form to an employer and hoping for a reply.

The best option is to actually speak with the referee to ensure that they actually exist and to get more depth about the applicant.

Work gaps of more than six months need to be addressed and either documentary evidence provided or reasonable explanations.

Identity verification

Knowing that a person has the right to work and that they have a great work history is all well and good but what if the person sitting in front of you isn’t the person they pretend to be?

Identity verification is an important part of BPSS and frankly, we can’t understand why any employer wouldn’t want to do this.

Photographic identity documents such as a passport or driving licence are useful but you do need to beware of the problems of forgery

Unspent criminal conviction records

Most employers will again, do this as a matter of course for some employees.

Typically people who are going to work in finance, as executive directors or with children and vulnerable adults will be checked.

Under BPSS this will need to be extended to all employees.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t take on someone with a criminal record, it simply means that you need to know.

You  might not have a choice

Some private companies will have to apply BPSS whether they like it or not.

List X contractors are companies operating in the UK who are working on UK government contracts which require them to hold classified information and they need to check all of their employees.

Other contractors that supply staff to or work in government departments will also need to comply so if your company is thinking of bidding for government contracts then you are probably best to get the compliance side sorted out now.

Overall, you’ll need to provide evidence that you have carried out all of these checks and record the results.

If compliance gets audited in the future then not having effective records is essentially the same as not doing the checks in the first place.

Let Checkback Internationals Vetting Solutions Centre take the strain

This might all seem like a bit of a workup. After all, who has the time to speak to every referee for the last three years of every person you employ?

Checkback Internationals Vetting Solutions CentreCentre is set up to help employers like you.

Our BPSS and background checking service will run the process for you and give you full transparency over where your applicants are and what the results say.

It’s a surprisingly inexpensive service, especially when you work out just how many hours you’ll need to spend making sure your employees are properly vetted.

Get in touch now and we can talk over how we can help.