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Why are more companies in T&T performing background checks on their new hires?

Published: September 19, 2021

In an effort to combat the devastating effects of the Covid-19 virus, the government of Trinidad and Tobago instituted nationwide lockdowns in both 2020 and 2021. The Pandemic displaced approximately 30% of our country’s working population. Small business closures and cost cutting by larger companies led to a shortage of jobs. The labour pool now is large and professional jobs are harder to land. Employers are receiving hundreds of applications within hours of online posting of vacancies. With a sea of candidates at their disposal many employers have the difficult task of choosing the ‘right’ candidate.

So how does a background check reduce the risk of hiring a 'bad fit'?

A background check can help to weed out unsuitable candidates. Let’s face it, having a great resume, cover letter and interview doesn’t mean that you have the perfect candidate for the job. It may just mean that you’ve landed the person with the best preparation for the interview process.

We’ve heard many complaints by clients of choosing a hire based on the interview alone:

“She was so good in the interview, but after she started where her energy did go?”

“The new employee said she lived in the area but we later found out that she is persistently late because she is travelling from the other side of the country.”

“After the probation period the new employee’s performance dropped drastically.”

“Months after hire we found out that the employee had been involved in a theft at his last company. He was performing adequately but I could not shake the feeling of suspicion especially as he was handling our company funds.”

A background check helps many employers to remove the doubt involved in bringing a new person into their environment. A thorough background check will look at the candidate’s criminal history, work history, credit history and verify important facts such as the academic qualifications.

What Industries are required to conduct Employee Background Checks?

All employers are encouraged to conduct even a basic background check on their employees to safeguard their interests.

However, financial institutions which are entrusted as agents of client’s funds and are at greater risk, are required to perform Due Diligence Checks on new hires and existing employees under the Central Bank’s Guidelines on Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting of Terrorism Financing. The Guidelines provide that:

“ institutions should undertake due diligence on prospective employees and throughout the course of employment. At a minimum, the financial institution should:

i. Verify the applicant’s identity and personal information including employment history and background. Consider credit history checks on a risk-based approach;

ii. Develop a risk-focused approach to determining when pre-employment background screening is considered appropriate or when the level of screening should be increased …. The sensitivity of the position or the access level of an individual employee may warrant additional background screening, which should include verification of references, experience, education and professional qualifications;

iii. Maintain an ongoing approach to screening for specific positions, as circumstances change, or for a comprehensive review of employees over a period of time.

So, if you want to remove that doubt when hiring, a background check is recommended . Based on your company's budgetary allocation you may want to hire a professional Background Check company or perform basic checks on your own. Regardless, it is recommended that based on the nature of your business, sufficient checks are done to ensure that you lower your risk .

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