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How to Conduct Background Checks in Australia: A Comprehensive Guide

Australia has one of the most resilient and stable economies, with an average annual growth of 3% for three consecutive decades. It has an estimated nominal GDP of USD 1.3 trillion, which accounts for nearly 17% of the global economy. Moreover, its proximity to the high-growth markets of the Asia Pacific region, coupled with its political stability and educated workforce, makes it favorable for foreign investments.

If you plan on expanding your business or investing in Australia, make sure you are up to date with the labor laws and employment regulations. This article will tell you all about the employment background check in Australia.

What is an Employment Background Verification?

A comprehensive employee background screening in Australia involves the HR department or a third party running a check on potential recruit’s financial, criminal, past employment records, and social media activities.

It helps the employer check whether the individuals are trustworthy and if the individuals have a behavioral history that can affect their business reputation.

To summarize, a pre-employment background check in Australia helps businesses to:

  • Check for the authenticity of all the submitted employee documents and resume
  • Protect the company from liability issues and safeguard company assets
  • Enhance the quality of the recruitment process 
  • Preventing the possibility of hiring risky candidates
  • Maintain a safe and secure work environment for all employees

Benefits of Background Checks in Australia

Conducting background checks for employees in Australia offers several advantages for recruiters.

  • Improve the quality of your hiring process by employing candidates with glowering qualifications and experiences
  • Checking police and criminal records will help you weed out candidates with serious offense charges, making your workplace safe
  • A comprehensive screening process will save you from hiring negligent applicants who do not have the required qualifications enhancing the competitiveness of your company
  • You can protect your company from liabilities and future lawsuits
  • Pre-employment background checks on prospective hires will drastically reduce your rate of unwelcome turnover
  • It will help you evaluate employees’ trustworthiness and work ethics before giving them positions of importance

Every corporation conducts a pre-employment screening process as a part of its recruitment procedure. Hiring fresh faces can be looked upon as a long-term investment. Therefore, a well-designed employee background screening in Australia will lessen your cost-per-hire and help you get positive outcomes.

Background check laws in Australia grant employers to establish a candidate’s capacity to fulfill the role. 

However, Working with Children Check (WWCC) and police records are compulsory before hiring new employees. Australian labor laws and federal legislature specify circumstances in which employers must overlook convictions. In addition, some roles in specific organizations mandate explicit security clearances.

It is vital to get the candidates’ consent before conducting background checks in Australia and ensure the complete safety of private information.

Things to Know When Performing a Background Check in Australia

Producing fraudulent documents, lying in resumes, or cases of impersonation are common problems recruiters face while hiring. Thus, recruiters must check the authenticity of the furnished documents, run mandatory identification checks, and be vigilant regarding the entire recruitment process. Employee background screening in Australia is a common practice in the corporate sector. 

The pre-employment background check in Australia is a meticulous process where the recruiters go through all the records of their fresh recruits minutely. It aids in eliminating imposters, those with past criminal records, dubious employment records, and fraudulent documents. The employee screening in Australia involves affirming and checking the following databases and sources:

Employment history or reference check

Checking past employment records and running reference checks constitute a vital part of the employee background screening in Australia. The hiring corporates run reference checks to confirm whether the applicants have provided authentic employment records in their resumes and job interviews. Reference checks consist of the HR department contacting the past companies of the applicants to confirm the salaries, job titles, the reason for resignation, integrity, and work ethics. 
It helps the potential employers assess whether a candidate will be suitable to work in the designated position, the amount of pressure they can handle, their trustworthiness, and work ethics.

Criminal Record

As an employer, you can seek help from the local police station or national accredited agencies, which will furnish you with all the countrywide criminal history checks of any potential recruitment. A criminal background check in Australia is vital to ensure that you do not hire employees with serious criminal offenses to their names. 
It is mandatory, primarily if you are recruiting for the educational sector. In that case, you must also run a Working with Children Check (WWCC) to see whether the applicant is eligible to work with children, as implemented by the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012. An Australian Police Check will reveal all the criminal offenses (if any), conviction details, and other charges to an individual’s name, irrespective of the state or territory the crime has been committed. 
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and the relevant police authorities collaborate to set up a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check (NCCHC). This will simplify the criminal background check in Australia for employers and hasten the whole process of employee screening in Australia. 

Credit check

Some Australian companies run a credit check on all their potential hirings to confirm personal information and the financial status of the employees. It is a mandatory verification process if the applicant is applying for a job in the finance sector, such as banking or accountancy. 
A credit check reveals the debt situation, loan and mortgage details, the consumer credit history, and an individual’s credit score. It also states whether there are any credit infringements on their part. Going through the candidate’s financial record helps the employer assess how they manage their finances, work ethics, etc. 

VEVO Check 

Visa Entitlement Verification Online system (VEVO) allows employers to check the current details and conditions of the visa of any potential foreign recruit. A VEVO check reveals the type of visa the applicant has, expiry date, the tenure of stay, and the different rules and regulations they need to follow per state and federal legislature. Employers cannot run a VEVO check for citizens as they have unlimited rights to work in Australia. 

Education history 

One of the most significant aspects of employee screening in Australia is verifying an applicant’s educational qualification. Employers must run this to ensure that all the qualification details furnished by the job seekers in their resumes are authenticated and the vocation training courses they claim to have completed. In addition, it will help employers to check whether any document has been falsified or if any candidates have made fraudulent claims. 
Employers can also verify licenses and certificates in fields whether specific qualifications have to be met to ensure safety. An education history check in Australia will help corporations recruit competent contenders and diminish the perils of employing candidates with fraudulent educational credentials.

Medical Screening

Australia background check law forbids employers to compel candidates to undergo a medical screening as a part of the recruitment procedure. However, employers in Queensland can request applicants to furnish necessary medical details to confirm they are fit to be hired for the designated process and do not have any pre-existing medical condition or injury. Also, once hired, employers can run medical checks on the employees as long as it follows the labor laws and under reasonable circumstances. 

Social media activities

It is becoming increasingly pertinent for employers to run social media checks on their potential recruits to assess the social media behavior of the applicants. Checking the social media activities of your prospective employees will reveal their behavior on social media, the groups, pages, and forums they frequent on Facebook or LinkedIn, the type of discussions they participate in, and their maturity and temperament to conduct themselves online. 
While it is a significant component of the employee background screening in Australia, you must ensure that you have not breached their privacy or broken any state or federal law.

Information Essential for a Background Check in Australia

A pre-employment background check in Australia is essential for all corporates before recruiting potential candidates. It helps employers assess prospective employees’ character, ethics, and integrity by looking up their educational qualifications, past employment records, criminal records, finances, and social media activities. 

Since presenting fraudulent documents and making fake claims in resumes is common for many individuals, this is crucial for all recruiters to run necessary checks before hiring. In addition, a screening process will help employers eliminate all those who have presented fake documents, made false claims regarding qualifications, fabricated fluff in their resumes, or employed other dishonest means. 

Employers must comply with state laws while asking for applicants to furnish documents to conduct an employment background check in Australia. You can also contact educational institutions, nationally accredited agencies, and police authorities to run background checks. 

However, as a potential employer, here is a general list of documents you can ask your prospective employees to produce:

  • Full name as written in official documents
  • Permanent and temporary addresses
  • Date of birth as written in official documents
  • Relevant degrees, mark sheets, certificates of educational qualification 
  • Finance documents such as debts, loans, mortgages, payment defaults (if any)
  • Australian citizenship certificate
  • Visa details (in case of non-native applicants)
  • Employment references from past and present employers (including payslips, offer letter(s), and letters of recommendation)
  • Statutory declaration of ongoing criminal proceedings or past criminal convictions (if any)
  • A clear photograph of the applicant

Process Involved in Background Checks

The employment background check in Australia is a regular norm that corporates can carry out according to the state labor laws and federal regulations. However, the rules and the verifying process may vary according to the nature of the industry and as deemed by the HR department of certain organizations. An overall view of the process of company background check in Australia has been listed below:

Get consent from the applicant: While a pre-employment screening process may be a common practice, it is still essential for employers to let the candidate know beforehand. If possible, get written consent from the candidate to save yourself from future lawsuits.  

Determine the details you need to gather: The second step is determining the details you may need to seek to assess the candidate’s competency. Set definite policies regarding the screening process for your HR department to follow while gathering relevant information. Some of the primary documents and information you need to collect are:

  • Educational qualifications
  • Past employment history
  • Criminal records 
  • Citizenship certificate (for natural residents)
  • Working with Children Check (WWCC)
  • Finance details and credit reports
  • Social media activities 
  • Visa details (for non-native candidates)

Collect the relevant documents/information: After gathering the required documents and information, you must contact the appropriate authorities and nationally accredited agencies. Going through proper channels may seem tedious but is mandatory. Seek help from government agencies such as the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA). 

Perform the background check: After gathering all the relevant documents and information, you must cross-check and authenticate all the details. For instance, contact the past employers to validate the submitted reference checks and salary slips, while the authorities of the relevant educational institutions will help you verify the academic credentials. Get in contact with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) or the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) to verify financial and criminal records. You can search on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other such sites to check the social media presence of your prospective employees. Finally, contact the Australian Department of Home Affairs or the Immigration Department to review the candidates’ permanent residency details or Visa information. 

Industries and Situations That are Most Suitable for Background Checks in Australia

It is imperative to conduct an employee background screening in Australia of recruits irrespective of the industry or sector they have been recruited for. While some organizations can afford a less strict background checking policy, industries and sectors like finance, banking, education, and transport need to be vigilant while hiring new people. For instance, verifying financial records and credit reports is vital if you are hiring for the finance sector, while checking driving records and verifying a driving license is mandatory for recruiting in the transport industry. 

In Australia, the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 mandates the Working with Children Check (WWCC) for all employees hired to work or volunteer with children. A list of industries and professions that could benefit from an employment background search in Australia has been provided below. It is crucial to mention that this list is not exhaustive, and all employers are advised to run background checks before hiring new candidates. 

  • Healthcare
  • Educational institutions 
  • Finance sector
  • Government services
  • Legal firms
  • Manufacturing industry
  • Transportation
  • Energy and utilities
  • Construction firms
  • All occupations requiring to take care of or volunteer with children
  • All professions that provide care to the disabled, seniors, and children
  • Recruiting candidates who are non-native of Australia

How Does Multiplier help With Background Checks?

Setting up a new business can pose quite a challenge in a new country. Multiplier can be your one-stop solution for all such challenges. Our in-house legal experts will help you create a comprehensive employee benefits package, experience a smoother employee onboarding, and more while you aim to hire internationally.

Frequently Asked Questions

Usually, employers complete an employee’s background search in Australia within 3-7 days. However, some may take longer, depending on the nature of the organization and the outcome of the verifying process.

There can be several reasons behind a failed background check in Australia, such as discrepancies in your resume and educational qualification, criminal offenses, poor credit score, fraudulent past employer references.

According to the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012, all employers must run a Working with Children Check (WWCC) of employees hired to work, volunteer, or take care of children.

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