University Enhanced Level Screening (UELS) - includes external agency checks

All appointments to the University are subject to the standard compulsory pre-employment checks. Certain posts are particularly sensitive and these basic checks may need to be supplemented by checks through the DBS, Disclosure Scotland, or other agencies and some posts require a Research Passport to be obtained.

In cases where there may be a particular security risk, the OUSS Vetting and Screening team can advise on customised enhanced screening services, using external specialist agencies.

Services include:

  • identity verification;
  • basic background checks;
  • employment, education and background checks to verify and audit a person’s CV (including online searches).

NB In all cases right to work checks must be carried out by the Department in compliance with the Personnel Services guidance found here.

All pre-employment checks must be recorded on CoreHR: REC03 Manage Online Applications (558kb).

Disclosure Scotland

Disclosure Scotland checks basic information that may be held at national (UK) level about any unspent convictions held on the central police records. Disclosure Scotland checks can be carried out for certain positions, which do not meet the eligibility criteria for the enhanced DBS check. This type of check takes approximately two to four weeks to complete and should be carried out vie the OUSS Vetting Team. Initial applications are generally managed by the departmental coordinator in the same way as DBS applications.

University Enhanced Level Screening (includes other external agency checks)

In cases where there is a particular security risk (please refer to the PDF summary document for examples), the OUSS Vetting Team can advise on customised enhanced screening services, using Horus, a specialist external provider.

Services include:

  • identity verification;
  • basic background checks;
  • employment, education and background checks to verify and audit a person’s CV (including online searches). (NB This type of check will only apply in very limited circumstances, and normally for posts of significant status).

Credit checks

Departments considering credit/financial background checks should first seek advice from their HR Business Partner (HRBP) about whether such checks would be appropriate or proportionate.

Credit checks are only appropriate in very limited cases, for example, for posts of significant financial responsibility, eg head or director of Finance. Such checks provide an insight into whether the individual has been the subject of any County Court Judgements (CCJs), or any other adverse finding, especially in relation to investment, financial business misconduct or fraud (eg money laundering).

It is unlikely therefore to provide meaningful information about the likelihood that an individual will pose a risk in a work environment in most cases and may constitute an unreasonable intrusion into an individual’s personal circumstances. For example, poor credit rating may be due to factors such as sickness, unpaid career breaks for caring reasons, or other external factors, none of which give any indication of an individual’s trustworthiness or suitability for employment and may risk discrimination against groups who are more likely to have taken sickness or caring breaks.

A greater degree of judgement needs to be applied with credit reference checks than with other pre-employment screening. Where credit checks are carried out, the findings of all other pre-employment checks should also be considered when deciding on the suitability of the individual for the post. Adverse findings should be discussed with your HRBP before deciding how to proceed further.

Individuals who have previously been known by another name

Screening through external agencies requires individuals to disclose all names by which they have been known. Some applicants may have concerns about this, for example transgendered applicants who do not wish to disclose their change of gender.

If an applicant expresses any concern about completing their application through the normal departmental channels, they should be referred in confidence to the OUSS Vetting and Screening team who will explain to them how a confidential application may be made. 

NB departments should not explore the reasons that an individual wishes to make a confidential application.

The DBS website also has guidance for transgendered applicants concerning a confidential checking service.

Overseas applicants and UK applicants who lived abroad

Please contact the OUSS Vetting and Screening team when checks need to be carried out for overseas applicants. Please note that processing overseas criminal record checks can be time consuming, and so whenever possible, please give the OUSS Vetting and Screening team as much notice as possible to avoid unnecessary delays to the recruitment process.

Agencies such as the DBS do not have access to overseas criminal records or other relevant information. However, applicants from overseas can be asked to get a criminal record check or a ‘Certificate of Good Character’ from their country of origin. It may also be possible to get such a check through the relevant embassy in the UK, but permission from the candidate concerned must be sought first.

Procedures for obtaining a criminal record check from overseas vary from country to country. Click here for a further guidance.

Further information

Queries about the application of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act should be directed to your HRBP. If you require further information about the security screening services, please contact the OUSS Vetting and Screening team.