A national blacklist of retail employees sacked for dishonesty is up and running, and could soon be extended to other sectors, Personnel Today has learnt.
Mike Schuck, chief executive of campaign group Action Against Business Crime (AABC), said there was huge demand from employers for the National Staff Dismissal Register.
“Not only have we been talking to other sectors -including road haulage, contract hire, and other hire companies – we have also had enquiries from hotel groups, pharmaceutical groups and others,” he said.
“There are a wide range of business sectors that for some time have wanted to be able to validate the previous status of an employee, but haven’t had the ability to do it,” he added.
“As the database becomes more established, other employer groups will take advantage of the opportunity to become members.”
The register allows employers to share and access details of staff members who have been dismissed or have left employment while under investigation for dishonest actions. These include theft, fraud, forgery, falsifying documents and causing damage to company property.
An employee need not have a criminal conviction or criminal record for their details to be added to the database, but there is a lengthy process for employers to first join the registry, and then to add staff to it following failed dispute resolutions.
Several retailers have confirmed their participation in the site, including Harrods, Selfridges, and outsourcing agency Reed Managed Services.
Steve Bailey, director of screening at Reed, believes the register will be useful for employees and employers.
“If you’re an employee, it’s comforting to know that a person who’s just been sacked from their last job for serious dishonesty is not concealing their past before joining your team,” he said. “For employers, the register tackles current fears that job applicants are managing to conceal their past conduct.”
However, two companies previously rumoured to have joined the register, Mothercare and HMV, have since distanced themselves from the controversial database, with Mothercare insisting it “is not in any way associated with the project”.
The Home Office has also dissociated itself from the register. Having entered into a joint venture with the British Retail Consortium in 2004 “to set up and maintain business crime reduction partnerships”, the Home Office provided almost £1m in funding over the next three years to set up the AABC, before cutting financial ties in 2007.
Schuck said the Home Office retained some influence on the group, and that the government would benefit from the register.
“Quite clearly the implications for national security in relation to something like the Olympics may make the register attractive for checking people who are engaged in building contracts, catering, and other support services for the Games,” he said.
A Home Office spokesman confirmed said that “as long as [the National Staff Dismissal Register] is compliant with the law, we’re happy with it”.
Trade unions are not so sure of the benefits.
“To blacklist those individuals where there has been insufficient evidence to prosecute is grossly unfair,” said John Hannett, Usdaw general secretary.
“We will be raising our concerns with government and supporting any of our members who are victimised in this way.”
GMB general secretary, Paul Kenny, added: “There will be an enormous kick-back against this and the GMB will lead the charge.”
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said employers should be able to share information about employees who have caused them damage, but warned that the system must not punish those not proven to have done wrong.
Schuck insisted the innocent had nothing to fear.
“We want employee rights to be maintained,” he said. “The only names going on the list will be people who have been shown to be dishonest in a properly structured way, be it by surveillance or through scanning company accounts.
“The company that places the information on the database will then be obliged to release any information to the applicant upon request, giving the applicant the opportunity to challenge any data that is inaccurate, and have it removed or altered.”