Dismissal register will not hide recruitment failings

While the National Staff Dismissal Register (‘Database of dishonesty’, Personnel Today, 20 May) may sound like a fantastic idea for employers who, in an increasingly cautious world of bland, insipid and non-committal references, have little by way of opportunity to fully check out an employee before they take them on, there does need to be a practical balance drawn when considering the potential benefits of such a scheme.

Some benefits cited for businesses include cost and time savings through reduced losses (from dishonest staff) and more efficient recruitment process respectively. It has also been suggested that the register will act as a deterrent for existing staff and help improve the perceived quality of the working environment.

However, there are naturally some concerns about its use. Companies could use this database to blacklist workers they believe are leaving the company for a competitor in order to stop them being employed by rivals. The worker may not even know about the allegation or the concern – for example, they could be one of 10 people in a warehouse where something goes missing and that may be enough for them to get put on the database and become almost unemployable.

People may effectively become shut out of the job market by a former employer who falsely accuses them of misconduct or sacks them because they bear a grudge. Individuals would be treated as criminals even though the police had never been contacted, and they may never have been notified even of suspicions by their former employer.

This database system could certainly be helpful to a business as it may get lucky and not hire someone who could be potentially be a problem, but if someone gets put on there unfairly then firms could miss out on some really talented people.

Naturally businesses are going to be keen on this register, but there is still much to be said for rigorous recruitment processes and sensible judgements.

Nick Shepphard, employment partner, Langleys

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