Why are you asking me to provide more documents?
Filling in your application form is just the beginning.
Lots of applicants are naturally curious when we contact them asking them to supply alternative or additional documents after they have submitted their application. It’s understandable because they might have thought they had already provided everything we need to carry out the screening when they filled out their application form at the start.
But this is not always the case.
Invalid, illegible and insufficient documents
Sometimes the applicant hasn’t provided the right kind of document, a valid document or enough documents.
We are legally obliged to ask for documents to support the information in the application and the British Standard will only accept documents if they’re valid (e.g. in date) and on its official list. This is why we can’t ask for character references any more or use references on someone’s LinkedIn profile.
If the documents the applicant provided aren’t legible or are out of date or are missing their name, address and date of birth for instance, then they’ll need to provide them again with that information, or provide an alternative document, as long as it’s on the official list.
Conflicting information and complex employment history
Similarly, if the information in the applicant’s documents conflicts with the information in their application, we are legally obliged to contact the applicant to ask them to clarify and provide more documents if necessary.
The number of times we need to contact an applicant can vary depending on how complex and long their work history is. The more jobs they’ve had, the more references and documents we’ll need to request.
We understand this can be frustrating sometimes for applicants, especially if they thought they’d provided everything at the start, but we are ultimately trying to make sure we abide by the Standard and the law and complete the screening for their benefit – so they can be employed.
Sometimes Applicants have not provided the right type of document or a “valid” document even if they thought they had in their original application e.g. their passport might indeed be genuine, but it might be a year out of date. The same situation can arise with driving licences too.
Also, sometimes an applicant may have used the same document as proof of their identity and proof of their address, but this is not acceptable according to the standards we are vetting them to. An applicant must supply two different documents: one to prove their identity and a different one to prove their address.
The British Standards we must adhere to have strict guidelines about which documents we’re allowed to accept as proof of identity, address and career history. So even if an applicant has been diligent and supplied us with genuine documents, we still might not be able to accept them if they are not on the British Standard’s approved list. We have no say in this matter. We can only ask and accept what the Standard permits.
Providing Additional Documents
At multiple points throughout the background screening process, we might also need to ask an applicant for additional or alternative documents e.g. to cover a career gap. Perhaps they were unemployed, went travelling or were on a sabbatical for instance. The gap itself is not grounds for suspicion or an indicator of a lack of suitability for a role. But we are still obliged to ask for documents that evidence what the applicant was doing and where they were during a gap period.
- We have to request these documents to comply with the British Standard.
When we ask applicants for these extra documents, we do appreciate that it can sometimes seem that there is some cause for concern, or question mark about their integrity, but this is not the case. We are always and only ever trying to meet the requirements of the Standard as best we can so that we can complete the screening for them as quickly as possible.
- We are obliged by the Standard to ask for a certain quantity and certain types of documents.
Applicants are understandably cautious about sharing their personal documents with us. They are personal after all. We understand this and appreciate how intrusive this can be. If an Applicant decides to provide a bank statement covering a period of career history e.g. where they weren’t employed, they can always redact their account number, sort number and total balance.
We only need to see their name, address, date and the list of payments made from an employer (or not if it’s a period of unemployment) for the period in question.
- Photos or screenshots of an online bank statement are not acceptable.
The Applicant’s Choice
It is always the applicant’s choice whether or not to supply us with alternative or additional documents. Similarly, previous employers or other referees are not legally obliged to provide a reference or any other type of confirmation of identity or address.
All we can do is ask them to supply or confirm the information in question. If it isn’t supplied or confirmed, we make a note and continue with the rest of the screening as best we can. We then inform the applicant’s sponsor how far we’ve got and they then make a decision about what to do next.
- If there is a lack of evidence, the applicant is unlikely to meet the full requirements to pass the screening.
Judgments about Suitability
We never make any judgements about an applicant’s suitability for a role based on the information we receive, that responsibility always rests with the applicant’s sponsor. Our role is strictly to ask for information and documents and verify the information on them e.g. checking that they are valid and acceptable and cross-referencing the information with external data sets.
Our Team’s Screening
It might reassure applicants to know that everyone in our team is screened to BS7858. We have all undergone this security screening and provided the necessary documents and personal information to meet this standard. We therefore empathise with applicants and can appreciate how they might feel in response to being asked to provide personal information and documents.
Acceptable Documents for Proof of ID and Address
We’ve put together a list of all the different types of documents applicants can use to prove their identity and address. These are the only ones we can accept. They cannot use the same document as proof of identity and address. They have to use two different documents.
They can take a photo of them on their phone and upload them to their application and these will be accepted as long as they are valid and clear – if we can’t see the detail, we can’t accept them.
If an applicant is not sure about the validity of their documents, or which ones to use as part of their application, they can always email email@example.com and we will help.
- Applicants should NEVER email copies of documents to us – that puts their data at serious risk – only upload them to an application.
We hope that helps clarify our role and why we ask for documents at various points throughout the screening process.