Everyone knows that when you hire an employee, it’s a good idea to check their references. This is a critical part of your due diligence as an employer. You need to make sure that the person has the work experience and qualifications that they say they do.
Research has shown that up to 53% of resumes and job applications form contain false information! Candidates are guilty of everything from inflating job titles to listing ghost companies on their resume. Checking references is one of the easiest ways to uncover these falsehoods. It will give you more information to base your hiring decision on so you can make an informed choice.
Some small business owners feel comfortable checking references on their own, and that is great! It is a fairly straightforward process. If you don’t feel comfortable phoning up your candidate’s references yourself, or if you just don’t have the time, you can hire a third-party to do it for you. Okanagan Small Business Services offers three types of reference check services which you can read about here.
This article is for DIY entrepreneurs in BC who want to conduct reference checks themselves. In this article, we are going to discuss some legal requirements to be aware of before you start making phone calls, potential roadblocks and how to bypass them, and 6 essential tips for conducting reference checks yourself.
In BC, there are two main statutes that influence the reference check process: the BC Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) and the BC Human Rights Code.
The BC Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) requires that employers notify their candidates about the sources they intend to use as references. To comply with this requirement, you must obtain your candidate’s written consent before contacting their references.
The BC Human Rights Code protects all British Columbians from discrimination on a number of protected grounds (such as age, sex, marital status, etc.). This protection extends into the reference check process. To comply with this statute, you must ensure that your questions are job-related and non-discriminatory.
It has become commonplace for employers (particularly larger companies) to adopt “no reference” policies. Why? Because if an employer makes negative statements about an ex-employee (whether they are true or not), it can come back to bite them. If an ex-employee believes that their previous employer made statements that prevented them from obtaining new employment, they can sue the employer or file a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal.
If an employer tells you they have a no reference policy, don’t give up. They may still be willing to provide you with some basic information, or what we refer to as an employment verification check. Unlike a reference check, an employment verification check sticks to the facts. It doesn’t ask subjective questions that may be perceived as discriminatory; it only asks objective questions that have one correct answer.
The primary objective of an employment verification check is to verify that your candidate has the work experience they say they do. It asks the following three questions:
Although an employment verification check will not give you insights into your candidate’s work ethic or job performance, it will allow you to determine whether the person has the work experience they claim to have or not.
6 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR REFERENCE CHECKS
Now that we have discussed the legal requirements to be aware of and how to circumvent potential roadblocks, we will get down to the nitty gritty! Here are 6 essential tips for DIY employers who want to conduct reference checks themselves:
Well there you have it… everything you need to know before conducting your own reference checks. We are confident that you will do a great job! And if you decide you need a little professional help, we’re only a phone call away!
Okanagan Small Business Services Inc.
Phone: (778) 738-0338
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Danielle Harshenin, BBA, leads the HR department at Okanagan Small Business Services. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge with small business owners.