The HR issues being experienced by the South African Police Service (SAPS)
currently, namely cops having criminal records and/or pending cases, aren?t an
isolated or unique occurrence, says Ina van der Merwe, the Chief Executive of
Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE).
"In fact, I challenge any equally large employer to undergo similar scrutiny and
According to MIE?s latest Background Screening Index, 16% of all prospective
employees indicate risk in terms of criminal records. While the incidence of criminal
records among SAPS? employees is less than 1% of the total force (i.e. 157 518), the
cops with criminal records and the case of Lieutenant-General Zuma highlight the
importance of background screening before employment and doing rechecks at
regular intervals during employment.
While background screening before employment is fairly commonplace, doing
rechecks at regular intervals during employment lacks the same recognition.
Circumstances change. And since there are very few employees who would have the
courage to take the proverbial bull by the horns by voluntarily coming forward and
disclosing a newly acquired criminal record, turning a blind eye to the possibility is a
high-risk strategy in this day and age, especially when managing the risk is
convenient, cost-effective, easy and quick.
Firstly, employment contracts should be drafted in such a way that they
stipulate rechecks at regular intervals, like quarterly or twice yearly. An "evergreen'
consent form for the duration of employment should also be included.
Secondly, where employees are being considered for promotion, specifically as the
result of furthering their education, rechecks should be done as a matter of course,
regardless of timing. In these instances, employers are urged to validate the
authenticity of the qualification, as well as the validity of the academic institution
Thirdly, the employment contract should outline the consequences of making any
adverse findings. A few practical examples are demotion, redeployment and
suspension pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing.
An employee who has signed a contract of employment including all of the above
principles will have a set of digitally-captured fingerprints that can be automatically
processed at the agreed pre-determined times by a background screening company,
like MIE. This will be done via Afiswitch, which is the online interface that links the
employee?s demographics and fingerprints with the SAPS system.
(Presently, Afiswitch processes up to 6 000 criminal record checks daily.) A
report, confirming the presence of risk or no risk, will be provided in less than 48
hours. Where risk is flagged, a request for further information will reveal the
specifics, like conviction, incarceration or pending case, enabling the employer to
make an informed decision regarding the best way forward.
"Transparency is key to building employer/employee relationships that don?t hide
any nasty surprises down the line. However, keeping a clean house is an ongoing
challenge that can be proactively managed by HR leaders who are committed to
developing progressive policies and procedures that embrace doing rechecks at
regular intervals during employment,' adds van der Merwe.
As Africa?s leading background screening company, MIE processes approximately
10 000 checks a day. The five most popular are criminal records, drivers? licences and
qualifications (secondary and tertiary), as well as credit histories and references.
The capability of being able to initiate checks online is convenient, cost-effective,
easy and quick.