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Today the most commonly used pre-employment check is a criminal record check. In South Africa the effectiveness of this is questionable due to the very low conviction rates. Despite the fact that I believe we should consider integrity or behavioural assessments rather than a criminal record check we need to understand what to do if a candidate has a criminal record.

It is strongly recommended that your employment application includes questions to understand if the candidate has ever been accused of criminal action and then if they have a criminal record. There could also be a paragraph indicating to the candidate that being honest with these questions does not automatically exclude them from the recruitment process but the company has the right to protect itself. You could also draw attention to the fact that by excluding information during the application process is dangerous and background checks often reveal information that the candidate is trying to hide. I believe that this would encourage more open conversation and people who committed a petty crime when they were young will feel more comfortable disclosing this.


Our labour law says that you cannot exclude a candidate from the employment process unless the issues at hand will be in conflict with the inherent requirements of the job. A simple example is that a candidate with a drunken driving charge cannot be excluded from the position of an accountant as this is not a job specific offence.


There is definitely a change afoot when it comes to the “fear” of employing a criminal. Recruiters need to understand the offence, the age of the individual when the crime was committed and the rehabilitation of the criminal.


Remember that there is a strict process to follow when conducting a criminal record check in South Africa and this must be adhered to.


Criminal Record Checks via Hardcopy Fingerprints (SAP91A Form):

Fingerprints can be taken at any SAPS Station.

This is a service available in South Africa where candidates can visit any SA Police Service Customer Service Centre and get their fingerprints taken on a SAP91A Form.

The form needs to be completed and submitted together with a consent form signed by the candidate and a copy of the candidate’s ID must be sent to iFacts.

The criminal record check will be processed and results submitted within three working days of the receipt of the hardcopy prints.

If the applicant is applying from outside of South Africa they can obtain their fingerprints on the local equivalent of a SAP91A Form.


Criminal Record Check via Biometrically Captured Fingerprints (AFIS):

This check is done to establish if a subject has a criminal record and whether charges have been laid against the subject.

In order to conduct the check, the individual must sign a consent form and must have his/her fingerprints taken on a SAPS approved biometric fingerprint reader (SAGEM MSO300).

Whilst we do not state that a person with a criminal record is unemployable, we do stress that a company needs intelligence to manage their risk.

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