DfT hires Capita to screen job applicants’ social-media accounts

Written by Beckie Smith on 9 May 2022 in News
News

Candidates for roles at transport department will be subject to checks of their online posts

Credit: Blogtrepreneur/CC BY 2.0

People applying for a job at the Department for Transport can expect to have their social media posts screened as part of pre-employment checks being introduced this month.

DfT signed a deal at the end of last month with Capita to carry out checks on the social media presences of any new hires at the department, as well as arm’s-length bodies: the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency; the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency; the Maritime and Coastguard Agency; and the Vehicle Certification Agency.

The service will “compliment [sic] existing pre-employment checking”, according to contract documents.

Information published on DfT’s careers website says staff will need to undergo a Baseline Personnel Security Standard check – a standard screening for all government employees that covers verification of identity; nationality and immigration status; employment history; and criminal record. Some jobs may also be subject to National Security Vetting, it says.


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Other potential pre-employment checks listed on the careers site include a counter-terrorism, check, a security check and developed vetting. Social media screening is not listed.

Capita will provide a report highlighting any “potential risk areas” in would-be officials’ social media feeds, which DfT’s recruitment team and hiring manager will use to determine whether to offer the person a job.

The £59,000 contract will run for a year, starting this month.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We are introducing social media background checks to complement our existing pre-employment screening process. These are common in UK recruitment practice and will ensure that all new hires act in accordance with the civil service code.”

Government Communication Service guidance stresses that serving officials must stick to the civil service code while using personal or professional social media accounts, check the “accuracy and sensitivity” of what they are posting and “remember that once something is posted online, it’s very difficult to remove it.”

 

About the author

Beckie Smith is deputy editor for PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World, where a version of this story first appeared. She tweets as @beckie__smith.

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