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Importance of robust background checks highlighted in Uber ban

View profile for Sally Morris
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Earlier this week, a shock ruling effectively banned Uber, the taxi app firm, from operating in London.

Transport for London (TfL) said Uber had failed to, among other things, carry out effective checks of their drivers. These include what’s known as a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, which flags up criminal activity on a potential employee’s record.

There is also a need to provide medical certificates to ensure that workers in certain industries are fit or capable enough to carry out their job safely.

Until recently, Uber used a third-party to process DBS checks for its drivers. However, TfL said earlier this year that it would only accept checks processed through its own contractor, GBGroup – and dismissed other third-party partners.

This meant that some 13,000 Uber drivers would require a new DBS check carried out by GBGroup. It is unknown whether these were carried out at all, or in time with TFL’s strict governance requirements.

A separate investigation, published by The Sun, found that some drivers had been obtaining falsified medical certificates.

Experts say the decision has brought to light the importance of robust background checking procedures.

Sarah Dowzell, COO and co-founder of cloud HR software company Natural HR, said: “It is so important to background check your employees and be clear of their intentions in working for your company.

“Conducting rigorous checks should be taken as a blanket approach across businesses: because it's not just about checking the suitability of employees, it’s about safeguarding other parties involved with the organisation.

“That risk is not just about company reputation, it's about the customers, which in Uber’s case relates to people using the app, but can extend to any other stakeholders or individuals involved with your business. I think ethically this is an issue that should be at the front of HR's mind.”