Teenage tantrums, bad bosses and dishonest colleagues = Orwellian unemployment?

Friday, May 9th, 2008 - Employment

What’s the toughest thing about finding your next job?

  • The toughest thing about finding a job is finding the right job – well, yes, but those who have planned their careers never find this difficult. And those who haven’t just have to accept a bit of regression occasionally
  • OK, well the toughest thing about getting the right job is getting past the paper sift process – no, most managed careers know where their next job is; or have the right CV, which 99% of the time get you to interview
  • So the toughest part of getting the job is the interview – no, that’s just prepartion, and if you only did one thing then it would be to read the companies annual report, re-read the advert, and prepare at least five questions (OK, well that’s three things….)
  • Still confused? How about the toughest thing about getting your next job, could be that you fell out with your boss when a difficult teenager; or were suspected of theft after a colleague got away with it; or after a situation in which you did nothing wrong, but after a disciplinary hearing, you concluded to resign?

    Seem’s a bit far fetched in these ambulance-chasing/rights for all days – but could it actually happen?

    In May 2008, the National Staff Dismissal Register (NSDR) is expected to go live, an initiave by national employers organisation Action Against Business Crime. Initially launched in the retail sector as it was founded as a way of tracking staff suspected of acts of unproven “seepage” – other wise known as theft. Initial companies signing up include Harrods, Selfridges and recruiter Reed Managed Services.

    The NSDR will allow subscriber companies to check whether candidates for jobs or existing employees have faced allegations of stealing, forgery, fraud, damaging company property or causing a loss to their employers and suppliers. Workers dismissed or those who have resigned before action was taken over these offences by subscribing companies, or whose details have been added as a result of public record; will be included on the register, regardless of whether police had enough evidence to convict them or not.

    To many, this seems at minimum Orwelian in nature, and probably illegal – it’s a database of shared staff records, with no separating walls, sharing non-convicted issues: legally, most of the database at best will technically be allegations.

    TUC policy officer Hannah Reed says that while criminal activity in the workplace can never be condoned, she fears such a system is open to abuse: “The TUC is seriously concerned that this register can only lead to people being shut out from the job market by an employer who falsely accuses them of misconduct or sacks them because they bear them a grudge. Individuals would be treated as criminals, even though the police have never been contacted. The Criminal Records Bureau was set up to assist employers to make safe appointments when recruiting staff to work with vulnerable groups. The CRB already provides appropriate and properly regulated protection for employers. Under the new register, an employee may not be aware they have been blacklisted or have any right to appeal.”

    James Welch, the legal director of human rights group Liberty, says that he is concerned that the register does not offer sufficient redress to the falsely accused: “This scheme appears to bypass existing laws which protect employees by limiting the circumstances when information about possible criminal activity can be shared with potential employers.”

    How does the NSDR affect you?

  • As an employer: it could be all good news, but – how do you know what is written about an employee is factually correct, and could you not be sued for using information about an applicant from a previous employer they have listed on their CV but not used as a reference: oh yes, you could!
  • As an employee: it could be all bad news – the fact you didn’t see eye to eye with an old boss could now come back and count against you. So, go and check the NSDR list of employers when it is launched, and write to administrator HiCom Business Solutions (of Red House,
Brookwood, Surrey. GU24 0BL), and ask them should any of your ex-employers are listed as users, for a copy of your personal records – under UK Data Protection, you are allowed free access to this information. Once you have your printout, or they have confirmed they have no record of you, simply address each issue – I would recommend if you find anything, take legal advice
  • My bet is that on launch, one of the large unions such as the shop workers union USDAW or an employee rights organization such as Liberty will go after NSDR with a large iron fist, and NSDR will be but as short lived an initiative as it is short sighted. But in the mean time, its worth checking

    Good Luck!

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