What is BPSS Clearance?
Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) is the standard level of background check for anyone working within, or on behalf of, a government department.
This security standard was introduced to reduce the risk of organisations hiring illegal workers, prevent identity fraud and protect national security. This standard was established to meet the minimum level of background checks required for:
- Government agency contractors
- Civil servants
- Members of the armed forces
As roles within government departments involve working with potentially sensitive information, organisations conduct pre-employment screening checks, using the BPSS standard as a measuring tool to assess best practices. Additionally, BPSS guidance is widely used in the energy, communications and financial sectors, although it does not replace standards like BS7858 or SMCR (Senior Managers Certification Regime).
Who Needs BPSS Clearance?
Baseline security clearance is a legal requirement for the following people:
- Members of the UK armed forces
- UK civil servants
- Temporary staff within a government organisation
- Government contractors
BPSS also underpins National Security Vetting (NSV) and is a requirement for anyone applying for this level of clearance.
To obtain security clearance an individual is required to complete a BPSS check. An individual, however, cannot apply for a check on themselves. Only an employer can request that BPSS checks be carried out, and an individual can apply thereafter. Similarly to how Standard and Enhanced DBS checks are requested and conducted, there must be an employer request.
Why is BPSS Security Necessary?
BPSS checks are designed to protect government assets and information by confirming the identity of employees applying to work in those departments. Applicants who pass BPSS security checks are deemed trustworthy and eligible to not only work in the UK legally but also handle sensitive government information.
Due to the rising number of people with access to the Public Services Network (PSN) connected networks, as well as government intranets (Wide Area Networks - WAN), BPSS clearance has become vital for recruitment in government services.
What is a BPSS Check?
BPSS checks confirm the identity of an individual, as well as their right to work in the UK. These types of checks are required when organisations secure government contracts, providing a level of assurance to employers, confirming those individuals’ suitability for the job role.
Baseline security clearance is granted to individuals that demonstrate their eligibility, suitability and trustworthiness for handling potentially sensitive information within a government department.
What is Involved in a BPSS Check?
There are 4 elements to a BPSS check and all of which the applicant must pass. Checks are based on a RICE (right to work, identity, criminal record and employment history) framework.
- Right to Work in the UK - determining whether a candidate is eligible to take up employment, as well as their immigration status and nationality.
- Identity check - full identity verification using valid and up-to-date checks, such as driving licenses, passports, visa documents, proof of address etc.
- Criminal record check - BPSS is not the same as a DBS check, but Basic DBS checks are performed as a part of BPSS security clearance.
- Employment history - confirmation of a minimum of three years’ history of the applicant’s employment status.
If candidates have spent a period of 6 months or more overseas, within the last 3 years, this must be declared as well.
Once the required check has been completed, the candidate will be notified if they have received security clearance. If they are successful, they will receive a BPSS security certificate.
How do I get BPSS Clearance?
If you’re wondering, “what information is included in a BPSS check,” or “how do I get BPSS clearance?”, the following checks are included within a standard BPSS security screening.
- Personal ID check - this confirms that the candidate has a valid form of identification and is who they say they are.
- Right to Work - to confirm a person’s eligibility for working in the UK.
- Residential address - which verifies the current address a candidate provides and confirms that they live there.
- Basic DBS check - which divulges any spent or unspent cautions or convictions that an applicant has.
- Employment history - confirms start and end dates of employment, and position held at a company (verified from trusted referees and/or HR officials).
- Employment gap investigation - investigates any substantial gaps between jobs when discussing screening requirements. These can be for periods of 28 days or more.
This level of screening is based on a 4-level RICE framework (right to work, identity, criminal record and employment history).
How Long Does BPSS Take?
Typically, BPSS checks can take approximately 5-10 working days to complete.
Given that it’s fairly non-intrusive and the majority of the time, information is quickly verified from the relevant third parties.
There can be delays in the BPSS application process if people enter their information incorrectly. Or if the third party handling the DBS checks and employment history checks, for example, need to verify conflicting or additional information.
For instance, if the employment history verification shows that the applicant spent longer time abroad than specified in their application, the agency may need to verify this information with the applicant again.
Here at Eurocom CI, we are regularly requested by employers (across many industries) to develop solutions that help them oversee and manage a vast number of security checks. We always recommend to employers and applicants to ensure that every application form can be completed thoroughly in the first instance and that there is no missing information which you will need to obtain after the application has been processed. This just adds delays to the BPSS application.
This is why if you need a BPSS check completed quickly, it’s vital you ensure you have the correct information to hand and go over your application with a fine-toothed comb to ensure it’s 100% correct and accurate.
What Happens After Getting BPSS Clearance?
Verified individuals have their information listed on a BPSS Verification Record, which is stored and retained on their personal file with their new employer. Access to this individual personal file is restricted to a select few people, specifically on a ‘need to know’ basis.
An applicant’s BPSS record is transferable, should an individual move from one company to another. The record can be requested, so the new organisation can verify they are cleared.
That being said, the new company must ensure that the information disclosed on the BPSS check can be secured and restricted. This is a requirement in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
Once a certificate has been issued, there is no expiry date. However, the government does have to re-check the immigration status of non-UK-born employees, every 12 months. This is to ensure they still have the right to work.
How to Apply for a BPSS Check
Specialist background check companies like Eurocom CI can advise organisations on BPSS best practices, and ensure that all organisations are carrying out checks correctly.
We help employers carry out BPSS screening checks quickly and thoroughly, and we offer a transparent and proactive service. We always ensure you’re kept up-to-date, every step of the way.
Using our innovative software, your electronic BPSS screening reports will confirm everything you need to know to make informed decisions promptly and efficiently.
If your organisation is in need of a forward-thinking, proactive agency to help you fulfil your employee screening requirements, get in touch with Eurocom CI. We offer a free software demonstration so you can see how we would work before you commit to anything.