People applying for jobs with the Department for Transport can expect their social media posts to be reviewed as part of pre-employment checks introduced this month.
The DfT signed an agreement late last month with Capita to carry out social media checks on all new hires within the department, as well as with independent bodies: the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency; the Drivers and Vehicles Standards Agency; the Maritime and Coastguard Agency; and the Vehicle Certification Agency.
The service “will compliment [sic] existing pre-employment check”, according to the contractual documents.
Information posted on the DfT careers website says staff will be required to pass a Basic Staff Security Standard check – a standard check for all government employees that covers identity verification; Nationality and immigration status; employment history; and criminal record. Some jobs may also be subject to national security screening, it says.
Other potential pre-employment checks listed on the careers site include counter-terrorism, screening, security screening, and expanded screening. Social media screening is not listed.
Capita will provide a report highlighting “potential risk areas” in the social media feeds of potential civil servants, which the recruitment team and the DfT recruitment manager will use to determine whether to offer employment to the person.
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 standard in recruitment practice in the UK and will ensure that all new recruits act in accordance with the civil service code.
Government Communications Service guidelines stress that serving officials must abide by the Civil Service Code when using personal or professional social media accounts, check what they post for “accuracy and sensitivity” and “remember that once something is posted online, it’s very difficult to take it down.