ABA releases background check protocol

The Australian Bankers’ Association has released a new conduct background check protocol in a bid to crack down on individuals with a record of misconduct and have moved from one place of employment to the next undetected.

The ABA released the protocol in a bid to gather more information about a job applicant’s past employment history and conduct record.

ABA chief executive, Anna Bligh said that while banks already conducted police record checks, they might not always find serious types of misconduct.

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“Each bank has extensive, yet different reference checking processes as part of hiring staff; so this will create more consistency in practices and mean anyone who does the wrong thing has nowhere to hide,” she said.

The protocol would require banks to ask a series of fact-based questions about employment history and conduct, including whether someone was terminated or resigned in circumstances relating to misconduct such as selling customer data, compromising customer security or wilfully and repeatedly breaching bank policy.

Bligh said the industry had been working on the protocol for nine months and was part of a broader set of reforms to move away from a banking culture that rewarded employees on the number of products they sold.

Key features of the conduct background check protocol included:


  • Background checks can go back a period of five years and banks who signed up to the protocol must request information as part of their recruitment process as well as respond to request about current and former employees;
  • It would be implemented no later than 1 July by major banks and 1 October by non-major banks, and would cover executives and other employees; and
  • A privacy impact assessment was carried out to ensure the protocols met legal obligations, including how to share and store employee records and seek consent from job applicants to conduct background checks.

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