In today's litigious environment, with increasing pressure from regulators and legislation, employers, clients and agencies are taking more care about checking the backgrounds not only of potential employees but also of freelance contractors and consultants.

Organisations can be held liable for their workers' actions and now owe a greater duty of care to check their backgrounds. Background checking demonstrates due diligence and helps organisations to protect themselves by knowing as much as possible about the people they invite into the workplace.

For freelance contractors, the vetting process can delay starting on a new project or assignment.

The PCG has joined forces with specialist firm to overcome this obstacle by offering a scheme that provides candidates with a rolling three-year 'passport' confirming their bona fides.

The new background checking scheme, called PCG (QP) - for 'Quality People' - allows members to have their qualifications, work experience and references independently verified to BS7858 standard.

The checking process covers:

  • Basic personal and financial check - electoral roll, county court judgements (CCJs), bankruptcy check
  • Highest educational qualification
  • Further technical or professional qualification or membership
  • Full ten-year continuous history to include date of leaving continuous education, verification of employment dates, employment gaps and basic criminal records check (unspent convictions).

'This complements our innovative ISO9001 certification scheme, also designed to gives our members a competitive edge,' says PCG's chief executive John Thomas.

'By making it easier for freelance candidates to prove that the information on their CVs is accurate, PCG (QP) will save agencies and clients both time and money, and allow faster fulfilment of assignments requiring clearance. Everyone wins.'

Steve Bailey, chief executive of, says, 'Organisations are looking for three basic safeguards.

They want to protect their business from fraudsters, they want to protect their existing employees from unknown elements entering the workplace and they want to protect their customers from any kind of threat.

We are delighted to be working with PCG to deliver a background checking solution for contractors who move from project to project.'

According to Derek Wreay, managing director of the Wreay Group, the inclusion of misleading information on CVs is a major bugbear for his company's recruiters. 'We welcome PCG's initiative,' he says.

'Large corporates typically spend millions of pounds on physical security, like manned guarding and biometric access to buildings and computer systems.

They are now waking up to the fact that they rarely check out new contractors and employees with the same rigour, and yet IDC research shows that 80 per cent of threats come from within the workplace.'

PCG is the not-for-profit trade association representing independent freelancers in the UK and has informal links with the BCS.