Cabinet Office Guidelines state that Recruitment Agencies are not allowed to ask for security clearance levels in advance unless the assignment is short term or required at very short notice.
The REC Director of External Relations, Tom Hadley said “Contract jobs in sensitive areas may require a security clearance; however this should not be seen as a pre-requisite for the posting. In many cases clients can wait for a candidate to be cleared and it is important that these jobs are open to as many contractors as possible. We are aware that sometimes clients may ask for clearances up front, but this should only happen when a contractor is needed at short notice. This advice is in line with guidance from the Cabinet Office and we urge clients and agencies alike to think twice before demanding a clearance up front.\”
Speaking on the issue, Cabinet Minister Angela Smith MP said that “national security vetting controls are important, but must be applied proportionately and fairly. Where security clearances are necessary, an existing clearance should not be used as part of the selection criteria or inhibit access to jobs, except in rare cases where a contract is urgent or very short term. The Cabinet Office will continue to work with the REC, PCG and others to ensure vetting guidelines are properly understood and applied.”
Security Clearance Checks
Contractors working on Government Contracts normally require adequate security clearance before starting an assignment. There are four main types of Security Clearance; Basic Identity Checks (BC), Counter Terrorist Checks (CTC), Security Checks (SC) and Developed Vetting (DV).
Security checks normally take a long time to complete and there is a chance that Security Clearance will not be granted at the end of a check meaning that a Client or Recruiter has to go back to the start of the process to find a suitable contractor.
- Basic Identity Checks (BC): A fundamental assurance to an organisation that a contractor who has access to sensitive information is trustworthy. A BC is not a formal security clearance but is a pre-requisite for a CTC, SC or DV. The check only takes around 2 days to 2 weeks to complete in which time a contractor’s identity and employment history are investigated. Many professionals new to requiring security clearance often start off with an assignment that requires a Basic Identity Check.
- Counter Terrorist Checks (CTC): Counter-Terrorist Checks are required where there may be a threat from terrorism to Government establishments. A CTC involves a Basic Identity Check and then a detailed check against Police and MI5 records. Unfortunately CTCs can take a long time, often 6 months. The good news however is that once approved a CTC is normally valid for up to 3 years.
- Security Clearance (SC): Security Clearance is the most widely undertaken check to be carried out and is required where an individual may be given uncontrolled access to sensitive information. A Security Check involves a Basic Identity Check plus further checks against security and criminal records. An SC takes around 6 weeks to complete but once approved is normally only reviewed once every 10 years. There is significant demand for consultants with Security Clearance. By holding Security Clearance you may be able to agree higher contract rates as there is a smaller pool of workers from which to choose.
- Developed Vetting: (DV): Developed Vetting is the highest level of security clearance and is required only for the most sensitive assignments. Contractors will not normally be required to undertake this form of check as workers requiring this level of clearance are normally recruited on a permanent basis.
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