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An employer's complete guide to BPSS clearance

Posted on Monday, October 24, 2022

Baseline Personnel Security Standard or BPSS for short is the recognised UK government standard and best practice for pre-employment screening of individuals with access to government assets. By carrying out BPSS, you are ensuring that you are employing people who are entitled to work in the UK with the honesty, integrity and values needed for government-related work.

At Secure Screening Services, we have put together this complete guide to BPSS clearance to tell you all you need to know about this important screening process. 

What is BPSS clearance?

BPSS clearance (Baseline Personnel Security Standard) is a legal requirement in the UK for the pre-employment screening of employees who may have access to government assets and sensitive information. 

 The ‘basic’ DBS check ensures applicants’ suitability for certain responsible roles and contains information about spent and unspent convictions, as well as forming the starting point of the BPSS clearance process for applicants.

BPSS is a key part of the UK Counter Terrorist Check (CTC), Security Clearance (SC), and higher, Developed Vetting (DV)  vetting procedures. Employers in the UK must bear in mind that hiring unauthorised workers can lead to unlimited fines and up to 5 years imprisonment. 

Who is BPSS clearance for? 

BPSS is intended for individuals who might carry out work on sensitive information for government contracts, or who have access to important government assets. BPSS clearance is usually required for full-time employees and contractors in the communications, energy and financial industries.       

BPSS Screening

The aim of BPSS clearance is to ensure suitable members of staff are employed. Roles BPSS clearance is commonly used for include: 

  • The police force
  • The army
  • Civil servants 
  • NHS 
  • Secret Services
  • Contractors working on government projects

Why is BPSS clearance important? 

BPSS clearance mitigates the risks associated with employing into roles where sensitive data is prevalent, and provides assurance of the trustworthiness, honesty and integrity of those being recruited. This is crucial so that employers can hire people who are truly best suited to the role. The government has made BPSS clearance checks compulsory for important government positions for good reason. 

Skipping the BPSS clearance process could potentially lead to cyberattacks, the leaking of sensitive information to the press, the public gaining access to patient's confidential medical records, releasing individuals’ private financial details to the public, criminals, and more. 

There is still an ongoing threat to UK national security from terrorism. The UK government has therefore put high-security screening measures in place, such as BPSS clearance, to prevent employers from hiring people intending to harm the UK government or its citizens using their position at work. It’s the government’s duty to protect national security, and employing the wrong people can give rise to insider threats.

What is included in BPSS clearance? 

BPSS is a series of pre-employment checks with four elements: Right to Work, verification of identity, DBS and an employment history check of 3 years. 

Individuals going through the BPSS clearance screening process must also disclose all extended periods spent abroad. The standard stipulates any cumulative periods of 6 months or more candidates have spent abroad must be looked into with rigorous scrutiny. In general, BPSS clearance performs stringent checks on all gaps in employment. 

Every organisation will have different ways they go about carrying out the screening and clearance of employees. Each BPSS  security measure has purposely been enforced by the government for a reason. Here is a rundown of each check involved in the process:

Right to Work

This step verifies an employee’s nationality and immigration status in the UK. Right to Work checks are intended to prevent illegal workers from joining the workforce in this country. 

BPSS Screening

Before taking on new staff, employers must first ensure they have the right documents, such as a passport, and the legal right to work in the UK. On 6th April 2022, the Home Office introduced new, digital identity rules around conducting Right to Work checks online. Published alongside, the Good Practice Guide 45 (GPG45) identifies best practice guidance and incorporates the end of coronavirus adjusted measures (30/9/2022).

At Secure Screening Services, we go one step further with our fully automated Right to Work screening system which removes the burden from employers to provide a streamlined onboarding process for you and your candidates. We work with a fully accredited identity service provider to deploy cutting-edge identity document verification technology, seamlessly integrated with our  GDPR-compliant screening portal, meaning we can fully automate the process and you no longer need to manually check candidates' IDs. 

Verification of identity

False documentation is extremely sophisticated these days. Phoney ID documents can be difficult for staff to flag up and spot. Therefore, a stringent identity verification process must be carried out before an employee commences a job with access to sensitive government information. Here at Security Screening Services, we have the capability to perform digital ID verification, taking away the risk of manual error. 

BPSS Screening

Verifying that your applicant is who they say they are is a vital step in the screening process. An employment security check is flawed without effective verification of identity. It’s nice and reassuring to know who you’re working with.

DBS check

DBS is a report that contains details of convictions and conditional cautions that are deemed to be unspent under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974. A DBS check is a way for employers to flag someone’s criminal record and opens the opportunity for them to have a conversation with the employee in question about voluntary viewing. 

The DBS check can help employers decide whether a candidate is a suitable person to come and work for them. Additionally, a DBS check can also help to gauge whether a candidate is suitable to work around children or vulnerable adults.

Employment history 

An employment history check covers the previous three years employment including non-work-related activity. Employment history checks reassure you that an applicant’s CV and interview were an accurate reflection of their career to this date. And according to a UK Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) survey, around 33% of graduates or job seekers falsify important information on their CVs every year.

Integrity and honesty are basic vital traits for anyone working in a high-security role with access to government information or assets. The employment history check aims to confirm that all the employment details your applicant has provided check out correctly.

How long does BPSS clearance take?

The BPSS clearance process has a fairly quick turnaround and it usually takes approximately 5-10 working days to complete. The checks are relatively non-intrusive, so information can be quickly verified by relevant third parties. 

However, sometimes delays can happen and agencies may take longer to confirm things like criminal records. At Secure Screening Services, we offer efficient and automated screening solutions to make things go smoothly and prevent any delays. Most of the checks we perform go through instantly and are hassle-free. Our BPSS screening package will provide your company with the highest possible level of protection. 

What happens after BPSS clearance?

So, you have completed the BPSS clearance for a candidate. What happens now? When individuals have been verified, their information is listed on a BPSS Verification Record. Employers can then store and retain this information on their personal file. 

Access to individual personal files is restricted to a few select people, and should only ever be looked at on a need-to-know basis. When you choose Secure Screening Services for your BPSS clearance, we provide you with a full PDF report upon completion for your own records and as proof of BPSS clearance for clients or auditors. 

BPSS Screening

Information from BPSS clearance can be transferred to a new employer when an employee changes their employment. There is no expiry date. The exception to this is migrant workers, who must have BPSS clearance carried out 12 months after the previous check.

How to conduct BPSS clearance

The easiest way to conduct BPSS clearance is to turn to a professional screening service, such as us here at Secure Screening Services. Our user-friendly and GDPR-compliant online screening portal can be accessed at any time from anywhere around the world. 

We are able to provide you with the quick turnaround times you need. And whilst our system is automated for quick and efficient checks, our highly knowledgeable and professional team are always here to offer a human touch and answer any queries you may have.


Want to carry out additional security checks on your applicants? SSS offer a range of bespoke employment screening packages, so you can tailor your checks to your needs. 

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Secure Screening Services today. Email [email protected], fill out a contact form on our website, or call us on 01243 767 868 to get in contact with one of our helpful advisors. Our first-rate, customer-centric approach is one of the reasons why our customers turn to us for their screening time and time again.

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