In terms of a new legislation, recruitment companies now have to consider taking fingerprints of candidates when being potentially recruited to be double-checked for criminal records. And at least one recruitment company has already implemented this new procedure.

Karen Geldenhuys, MD of Abacus Recruitment, says all the company's candidates have their fingerprints taken on the company's premises prior to being interviewed.
"This is a new procedure. We check for criminal records and the data is sent straight to the police's criminal database. We are also able to do credit checks, as well as checks such as qualification checks, previous employment and previous residential address. Employers, I would say, are very happy with these more stringent requirements before candidates are considered for employment.
"Some of our candidates are a bit shocked and refuse to co-operate – but then we choose not to work with them," says Geldenhuys.
By using biometrics and computer technology results are received within 48 hours.
Ideco documentation says: "The new Ideco AFISwitch is highly recommended by the SA Police Services. Ideco is South Africa's sole service provider of automated criminal background checks for the private sector."
This service interfaces with the SAPS AFIS to determine the criminal record status of a person. AFISwitch either captures digital fingerprints by means of electronic fingerprint scanners, or by using FBI-approved flatbed scanners. The AFISwitch service turnaround time is approximately 48 hours as opposed to the weeks or even months required by the conventional paper-based service.
AFISwitch allows companies and institutions to undertake background checks on job applicants and existing employees, as well as to obtain clearance certificates for the purposes of emigration, permanent residence, international investment and foreign directorships
AFIS operates as an automated checking service by creating an electronic information conduit between the Criminal Resource Centre in Pretoria and the Public. As all criminal records are accompanied by a set of fingerprints, AFIS allows companies to search for matches directly on the database, thus eliminating the potential for identity fraud.
In future the Criminal 'Name Clearance' check, which requires only a name and ID number, will be turned off by the South African Police Services CRC's, says Geldenhuys.
Currently, there are no constitutional implications to the procedure, she adds. A candidate can refuse to be subjected to a criminal record check – or any other check for that matter. It is, at the moment, entirely at the discretion of the recruitment agency as to whether a candidate is referred to an employer or not – and background screening is purely an aid to that decision.
However, in the last week some unions have objected to the fingerprinting process. "They want to exclude candidates from the fingerprinting process who are applying for positions that do not hold a risk to the company. In other words, more lower ranking positons," says Geldenhuys.
"This does not really affect us as IT candidates normally fall into the category that will have to do the fingerprinting – because they are working with financial systems or, in general, just the integral IT systems of the company."