Why you should be obsessed with Criminal Background Checks

Published 12 September 2023 | 2 min read

How do you know if you're hiring someone who is trustworthy and reliable?

As a manager in New Zealand, the responsibility of hiring new employees is a critical aspect of your job. It's not just about finding the right skills and qualifications, but also ensuring the safety and integrity of your workplace. In today's fast-paced world, where professional profiles are easily accessible online, the need for thorough criminal background checks has never been more pressing.


Consider the case of Mark McIlroy, a New Zealand business owner who recently found himself in a precarious situation. He was considering hiring a business coach named Gerard Gallagher, but it wasn't until he conducted a simple Google search that he uncovered a shocking truth. Gallagher, who presented himself as a "profit coach" on various online platforms, was concealing a criminal history of corruption while working for government agencies like the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) and Ōtākaro Limited.

This revelation left McIlroy astounded and concerned. Gallagher's online profiles did not mention his past employment history or his ongoing 12 months' home detention and 200 hours of community work sentence. The situation raised a crucial question - how many more individuals with hidden criminal backgrounds might be operating under the radar in the New Zealand job market?

The Gerard Gallagher case highlights the importance of criminal background checks in the hiring process. As a manager, you must be vigilant and thorough in your approach to screening potential employees. While the law in New Zealand does not obligate individuals to disclose their criminal history, this does not mean you should take such information lightly.

Failure to conduct proper background checks can lead to dire consequences for your business and workplace. It can expose your organisation to risks such as fraud, misconduct, and a tarnished reputation. Furthermore, hiring individuals with a history of violence or dishonesty can potentially jeopardise the safety and trust of your staff and clients.

How can New Zealand managers protect their businesses and make informed hiring decisions?

  1. Comprehensive Background Checks: The first step is to implement comprehensive criminal background checks as part of your hiring process. This can be done by requesting the candidate's consent to obtain their criminal history from the Ministry of Justice or through Police vetting. Remember, individuals who pose a risk will not willingly disclose their criminal past; you must take the initiative.
  2. Transparent Communication: Make sure your application forms and employment agreements clearly state that applicants must disclose all criminal convictions unless they fall under the Clean Slate Act 2004. Be explicit about the consequences of providing false or incomplete information.
  3. Educate Yourself: Familiarise yourself with the Clean Slate Act 2004, which automatically conceals certain minor convictions that are seven years or older. Understanding this legislation will help you interpret criminal records accurately.
  4. Police Vetting: For positions involving care of children, older people, or vulnerable members of society, consider Police vetting, which provides more comprehensive information, including traffic infringements, family violence, and interactions with the police.
  5. Online Verification: While online profiles can be misleading, use them as a starting point. Cross-reference information across multiple verified sources to get a more complete picture. However, don't solely rely on these profiles for decision-making.
  6. Consult Legal Experts: Seek advice from legal experts if you have concerns about a potential employee's criminal history. They can help you navigate the complexities of hiring in such situations.

In conclusion, New Zealand managers and decision-makers should be obsessed with conducting thorough criminal background checks on potential employees. The Gerard Gallagher case serves as a stark reminder of the risks of neglecting this crucial aspect of the hiring process. By being vigilant and proactive, you can safeguard your business, your employees, and your reputation in an increasingly interconnected world where information is readily available.

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Email us at info@eqconsultants.co.nz, or call us on 03 366 4034 for professional, one-on-one guidance.

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