Banking Industry Conduct Background Check Protocol

The Australian Bankers Association has published its Banking Industry Conduct Background Check Protocol which is designed to identify bank job applicants who have been dismissed for misconduct; resigned after being notified of an investigation; or been notified of an investigation but have not yet resigned or been dismissed. The regime is not intended to identify staff who had a problem but were performance managed to re-establish their career.

Banks will have to keep files on all employees who have been disciplined or investigated for five years, but the onus will be on the hiring bank to request the files.

The protocol complements the ABA’s Financial Adviser Reference Checking & Information Sharing Protocol, which was created to promote improved reference checking during the recruitment of financial advisers.

The new background check regime will be in place by 1 July 2017 for the major banks and October 1 for other ABA members.

The protocol will require banks to ask a series of fact-based questions about employment history and conduct, including whether someone was dismissed or resigned in circumstances relating to misconduct such as selling customer data, compromising customer security or wilfully and repeatedly breaching bank policies.

The protocol does not require a former employer to answer the questions in a Conduct Background Check if it forms the view that is unable to do so because:

  • Of operational limitations of records held by the former employer;
  • Of legal obligations, including restrictions in an employment contract, deed or other legal documentation entered into prior to the Implementation Date;
  • Of legislative and regulatory obligations, including privacy, whistleblowing, tipping off; or
  • Disclosure would be inconsistent with the ABA’s Guiding Principles – Improving Protections for Whistleblowers.

If one of these circumstances applies, the former employer must respond to the request with “unable to respond”. The hiring employer should not draw any specific inference from that response.

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