Big changes from the MoJ #1 - No More Free Third Party Checks


This May 3 sees the biggest changes to the NZ criminal record checking system in many years.

As well as introducing a new online portal, the Ministry has made a number of changes to its business model. I'd like to share my thoughts on the impact of all of this on your background checking processes.

Without further ado, let's look at change #1, and it's a big one.

The MoJ's free third party service has reached the end of the road. From May 3, there is no longer any safe way to get a candidate's criminal record without paying.

For many organisations doing high volumes of free checks, this is a big deal. Currently, you and your candidate can complete the standard third party form, which you then post to the Ministry. After 20 working days or so, you would get back the candidate's report. All free.

Obviously there were several problems with this model.

For one, 20 working days is a long time.

To deal with this, many companies today add the "we can terminate you if you lied about your criminal record" clause to their agreements. (Of course the proverbial axe murderer could be working alongside their new colleagues for a month or more before their violent background comes to light).

Another problem with the current system is hinted at in the name - they're commonly known as postal checks.

Yes, today all free third party checks must be sent in to the MoJ physically, in an actual paper envelope (what is this, the twentieth century?). This always seemed a little strange, especially since MoJ allowed other requests (such as self-checks or priority third party checks) to be sent via email, and since the MoJ's service is so utterly reliable for 3 day priority checks. Some people cynically saw the whole postal requirement and the slow service as a way for MoJ to slow things down and reduce demand for this free service. We couldn't possibly comment on that!

On May 3, this all changes.

There are still third party checks, but now:

1) they are no longer free, but cost $11 + GST when ordered direct from MoJ.

2) they take only 3 working days (as fast as the fastest priority service available today!)

3) you must capture a new candidate authorisation form signed by the candidate to show consent, and preserve this to meet MoJ's audit requirements

4) they can be submitted electronically

So in summary, third party checks are no longer free, but they are much faster. And with no more printing, they are certainly better for the environment.

Next post, I'll talk about some more changes to the process, especially relevant if you are currently a priority CCH customer (ordering Gold, Silver or Bronze checks).

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