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What is SC Clearance and why are more companies requesting you have it?

Updated: May 30, 2019

By: Eleanor Wolfe


More and more companies are requiring their new hires to have undergone a security check known as SC clearance. SC Clearance is used by companies to determine a person’s background and characteristics to assess their fitness to have access to ‘top secret’ information. The number of companies that insist any new employees are SC cleared are on the rise. It used to be that only those IT professionals working on projects connected with the government were required to be SC Cleared, but the last few years have seen other types of companies list a Security Check as an essential requirement.


The idea of employers performing a comprehensive background check on potential employees is, on the face of it, a good one as it removes the chance of visa issues or undesirable characteristics disrupting their employment. However, this requirement can restrict the pool of candidates available to an employer. Although the number of candidates with SC Clearance is steadily increasing, some groups of candidates such as non-EU citizens that have been resident in the UK for less than five years will not meet this criteria. Employers may miss out on valuable skill sets by strictly enforcing the need for SC Clearance.


The need for SC Clearance largely depends on the company you will be joining and the projects you will be working on. If you have access to highly sensitive information or assets or have proximity to public figures at risk of a terrorist attack a Security Check will be essential. The United Kingdom Security Vetting Service (UKSV) sets down the eligibility criteria for SC Clearance: you must have been resident in the UK for 5 years prior to the assessment. You will then need to go through a baseline personal security check, company records check, security questionnaire, criminal record check, credit reference check and security service check. Once all checks have been undertaken the application is assessed and either approved or declined. Once the application is approved the SC Clearance is granted. The SC Clearance will then be reviewed every 10 years.


For permanent employees getting SC Clearance is relatively simple – your required sponsor will usually be your line manager or a human resources officer. Contractors will not be sponsored unless the company employing them are working on at least one MOD classified project. The rationale for requiring a sponsor is obviously to ensure the security vetting process is carried out correctly. For IT consultancies that are not government departments this requires a lot of manpower and paperwork, so why is the number of companies requiring SC Clearance on the rise? My belief is that the reason is mainly a commercial one, advancements in technology mean that even the government requires the latest software upgrades to function. IT technology providers are homing in on this demand which has subsequently meant they need more SC Cleared employees to work on these projects.

I would be happy to discuss any of the ideas and issues raised in this article, if you have any additional comments or questions please feel free to drop me a line at e.wolfe@mortimerbell.com.



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