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My employer in the United Kingdom has been requested by a third party (whom we, the company, work for) that all employees complete a security related interview involving personal questions such as if we have any issues in our marriage, if we have any problems with car/house loans etc., If we have problems with alcohol or drugs outside of work and other personal questions.

This is for the benefit of the 3rd party company and was not mentioned in our original contract unless there is a catchall clause covering it. We have all worked here for more than 3 years.

The answers will be recorded with a summary sent to the 3rd party confidentially and records kept confidentally by our HR department at our company.

Is this legal in the UK? There has been an implication that it wouldn't be acceptable to refuse to answer questions.

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    Is this for security clearance? Or a security audit by a customer? – simbabque Nov 12 at 10:33
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    security clearance but im not sure which one specifically – Steven Nov 12 at 10:35
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    I work for my employer. Whom we work for, as in we the company, work for the 3rd party. But they are not my employer. – Steven Nov 12 at 12:01
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    Have the company said what the vetting is ?? This sounds like DV the highest Level of vetting for defence work. – Neuromancer Nov 12 at 21:01
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    I am sure that I was asked similar questions for SC, not DV. They certainly wanted to know my nett worth. Btw, @Bilkokuya, you should post that as an answer. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Nov 13 at 6:37
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They can ask but you have every right to tell them to shove it.

This isn't normal in any shape or form, the sorts of questions you are talking about do get looked into to one degree or another when you're going through some of the more rigorous security clearances and while I've had third parties require clearances to work with them before you don't provide this information directly to the third party or even to your employer but instead to the UKSV who will only tell the employer/third party a cleared or not-cleared status.

  • thanks, the third party is not based within the UK which may make a difference? – Steven Nov 12 at 10:40
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    @Steven it might make a difference - particularly if we are talking about a non-EU country? – motosubatsu Nov 12 at 11:24
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    its an EU country – Steven Nov 12 at 11:42
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    I like the point that you should be providing this information to an appropriate entity. If you were working with a third party that required vaccinations before a visit to a medical facility, would your HR department give you the shots? – Tashus Nov 12 at 17:01
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If you needed some government security clearance, then an awful lot of question would be asked, your family and maybe your friends would be asked, but your employer would not hear anything about anything you say, except at the end whether you got clearance or not.

So your employer asking for that kind of information is a very, very dark crimson red flag. They can ask, but they have not the slightest rights to an answer.

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    Family & friends only get asked for DV, the highest UK clearance level, but not for SC, which is the commonest – Mawg says reinstate Monica Nov 13 at 6:39
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all employees complete a security related interview involving personal questions such as if we have any issues in our marriage, if we have any problems with car/house loans etc., If we have problems with alcohol or drugs outside of work and other personal questions.

These questions generally fall into security clearance type questions for government jobs. However, for private sector I do not feel the questions are appropriate unless you work in some sensitive job like a bank. You can refuse to answer but you may not get selected for the job. As for legality of the questions, that's something you have to find out with a lawyer. Nobody here can say for sure if these are protected questions. Since they do ask it, I would imagine they are legal questions.

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