I accepted an offer in the financial sector in the UK.

The offer is contingent on successfully passing the background checks, which are carried out by a third party. The background process has been ongoing during seven weeks, which I find excessive.

I have submitted many documents and references, and they keep always moving the goalposts, asking for more and more documents and references. From bank account statements to letters of service, HR and manager contacts in my previous and current roles, authorisation to obtain all university records... nothing is enough. They have even contacted my current employer.

I think at this point that they don't trust me, clearly, they don't take anything I say at face value. The latest drop in the glass is asking for one payslip for each year I have worked for during the last eight years with my current and former employer. Honestly, I think that mapping my whole compensation across this period of time is too much and unheard of. Specially if the stated purpose is to verify the employment dates.

I am considering replying saying that they already have a wealth of information to make a very informed decision, and not provide any payslips. The only valid alternative that they might accept is a HMRC Employment History Letter.

Do you find this standard practice or do I have a thin skin? Isn't salary information confidential?

Update: apparently my past employer has already shared my salary with them, without me even knowning. We live in 1984.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Commented May 20, 2022 at 11:15

5 Answers 5


tl;dr - push back gently and respectfully and see if they really need this paperwork...

Long Version

I've been through this a couple of times in the past (both the financial sector, both in the Square Mile, London, UK).

You're at the point where it's in everyone's interest for you to join:

  • The recruitment agent liked you enough to put you forward for interview, and is in line for a nice commission when you accept an offer

  • The hiring manager liked you enough at interview to offer you the role - they can stop interviewing other candidates, and they'll have someone to help with their workload as soon as you're on board

  • The HR department can close down the interview process for this role if you accept the offer, and that's one less job for them to do.

  • You get a new job which is (hopefully) better than your current one

But HR also have a compliance requirement to do background checks, which they outsource to a third party company. If that company just went back to HR and said "yeah, we checked the same stuff you already looked at and it's fine" it wouldn't really justify their costs, so they just keep asking for more and more documents to build a big dossier on you to look like they're doing a good job (ok, that's a bit cynical, but you get the idea).

When I got to the point where they repeatedly asked for documents I didn't have, or I didn't want to give, I contacted the HR department of the hiring company and explained that I'd given a lot of information to the background check company but they now wanted quite personal documents that I didn't think were relevant, that I was reluctant to provide them, and did they really need these specific documents?

You could also ask if there are any other documents that would give them the same information - e.g. a letter from past employers confirming employment dates, for example, rather than payslips.

If HR say it's a dealbreaker without these documents then you need to make a decision about whether to give them the documents or walk away from the offer. And if you do walk away, make it clear to HR (and if possible the hiring manager) that you'd love to work for the company, but the personal nature of the documents the background check company is asking for means you can't accept the offer - you never know, they might change their mind.

Ultimately HR and the hiring manager don't want to lose a good candidate and start the whole recruitment process again so they'll potentially ask the background check company for their evaluation of the dossier they've already built, and they might agree they've seen enough.

Note - depending on how you applied for the role, talk to the recruitment agent, or the hiring manager instead, but remember the background check company is a supplier to the hiring company - they'll do whatever they're told to do by HR so they're the ones you want to talk to really.

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    Thanks for emphasising that I can push back a bit, specially after having provided already so much informatin. As you've gone through the same process I'm a few times, I have two questions: - Did you ever fail a background check in this sector? - Have you ever done my potential big mistake of giving my notice in my current employer with a contingent offer? I only did this because the company recruiter was putting pressure on this, saying the hiring manager wanted me to start asap, and I have a long notice period. Thanks. Commented May 18, 2022 at 22:11
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    And yes, giving notice without accepting another firm offer first was a big mistake. Don’t beat yourself up about it as it’s done now, but learn from it and remember you always have a choice. If someone is pressuring you to do something, talk about it with someone you trust first (a friend or family - not a recruiter :-)) to get a second opinion. And if you don’t get a firm offer from the new job soon, think about going back to job hunting while you carry on trying to sort out the background checks on this one. Good luck!
    – mclayton
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 1:14
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    It is implicit in your answer but the bullet list of everyone is missing one player: the third-party company doing the background check. They don't care whether you join the company anytime soon or not. They want to make the background check as long and complicated as they can (assuming they get paid per hour or something like that). So the key point is to bypass them and talk to HR directly.
    – quarague
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 10:53
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    @quarague - yeah, not to paint them as monsters, but their motivation is to keep HR happy with their service so they keep paying, and that's tangential to whether you get cleared or not :-). If you can convince HR the latest batch of document requests are unnecessary and are obstructing the recruitment process then they're no longer keeping HR happy. It's obviously not quite that simple - the documents might be legitimately needed, for example - but that's about the only leverage you personally have over them.
    – mclayton
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 11:07
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    That's the classic pressure that recruitment agents put on, and is almost always nonsense. The recruiter wants you to start as soon as possible, because (a) then they get their commission sooner and (b) you won't have time to accept a better offer from a different recruiter. Of course the new boss wants you to start soon, but they are also human and understand that people have notice periods to deal with. If they don't get that, you probably don't want to work for them anyway. Commented May 20, 2022 at 10:54

The latest drop in the glass is asking for one payslip for each year I have worked for during the last eight years with my current and former employer.

That is clearly excessive. Payslips are confidential information and you could get in trouble for disclosing them. I would reach out to your hiring manager and ask why this is necessary. Unless there is something highly unusual about your job, this is out of line. Maybe your hiring manager can reel this guys in.

If they insist, I would re-assess this opportunity.

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    I fully agree it is confidential information. Would you mind to elaborate about why I could get in trouble if I end up disclosing the salary slips? Thanks. Commented May 18, 2022 at 17:36
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    @SparklingWater, because it's frequently a clause in either the contract or employee handbook to not do so. You wouldn't want to in any case as it disadvantages you in salary negotiation.
    – Justin
    Commented May 18, 2022 at 17:46
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    @Justin Wouldn't any policy attempting to prevent an employee from sharing salary information be illegal in the UK? Or at least unenforceable according to the Equality Act? (I agree OP shouldn't in this specific case.)
    – BSMP
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 5:38
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    @BSMP - would not rely on the Equality act for this. It only means that employers can't stop salary discussions to figure out if they are discriminating on the basis of a protected characteristic.
    – lupe
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 10:50
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    @BSMP - I know, right? The USA also has arguably better theoretical protections for unionization, and the UK has spent a considerable amount of time gutting things like employment tribunals and the legal system. There are currently intense backlog in employment cases, along with a very small legal aid provision - actually taking your employer to court for unfair treatment is currently a step with not a high probability of success
    – lupe
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 17:25

If they push and say they really do need the pay slips, you could do what I did and just black out all of the pay information.

Basically, all they could read was my previous employer's name and address and my name and address. All of the fields that disclosed my previous pay, benefits, and etc. were blacked out.


If they are wanting to verify who you've worked for, you can send then (pay-redacted) copies of your P60s - these are the end-of-year tax summary. The HMRC recommends that you keep these.


Others have given great advice: push back and tell the company that they have ample amount of information to run a background check.

I am of a paranoid mind and wonder if the company you applied to is running a scam. What business would not want a worker starting as soon as possible (let alone 7 weeks later)? It's very odd that they keep asking you for all types of personal information.

In the USA, over the last couple of years there has been Paycheck Protection Program scams - where a boss/CEO wants a PPP loan, but cannot obtain the loan because they have too little workers so they pretend to be in the hiring process to get the relief. Possibly something like that is happening here (?). I hope the company is legitimate and are working as efficiently as they can to get your background check finished.

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    Scam - my thought also. Commented May 20, 2022 at 22:32
  • I fully understand your concerns but this is not a scam, it is a very well-known company. I expect this matter to be solved in the next 10 days maximum. Commented May 21, 2022 at 6:33
  • Well known companies engage in crime also. Commented May 21, 2022 at 21:33

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