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Security clearance for IT contractors

There are certain clients who will require security clearance for contractors to undertake contract work for them. So lets have a look at what security clearance means? Security clearance checks are rigorous but will allow contractors, if cleared, access to sensitive or classified information at government or commercial levels.

So how do I get security clearance?

Firstly, you should be aware that only an employer / sponsor can apply for security clearance. Once the initial application has been completed, the contractors can then look to become security clearance certified.

There are 4 main types of clearance:
•    Baseline Personnel Security Standard
•    Counter Terrorist Checks
•    Security Checks
•    Developed Vetting

The main security clearing bodies include The Defense Vetting Agency, National Security Vetting, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Metropolitan Police Service.

As a contractor, your security clearance will only be valid for a specific period of time; this will be dependent on the project length and term of employment. Typically clearance will last a maximum of a 12-month period, however if you gain security clearance with one employer it is normally possible to transfer this over to a new contract with a different employer.

As a contractor you will not be allowed to start a contract until the relevant clearance has been granted.

So what is the difference between the 4 types of security checks and the timelines to gain clearance?

Baseline Personnel Security Standard (14 days)

This is not classified as ‘formal’ clearance, but instead provides employers with assurance on the contractor’s trustworthiness, integrity and reliability if given access to confidential information.

Counter Terrorist Checks (30 days)

These checks are required for contractors that are given access to information regarding national security and unrestricted access to certain government and commercial establishments.

Security Check (30 days)

This is a requirement for contractors that are to be given access to secret and occasionally top-secret information. Over and above the basic check, the clearance requires UK criminal and security checks and a comprehensive credit check.

Developed Vetting (95 days)

This is the highest level of security clearance available at present and is only granted to contractors requiring substantial unsupervised access to top-secret information or for those with contracts with intelligence or government security agencies. The checks include a security check, a Developed Vetting questionnaire, financial checks, references and formal interviews.

If you have a contract role that requires security clearance, it may all be a little daunting, however remember there are great advantages of working in this niche sector, which will overshadow the clearance process. This includes increased salaries, greater job opportunities and an increased advantage of being offered a contract because of the clearance you may already have gained.

Working through an umbrella company will also allow you the freedom to concentrate on contracts without any of the hassle of running your own limited company and you will be safe in the knowledge that all of your expenses, invoices and tax are being taken care of.

If you are interested in the benefits to working under an umbrella company, these pages may be of interest to you:

Employee Benefits: A snapshot of the benefits available to you as an umbrella aerospace or defense contractor.
Umbrella v’s Limited: Look at the options of being self-employed or via an umbrella company.
Expenses: What expenses can you claim legitimately?

If you wish to sign up as a contractor with Contractor Umbrella, please either complete the registration form by clicking here or you can request a call back and someone will talk you through the sign up process.