An Employers' Guide to Background Checks
Pre-employment background checks are essential in many business settings. Reliable screening methods provide an important safeguard for businesses, the owners, and their employees.
When conducting background checks, however, employers need to be aware of legal considerations. Some employer background checks have been challenged as discriminatory under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Here are some points to keep in mind when you use pre-employment background checks:
Be consistent. If you conduct a pre-employment background check on applicants, be sure you check all applicants. Results of background checks should be kept strictly confidential.
Be specific. Consider the position and job description. Identify the offenses that would directly impact the person’s ability to perform the job duties. Consider the nature of the crime, its relation to the potential job, and the time that has passed since the offense. Be aware of the difference between arrest and conviction and between felony and misdemeanor. The greatest legal pitfall to avoid is having a blanket policy that prohibits your company from hiring any applicant who has had a conviction, no matter the nature of the crime nor the time elapsed.
Be in compliance. If you use a third-party reporting company, be sure you have the applicant’s permission in writing before requesting the report. The permission form must be a document separate from the application. Make certain that applicants understand their right to receive a copy of the report and to correct any errors the report might contain. Provide contact information for the reporting company.
Be clear. Let applicants know the type and extent of background screenings that will be conducted. Laws have changed over the years and applicants sometimes believe that they don’t have to share criminal convictions that are more than 10 years in the past. Explain that convictions will show up on the report no matter how old they are. (Non-convictions that are more than seven years old will not be reported according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA.) Falsification of information on an application may disqualify the applicant from employment or result in immediate dismissal, if hired.
It is important for employers to remember that criminal background checks may violate antidiscrimination laws if conducted incorrectly. Employment Edge has the knowledge and experience to conduct pre-employment background checks that meet state and federal guidelines. We provide:
- Review of job descriptions to determine whether a background check is necessary
- Assessment of offenses that directly impact the applicant’s ability to perform the job
- Disclosure and authorization forms in compliance with FCRA guidelines
- Explanation to applicants regarding their rights related to background checks
Give us a call today at 605-271-5627.