Depending on your state and what type of business you are in, employee background checks may or may not be mandated by law. In businesses that deal with children or seniors, Federal law requires background checks on all employees and/or volunteers. The reasons should be obvious: the Federal government wants to ensure that those served are safe from hard and employers need to safeguard themselves against negligent lawsuits.
If an employee will be doing any type of driving for the business, it is important to know their driving history. For insurance purposes, employers need to have up-to-date information regarding the candidate’s Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) report. This report details any moving violations or accidents. Information such as this can assist the employer in making a solid decision regarding the hiree. This type of information is usually available at the state level for a minimal fee.
Employers conduct employee background checks for a variety of reasons. With the rise of lawsuits for negligence, many employers are considering employee background checks a standard part of their Human Resource guidelines. A growing number of child and elder abuse cases, as well as child abduction cases, make it important for all employers hiring people to work with these groups to perform detailed background checks. Following the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, many employers are now screening new hires with a scrutinizing eye. Concerns over potential terrorists obtaining positions within sensitive agencies have increased the popularity of employee background investigations.
Employers also want to be sure that the information given by the applicant is true and accurate. With many employers reporting up to 30% of applicants falsifying information, background checks can screen for those who lie on resumes. Employers often interpret this as a lack of good morals and character on the part of the applicant. It is direly important for prospective employees to be up-front and honest about their backgrounds, work experience and education.
Pre-Employment Background Checks
In the information age, in which we live, background checks are not necessarily difficult to perform. Basically, an employer needs to understand the Fair Credit Report Act laws as well as laws pertaining to individual states. With these laws in mind, the employer can determine what type of information is actually needed, considering each position within their company and the details of the job function. Some positions may require cash or sensitive information handling and would therefore need a thorough criminal background check. Other positions may not be as sensitive in nature but require a high degree of education or experience in the field. Educational background checks and work related references are often very important in this type of pre-employment screening.
Some employers require a credit report in their pre-employment screening tools. This subject is widely debated and is often considered an invasion of privacy. Many prospective employees ask employers, “I will not be handling cash transactions or dealing with personal information, why do you need my credit report?” Most employers who request this information are not necessarily trying to be intrusive into the candidate’s life; they simply believe that a credit report is a good indicator of character. Some employers insist that a poor credit score, which indicates failure to pay bills on time, means that the individual does not have a high level of responsibility. Others claim that a poor credit score indicates poor job performance and could possibly turn into retention issues. Credit reports also list employment history and places the person has lived. Employers often use this as a pre-screening tool to verify that application information is true and accurate.
Another type of pre-employment background check included in the “investigative consumer report” is character referencing. This method usually involves the personal interviewing of friends, family, neighbors or associates and is an approved method of screening under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This type of investigation does, however, require a separate consent form required under the FCRA. It gives the employer a general idea about the candidate’s character and personal moral values.
It is imperative that employers provide notice to the applicant prior to conducting the pre-screening background check. As mandated by federal law, specifically the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Employers need to ensure that they are following the guidelines set forth by the Act. Having the proper consent forms and understanding what information can and cannot be used in the hiring process is just as important as gaining the information itself.