By Paul Gerber
Before making a hiring decision, most organizations seek more information on the candidate’s criminal history, credit worthiness, and general background. Employee background checks have become a must-have, as they have a definite impact on the success of recruiting efforts. This information is not only helpful in assessing workplace risks and liabilities, but also to assist employers in identifying candidates who are suitable for the job.
Here are five best practices for assessing your employment screening.
1. Identifying Legitimate Business Reasons That Support The Background Checks
The Fair Credit Reporting Act contains specific requirements relating to the type of reports obtained. The duties of the position should be thoroughly assessed with regards to the environment where the work is performed and the exposure that the employee will have to sensitive business information.
Some jobs require employees to interact with vulnerable populations or access confidential data and/or personal information of their customers. It is a best practice to identify positions that require accurate background checks.
2. Post Hiring Practices
Although pre-employment screening and background checks are important, periodic screening is also vital to mitigating unlawful behavior and maintaining a dependable workforce. For example, an applicant can pass an initial criminal background check, but after being hired may commit a criminal offense justifying termination. It is important that businesses periodically screen employees to identify those individuals who may have committed crimes.
To avoid misunderstandings, your employment agreement should reflect this practice. Additionally, employers should create a standard screening policy for each position rather than conduct background checks case by case to reduce the likelihood of an employment discrimination action.
3. Stay Within the Guidelines Set Out By the EEOC
The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) requires that you adhere to certain anti-discrimination laws. Take special care when basing employment decisions on background problems that may be more common among people of a certain race, color, national origin, sex, or religion; among people who have a disability; or among people age 40 or older. For example, employers should not use a policy or practice that excludes people with certain criminal records if the policy or practice significantly disadvantages individuals of a particular race, national origin, or another protected characteristic, and does not accurately predict who will be a responsible, reliable, or safe employee. In legal terms, the policy or practice has a “disparate impact” and is not “job related and consistent with business necessity.”
4. Centralization or Decentralization
For businesses with multiple locations, it is important to have a common guideline for background screening policies. The decision should be made whether the policies should be centralized or localized. Some organizations prefer a centralized approach where everything is managed by a single policy. Some may prefer having separate policies depending on the geographic location of each office.
5. Stay Up-to-Date With Local Laws
As businesses and the legal landscape keeps evolving, it is crucial to stay abreast of the regulatory and legal requirements for background screening. Assessing your employment screening practices on a regular basis ensures that your organization is insulated from the expensive litigation that may arise through negligent hiring or worse, through class action lawsuits. This includes everything from the employment application, to the interview, to the background check, and I-9 verification. Many jurisdictions have passed “ban the box” laws preventing the employer from asking about the applicant’s criminal background prior to offering them a position. Other restrictions may apply in your locale.