Conducting employee background screening is one of the risk management processes that organizations should pursue. These checks are also proactive measures towards mitigating risks in an organization. The process gives you confidence that you have hired the right people. While employee background checks are useful, they must be done within the provisions of the law. Here are 7 facts to help you avoid issues that may arise from employee background checks.
1. Find Out the Laws that Apply to Your Business
Employee checks are subject to both federal and state laws. It is imperative that you know the laws that apply in your state. Generally, you should follow the laws that apply where the employee will be working. You need to be careful especially if you have multiple businesses in different states.
2. Conduct the Background Checks that are Permitted
Several types of background checks can be conducted on employees. These checks include driving record, drug screening, credit history, criminal history, liens and civil checks among others. These checks are useful in helping organizations get the right people. However, certain checks are limited and must be done with the consent of the employee. For instance, in some states, you cannot conduct credit history checks without the consent of the person to be hired.
3. Get Written Authorizations
By law, all employers who conduct background checks are expected to notify the job applicant. This should be done in a separate document from the application form. Employers also need to detail the type of checks that they will conduct. It is prudent for employers to follow these guidelines.
4. Do Not Discriminate Against Applicants
All applicants should be treated equally when conducting background checks. For instance, it is illegal and unethical to only perform checks on certain job applicants based on their sex, race, colour or religion. These checks need to be uniform and carried out on all applicants without discrimination.
5. Notify Applicants of Any Decisions Made Using the Background Checks
If you base a hiring or retention decision on a background check, then you should notify the applicant or employee. You should include your findings in your report. Send a copy to the applicant to give them an opportunity to respond to your findings. Employers should also notify applicants if they reject their applications based on background checks.
6. Comply With the Laws on Retention and Disposal of the Records
Employers need to retain the records from background checks for at least one year. This is to facilitate any discrimination charges brought against your company. Certain jurisdictions will require companies to retain these records for longer. Once this period expires, employers must dispose of the information in a manner that the same information cannot be accessed or read by other parties.
7. Be Objective about Background Checks
Criminal checks are useful in giving helpful information that can influence your hiring decisions. However, you need to be objective when reviewing them. Additionally, they should be analyzed in their proper context.