Pennsylvania employers have two questions to consider about their background checks regarding time. First, how many years back does a criminal background check go in Pennsylvania? Second, how long is a PA criminal background check good for?
States have different laws in place that dictate how far back criminal background checks can go. The answer to “How many years back does a criminal background check go?” varies depending on where you are. In some states, employers are not allowed to consider felonies or misdemeanors that are more than seven years old. Pennsylvania is not one of these states: PA currently has no laws or regulations in place that stipulate a lookback period restriction for criminal history checks. As such, Pennsylvania employers can technically consider felonies or misdemeanors no matter how old the convictions are.
However, Pennsylvania law does stipulate that employers can only consider convictions “to the extent to which they relate to the applicant's suitability for employment in the position for which he [or she] has applied.” In other words, employers must determine how relevant a conviction is to an open position. An older conviction with no repeat convictions since may not be justifiably relevant to the position at hand based on how long ago it occurred. Employers should also consider the nature and severity of the conviction and whether it relates directly to the responsibilities of the job.
Regarding how long a criminal background check is good for, employers should be vigilant about establishing a policy for re-checking existing employees. No matter how thorough it is, a criminal background check could fall out of date on the same day the report comes back.
A report is a snapshot of an individual’s criminal history at a specific moment. If you run a background check on a job candidate today and he or she is arrested on suspicion of murder tomorrow, you would know nothing about that occurrence without re-checking in place. Running repeat background checks—whether every year, two years, or five years—allows your business to keep up to date on whether employee criminal records have changed.
For an easy solution, use our ongoing criminal monitoring service at backgroundchecks.com. This service runs your employees’ names through our US OneSEARCH database every month. If there are any new developments to your employee’s record since last month—be it a warrant, a pending charge, a new misdemeanor or felony conviction, or joining the state sex offender registry—we will notify you immediately. We’re also happy to run a new Pennsylvania state background check on any one of your employees if you wish to do so. If you have any questions about either of these criminal background check services, contact us today.
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is Chief Marketing Technologist at EY-VODW.com and has over two decades of experience in digital consulting, online product management, and technology innovation. He is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments.