Local Communities in Massachusetts Take Background Checks into Their Own Hands

By Michael Klazema on 10/1/2013
A law enabling towns to conduct fingerprint-based state and national background checks went into effect in Massachusetts in May of 2012. Since then, 15 communities have chosen to pass their own background check policies, in part to fill gaps in policies enacted by the state.

The town of Stoneham, Mass. is considering following suit. Their proposed background check rules would require ice cream truck drivers, door-to-door salesmen, and various representatives of out of town businesses that may come into contact with town residents to pass a fingerprint-based background check.

According to town officials in Stoneham, the goal is for their policy is to extend the protections already offered by state laws and make sure that the most vulnerable members of the community's kids and the elderly'sare protected from those who would do them harm.

For example, as of earlier this year, state law in Massachusetts requires all school workers and licensed childcare providers, as well as all individuals who regularly visit a property where childcare is provided, to undergo national background checks.

But what about chance visitors to the property such as a salesman or a repair man? Communities like Stoneham have identified these individuals as potential risks as well. By requiring these individuals to pass a background check such as US OneSEARCH from, town officials can prevent anyone with criminal convictions indicating a potential predisposition to commit new crimes from interacting with vulnerable populations as part of their jobs. US OneSEARCH is comprehensive, affordable, and returns results almost instantly.

Large corporations already require their door-to-door vendors to pass background checks. Stoneham's proposal will make sure that other smaller companies follow suit. Adopting a background check policy is often easier than implementing it. This has already been seen on the state level, as the new background check law for school and childcare workers has already missed its implementation goal. The checks were supposed to be enforced at the beginning of this current school year, but have now been pushed back to the end of year. By that time over 250,000 individuals should have been checked under the law.

As with any background check policy, there has to be a balance between detecting nefarious characters and protecting people's rights. Officials in Stoneham are aware of this, and may model their policy after a similar one in Wakefield, Mass. which provides for individuals to explain their criminal record and provide any relevant information that may convince officials not to exclude them from employment on the basis of their criminal convictions.


Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.

  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.

  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.