Even with the nascent ban the box movement limiting some employers’ ability to ask about an applicant's criminal history early in the hiring process, background checks remain an integral part of candidate selection for many companies. As movements like #MeToo trigger concerns about the quality of the existing workforce's character, employers have begun to wonder if their current policies are sufficient. The result is an increase in the number of businesses undertaking routine background checks to monitor existing employees for new red flags.
Continuous screening is not a new process. For some employees, such as healthcare professionals and those handling sensitive financial transactions, a re-screening process has been standard for years. Per the LA Times, even retailers have begun to implement periodic background checks to maintain a trustworthy workforce. With digitized records and results available at a far more rapid pace, it is now considered easier and wiser to implement routine screening than it was in the past.
The genesis for this change has its roots in broader shifts in the business world. The growth of ban the box rules, especially those that encourage private employers to consider applicants with a record, is one contributing factor. A business owner who chooses to hire someone with a conviction may choose to stick to the precept of "trust, but verify." Bringing them aboard offers the benefits of giving a good worker a second chance but requiring semi-regular checks can still help an employer avoid issues in the future.
The emergence of the gig economy and the popularity of independent contracting for companies such as Uber have also played a role. In the wake of high-profile criminal incidents, there is public pressure on many organizations to do more to minimize the potential for harm. It was only recently that Uber began to implement annual screenings and monitor its drivers for new instances of criminal behavior. With these changes, companies that may have previously only conducted one check may wonder if annual screenings should be a priority for their employees, too.
While annual screening can provide a clear snapshot of a company's staff, it is not a cure-all that can prevent any problems from arising. Problematic behavior in the workplace, for example, may occur with or without a prior criminal history. It is important to keep in mind that while a nationwide criminal search like backgroundchecks.com's US OneSEARCH can return very important data, it is not the final word in judging an individual's character.
For employees, these new procedures make it more important to know and understand what may appear on your background report, too. As this trend develops, the balancing act between fairness, compliance, and safety must continue.