More Employers Plan to Implement Continuous Background Checks for Safety

By Michael Klazema on 7/26/2018

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'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. 

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    Replacing an inconsistent array of procedures, Ontario's government has passed into law a reform act intended to clarify how police departments should handle requests for information to be used in background checks. 

  • November 14 The federal government has vowed to cut its backlog of security clearance background checks in half by spring. Currently, the backlog is approximately 600,000 names strong.
  • November 08 A Texas-based company was found to be supplying landlords with inaccurate background check results, potentially affecting housing decisions. The company must pay a record-setting settlement.
  • November 07 Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt brand trusts to perform the crucial function of background checks on job candidates before extending offers of employment.
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  • November 06 If you have a series of speeding tickets or other traffic violations, do you need to disclose them as criminal history?
  • November 01 South Carolina's legislature recently adopted a measure to expand access to expungement opportunities for the state's ex-convicts, but other gaps in the process remain. Advocates disagree on how to address the problem to protect offenders as well as the public.
  • October 31 Background checks will show different things depending on the type of check. Here are a few ways employers can use background checks to learn about candidates.
  • October 30 The Pentagon recently disclosed a breach that exposed the personal information of roughly 30,000 personnel. The government blamed the breach on a contractor, calling into question background check policies for federal government vendors.