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What Employers Need to Do: Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 3/24/2020

It’s a question that virtually every employer has asked at one point or another: what do I need to do regarding employee background checks? Designing an effective, appropriate, and compliant background screening strategy for your organization is crucial not just for ensuring that you are hiring the right people but also for avoiding lawsuits for breaching federal law, state statutes, or local ordinances.

To start, take a look at “Background Screening 101”. This resource provides a near-comprehensive rundown of what an employment-related background check can include, from tiers of criminal history screenings to verification checks for resume information.

At backgroundchecks.com, we offer a range of different background screening products, making it easy for employers to tailor their screening policies to suit their needs. For instance, if you are hiring for a behind-the-counter position, you won’t need to conduct a driving history background check, but you will need that screening for a delivery driver job. Our a la carte system allows you to add different checks as you need them.

Familiarize yourself with laws and guidelines that dictate what you can do with background checks. Nationwide, the biggest factors to consider are the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The FCRA requires employers to observe certain consumer (or job candidate) rights throughout the screening process. EEOC guidance is intended to combat “disparate impact” in background checks—intended or unintended biases against minority groups or other protected classes.

Most organizations know to follow these legal guidelines with their employee background checks, but the process becomes more complicated regarding state and local laws. Ban the box policies are spreading fast that prohibit employers from asking questions about criminal history on job applications, and sometimes delay background checks until later in the vetting process. Employers might overlook the latest developments in local or state background check law, which can lead to legal compliance issues. A recent article in the New York Law Journal advised employers in New York City and throughout the state to review their background check policies and make sure that their approach hasn’t become illegal since the last update.

Another factor that employers must consider is the thoroughness of their background checks. Controversy surrounds fingerprint background checks and whether they are superior to other types of checks. In truth, traditional background checks—such as checks based on names, birthdates, and Social Security Numbers—are just as thorough as fingerprint checks. A recent fingerprint database breach has also ignited a conversation about the sensitivity of this data.

At backgroundchecks.com, we are happy to help you devise a policy for employee background checks that meets your company’s needs while ensuring compliance. Contact us today to begin.


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