Employment Background Checks
Depending on your type of company or the type of position that the applicant is seeking, you may be required by law to conduct a background check. For example, positions working with children, the elderly, or people with disabilities require applicants to undergo a background check, as do positions in which the employee is granted certain security clearance.
But even if a background check is not mandatory, it may be in good practice to have one done on a prospective hire anyway. Employees make or break a business, no matter if it’s a small-town, family-owned hardware store or an international Fortune 500 corporation. So, for your own, your employees’, and your shareholders’ interests, you should find out what kind of person you’re bringing into your business.
“Companies want to conduct background checks on applicants to make sure they are qualified for the job, and to verify their information,” Jason Morris, president of EmployeeScreenIQ, said. “We have found that over 55% of people lie on their resumes.”
A background check will tell you a lot about the person you are considering for the job. However, keep in mind that the information you obtain and use must be in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which basically states that the information must be in the public record. All other information may not be used without consent, though you may want to get consent even before you check their public information, just to ensure you don’t face any legal charges.
“We obtain written consent from the applicant before we check anything, including public records,” Morris said. “After which, we are free to gather all the information we need.”
While there are varying degrees of employment background checks, the following information is the most commonly gathered:
- Identity Verification. People applying for a job under a false identity is a relatively common practice. A background check will verify an applicant’s identity and address to make sure they are who they claim to be, and that they are legally able to work in the U.S.
- Criminal History. If someone has a history of theft, violence, or DWIs, is a registered sex offender, or even has just a single, minor infraction on their record, they may not disclose it to you during an interview. Knowing about a candidate’s criminal history is vital for the protection of your business and your other employees.
- Litigation Records. This will let you know how many lawsuits the candidate has filed. A candidate with a history of filing lawsuits against their former employers may be considered “sue-happy” and is just looking for a reason to sue their employer. This is something that you, as an employer, are going to want to be aware of.
- Education Records. This will verify the education status the applicant listed on their resume or application, and allow you to see the accreditation status of the college or university they attended, class ranking, and more. However, keep in mind that you’re required by law to have consent from the applicant before you can access their education records.
- Medical Records. As an employer, you are only allowed by law to find out whether or not the applicant will physically be able to perform the duties required for the job. There are very strict laws regarding access, confidentiality, and use of medical records to determine employment.
- Drug Test. A drug test will show you whether or not the applicant has drugs in their system. This can be used to determine several factors about them, such as their level of responsibility and safety, as well as their willingness to abide by the law.
- Worker’s Compensation Records. This will allow you to see if the candidate has a history of being injured on the job, and if they have sustained an injury that may prevent them from performing their duties.
- Employment History. This will allow you to verify that the employment history the applicant listed on their resume or application is true. You may also want to consider contacting their past employers to learn more about them.
Background checks are not only important because they let you learn about who you are hiring, but because they can also protect your company. In fact, hiring someone without doing a background check can be hazardous. For example, according to the California Construction Trucking Association, in the beginning of March 2012, Heyl Logistics lost a negligent hiring claim and had to pay $5.2 million to the family of a man killed by one of their contracted truck drivers, who was driving under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the collision. The company had failed to check into the company they hired drivers from, and that company had previously been charged with violations like failure to conduct drug testing on their drivers.
Hiring employees who are not legally able to work in this country can also cost your company a lot of money. According to CBS St. Louis, in October 2011, J&J Industrial Supply was busted employing 10 or more illegal aliens and had to forfeit $150,000, as well as a 2011 Toyota Highlander that was used to transport them.
Overall, it’s a good idea to go beyond the interview and conduct background checks on applicants before offering them a job, while being mindful of the federal and state laws that apply to information obtained through a background check. Know who you are hiring and protect your business.