Employment Screening: Tips for Employers
Hiring new employees often requires looking into the background of applicants to determine if they are qualified for the position. While many employers run a background check on potential workers, screening is a delicate process that requires careful handling to avoid discrimination or negligent hiring claims. Keeping a few tips in mind will ensure that federal and state laws are properly followed while potential problems are minimized.
Learn the Laws
State and federal laws are the first place to determine what is appropriate to look into and what is not. Understanding all of the laws that apply to background checks and screening processes for employers is a vital part of ensuring that claims against discrimination are eliminated.
The federal laws are clear about what employers can ask applicants and what they are not allowed to inquire into. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that employers cannot ask about arrest records. While the federal law prohibits inquiries into arrests, the government does not prevent inquiries into convictions. Employers can ask about convictions and may look into the public records related to criminal convictions.
While federal laws do not specify types of conviction inquiries, employers must also understand the state laws that apply to hiring and employment. State laws vary and often add to the federal laws for further protection against potential discrimination.
State laws will sometimes prevent employers from inquiring or looking into sealed, impounded or similar convictions. Many states will also only allow employers to look into criminal history records for seven years, which limits that amount of information available. While the records are only available for a set time period, most states allow employers to ask applicants whether the individual has ever been convicted of a crime.
Set Consistent Standards
Employers who are hiring need to have a set standard for screening all employees. In some situations, additional verification might be necessary for a particular type of job and the additional screening should apply to all applicants for the position.
Consistent standards will prevent claims of discrimination because all of the employees undergo the same rigorous screening and background check. Consistency is the key to ensuring that all of the potential applicants are treated fairly.
State the Screening Policy
Setting a standard makes it easier to give out the information of what the employer looks into before hiring new workers. Stating the policy clearly in the application paperwork or before starting the screening process allows applicants to decide if they are willing to continue pursuing the position or not. It also helps ensure that information on the application or resume is accurate and complete.
A screening policy that is clearly outlined and stated for the general public and all applicants ensures that claims against discrimination and negligent hiring are eliminated. This ensures that any acts of violence against customers do not make the employer accountable via negligent hiring. It also prevents discrimination charges because the employees all understand the policy before the screening begins.
Gain Appropriate Permission
Depending on the particular job, a background check might require verification of education or a credit check. In many cases, it is necessary to gain appropriate permission from the applicant before looking into the data. This is a matter of personal privacy and employers should always ask for permission via written consent before following through on this data.
Learning About the Ability to Work
A screening process can include looking into worker’s compensation, as it is a matter of public record, but employers should only include this element in their screening processes if a concern about the ability to perform the work arises. Employers can legally ask whether the individual is physically able to perform the job responsibilities in positions that require manual labor.
While employers can look into worker’s compensation records, it is not legal to ask for medical records or look into medical records. This is a matter of privacy, confidentiality and discrimination. If the position requires the ability to perform specific physical tasks, then employers can ask on the applicant if the individual is physically able to perform the job.
Screening employees is an important part of the hiring process, but employers need to use caution during the background check. With the appropriate measures in place, the risk of facing problems like negligent hiring charges or discrimination charges is minimized. As an employer, it is important to properly manage the employment screening process before starting any hiring processes.