Employment checks, also known as background checks, have become an essential part of the hiring process for many employers. With increasing concerns over workplace safety, financial fraud, and the potential for liability, employers need to ensure that they are making informed hiring decisions. In this article, we will discuss what employers need to know about employment checks.
What is an Employment Check?
An employment check is a type of background check that provides employers with information about a job candidate’s past work history, criminal record, credit history, and other relevant information. Employment checks are used to assess a candidate’s suitability for a job, verify their qualifications, and reduce the risk of workplace misconduct or liability.
Employment checks can be conducted by employers themselves or through a third-party background check company. They can range from a simple reference check to a comprehensive investigation that includes criminal record checks, credit checks, and other types of screening.
Why are Employment Checks Important?
Employment checks are important for several reasons. First, they help employers make informed hiring decisions by providing them with a comprehensive picture of a candidate’s background and qualifications. This can help reduce the risk of hiring someone who is not qualified for the job, or who may pose a risk to the company or its employees.
Second, employment checks can help reduce the risk of workplace misconduct and liability. By screening candidates for criminal records, credit history, and other relevant information, employers can identify potential red flags that may indicate a higher risk of theft, fraud, or other types of misconduct. This can help protect the company from financial losses and legal liabilities.
Finally, employment checks can help ensure compliance with state and federal laws that govern the hiring process. Many industries are subject to specific regulations and requirements, and employers need to ensure that they are meeting those requirements when hiring new employees.
Types of Employment Checks
There are several types of employment checks that employers may use, depending on the position and industry. Some of the most common types of employment checks include:
- Criminal Record Checks: A criminal record check involves checking a candidate’s criminal history to identify any convictions, arrests, or pending charges. This can help employers identify potential risks and reduce the risk of workplace violence or other types of misconduct.
- Credit History Checks: A credit history check involves checking a candidate’s credit history to identify any financial red flags, such as a history of bankruptcy or high levels of debt. This can help employers assess a candidate’s financial responsibility and reduce the risk of theft or fraud.
- Education Verification: An education verification check involves checking a candidate’s education credentials, such as their degree and school attended, to ensure that they have the qualifications required for the job.
- Employment Verification: An employment verification check involves checking a candidate’s employment history to verify their work experience and identify any gaps or discrepancies.
- Professional License Verification: A professional license verification check involves checking a candidate’s professional licenses or certifications to ensure that they are qualified for the job and comply with industry regulations.
- Reference Checks: A reference check involves contacting a candidate’s references, such as previous employers or colleagues, to obtain additional information about their work history, skills, and qualifications.
Employers need to carefully consider which types of employment checks are necessary for the position and comply with state and federal laws regarding the use of background checks in employment decisions.
Employment checks are subject to various state and federal laws that govern the hiring process. Employers need to ensure that they comply with these laws to avoid legal liabilities and other issues.
Some of the legal considerations that employers should be aware of include:
Federal and state laws regarding discrimination: Employers need to ensure that their employment checks do not discriminate against candidates based on their race, ethnicity, gender, age, or other protected characteristics.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): The FCRA regulates the use of consumer reports, which include credit history checks and criminal record checks, in employment decisions. Employers must comply with specific requirements, such as obtaining written consent from the candidate, providing a copy of the report, and allowing the candidate to dispute any errors.
Ban the Box laws: Some states and cities have “ban the box” laws that prohibit employers from asking about a candidate’s criminal history on job applications. Employers must ensure that they comply with these laws, which may require delaying criminal record checks until later in the hiring process.
State-specific requirements: Some states have specific requirements regarding the use of background checks in employment decisions, such as limitations on the types of information that can be considered.
Employers need to stay up-to-date with these legal requirements and ensure that their employment checks comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
Best Practices for Employment Checks
To ensure that employment checks are conducted effectively and legally, employers should follow some best practices:
Create a clear policy: Employers should have a clear policy regarding the types of employment checks that will be conducted and the process for conducting them. The policy should comply with all applicable laws and regulations and be communicated to all candidates.
Obtain written consent: Employers should obtain written consent from candidates before conducting any employment checks. The consent form should be clear and provide information about the types of checks that will be conducted and how the information will be used.
Use a reputable background check company: If using a third-party background check company, employers should ensure that the company is reputable and complies with all applicable laws and regulations.
Consider the position and industry: Employers should consider the position and industry when deciding which types of employment checks to conduct. Certain positions may require more extensive checks, such as those in finance or healthcare.
Be consistent: Employers should ensure that employment checks are conducted consistently for all candidates to avoid claims of discrimination.
Employment checks are an essential part of the hiring process for many employers. They help employers make informed hiring decisions, reduce the risk of workplace misconduct and liability, and ensure compliance with state and federal laws. Employers need to carefully consider which types of employment checks are necessary for the position and comply with all applicable laws and regulations. By following best practices, employers can conduct employment checks effectively and legally and reduce the risk of legal liabilities and other issues.