Criminal record checks have become an increasingly important part of employment screening in recent years. Many employers use criminal background checks as a way to assess a job candidate’s potential risk to the company and ensure a safe workplace. In this article, we will explore the importance of criminal record checks in employment screening, including the benefits and potential drawbacks.
What is a Criminal Record Check?
A criminal record check, also known as a criminal background check, is a type of background check that examines a job candidate’s criminal history. The criminal record check typically looks at the candidate’s criminal record, which provides information about any criminal convictions, arrests, or charges.
Why do Employers Use Criminal Record Checks?
Employers use criminal record checks for several reasons. First and foremost, they use them as a way to assess a candidate’s potential risk to the company. If a candidate has a history of criminal activity, particularly crimes that are relevant to the position, an employer may view them as a risk to the company’s safety or reputation.
Second, employers use criminal record checks as a way to comply with state and federal regulations. In some industries, such as healthcare or education, employers are required to conduct criminal record checks on certain positions to comply with regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Finally, employers may use criminal record checks as a way to reduce liability in the event of an incident. If an employer hires an individual with a history of violent or criminal behavior and that individual causes harm to others, the employer may be held liable for negligent hiring.
The Pros of Using Criminal Record Checks
There are several benefits to using criminal record checks in employment screening:
Assessing Potential Risk: Criminal record checks can provide employers with valuable information about a candidate’s potential risk to the company. This can be particularly important for positions that involve working with vulnerable populations, handling sensitive information, or working with valuable assets.
Complying with Regulations: In some industries, employers are required by law to conduct criminal record checks on certain positions to comply with regulations such as HIPAA.
Reducing Liability: By conducting criminal record checks, employers can reduce their liability in the event of an incident.
The Cons of Using Criminal Record Checks
Despite the benefits of using criminal record checks, there are also some potential drawbacks:
Discrimination Concerns: There is a concern that criminal record checks may disproportionately impact certain groups, such as minorities or individuals from low-income backgrounds. Some states have even passed laws limiting the use of criminal record checks in employment decisions.
Limited Predictive Value: Some critics argue that criminal record checks have limited predictive value when it comes to job performance or the risk of workplace incidents. They argue that there is no clear evidence that criminal record checks are an effective predictor of job performance or workplace safety.
Invasion of Privacy: Some individuals may feel that criminal record checks are an invasion of privacy, particularly if the criminal record check is conducted without their consent or knowledge.
How to Use Criminal Record Checks Effectively
If an employer decides to use criminal record checks as part of their employment screening process, there are several best practices they can follow to ensure that they are using them effectively:
Use Criminal Record Checks Only When Necessary: Employers should use criminal record checks only when they are necessary for the position or required by law. They should carefully consider whether a criminal record check is truly necessary and ensure that it is not used to discriminate against candidates.
Consider the Relevance of the Criminal Record: Employers should consider the relevance of the criminal record to the position. If a candidate has a criminal record but the offense is not relevant to the position, it may not be necessary to disqualify the candidate based on that information.