Criminal Background Checks: What Every Employer Needs To Know


The success of your company depends on employing the right people, but it’s not always simple when you consider what can happen if you hire the wrong candidate. Obviously, there are financial implications as well as effects on business continuity.

A lousy hire might cost up to five times their annual income, according to research by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). When background checks are done correctly, they can protect you from being exposed to careless hiring.

Criminal background checks for employment can help you make educated decisions when it comes to recruiting new personnel, but before you decide to make them a regular part of the hiring process.

Do It Yourself Or Hire A Professional?

In-house screening can be done but it requires a lot of resources and manpower. A professional screening company is equipped with up-to-date equipment and processes to gain accurate information and data.

Companies that perform pre-employment background checks provide a variety of screening options. Within a few days, they verify crucial aspects of a person’s background using a number of search tactics, including in-person courthouse visits and online databases.

Instantaneous results are available on some websites online, but use caution because some of these cannot be utilized legally for pre-employment purposes.

You must work with a company that abides by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  The FCRA specifies the requirements for conducting background checks, including getting the candidate’s permission to do the investigation and giving them access to the findings.

The most common background screenings are:

  • Address validation
  • Social security number traces
  • Felony and misdemeanor record searches at national, state and country levels
  • Civil record checks
  • Searches in the sex offender registry

Common additional screenings are:

  • Education verification
  • Employment verification
  • Employment credit reports
  • License verification
  • Motor vehicle records
  • Reference checks
  • Workers’ compensation history searches
  • Military records verification
  • Drug screenings
  • Health care sanction checks

Employers can request background checks and examine the finished results online thanks to a cloud-based system used by the majority of businesses. Typically, agencies charge by the report and take one to five days to finish a search. You have the choice of working with a company that offers set programs, a la carte options, or both.

An employment background check does not have a set cost in the industry; the cost is determined by the searches you require. Most background investigation companies charge by the report.

Numerous tests and checks are available under one plan from certain businesses, while others only provide them as individual services. Typically, the companies that offer preset background screening plans offer a few different tiers of packages.

Know Your Legal Requirements

FCRA, Fair Credit Reporting Act: When a third party runs background checks on behalf of an employer, the FCRA is in effect to regulate the use of consumer credit reports and investigative consumer reports. Investigative consumer reporting crosses over into questions about job performance.

In addition to the verifications of the public record sources generally contained in a conventional consumer report, an investigative consumer report sometimes adds character references or personal comments. Before seeking a credit report, the proper written disclosure and candidate notification for this sort of inquiry, as required by the FCRA, should be given.

FACT Act or FACTA, Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act: The secure disposal of consumer credit information is governed, among other things, by the FACT Act, which amends the FCRA.

EEO, Equal employment opportunity laws: Employers must take precautions to ensure that background checks adhere to all relevant EEO legislation. There is a chance that relying solely on background checks could lead to discrimination.

IRCA, Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986: With the exception of undocumented immigrants, IRCA forbids discrimination against employers with four or more employees based on national origin or citizenship. IRCA gave rise to the Form I-9 employment verification procedure, and while this verification happens after hiring, it’s crucial to note that candidates’ citizenship or national origin cannot be used against them if learned prior to hiring.

Avoid Discrimination

–          EEOC:

The EEOC upholds federal laws that forbid discrimination in private, state and local government, and federal sector enterprises, on the basis of race and national origin.

When deciding who to hire, employers may take criminal histories into account. Employers cannot, however, discriminate against employees based on their race or country of origin. For instance, a company cannot recruit white men with similar criminal histories who are equally qualified or less competent than qualified black men with the same convictions.

If an employer uses criminal histories in hiring decisions, they should determine if the record is applicable to the position. A person’s criminal history and how it relates to the dangers and obligations of employment can be taken into consideration by an employer. The following factors should be taken into account by the employer:

  • The kind and degree of the crime or offense
  • The amount of time that has gone since the crime or completion of the sentence, and
  • The nature of the position
  • Ban-The-Box Laws:

Employers are not allowed to inquire about candidates’ criminal histories on the initial application for employment under any ban-the-box regulations. However, other laws go a step further and forbid asking about criminal background until after an interview or before making a conditional job offer.

In California, for instance, businesses are required to do a multi-factored review of each applicant to determine whether a criminal past justifies rejecting employment. Additionally, if an employer chooses to refuse employment based on a criminal background, it is required to provide the applicant notice and the chance to present evidence that minimises the severity of the conviction.

Disposing Of Background Information

  • FTC:

You may discard any background reports you obtained once you’ve complied with all relevant recordkeeping requirements. The reports and any information you obtain from them must, however, be disposed of securely in accordance with the law. It can also mean disposing of electronic data in a way that prevents it from being read or rebuilt, such as pulverizing, shredding paper documents or burning.

Be Aware Of State Background Check Laws

State Laws

Different state laws may overlap with some of the pertinent federal laws. States may have additional regulations with regard to:

  • Obtaining a consumer credit report.
  • Illegal immigration control.
  • Retaining documents.
  • Protecting information.

Prior to making a job offer, criminal records are checked. For detailed compliance information, employers must review the state legislation in the jurisdictions where they hire employees.

Background checks for prospective hires and current workers are an essential component of conducting business as organizations attempt to maintain a safe and secure environment for their assets, employees, and customers. Proactively conducting checks lowers the possibility of employee-related damages.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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