A few weeks ago, all the news agencies were reporting on a shooting at a facility in Illinois. The gunman was being terminated and he opened fire and killed 5 people, including the HR Director and an HR Intern. Our hearts and prayers went out to the victims as we followed this story.
After several days it became clear that the individual who perpetrated the violence had a record and was a known felon. The question now in my mind, did the individual undergo a background check and if so, what did it reveal? According to news reports, the individual did not pass a background check to purchase a firearm – yet he was still able to do so.
What about an employment background check? It seems that several prior convictions were not noted on his company background check – so he was hired – 15 years ago. It could be that background checks at that time were not as extensive as they can be today. And, many companies only did basic checks then as they didn’t want to be combative or “illegal”.
Many HR people were told to only ask the basic or only give the basic – confirm name, dates of hire, date of termination, and salary. You were lucky if you got any additional information! The feeling then was that you could not unfairly ruin an individual’s chance for a job by providing a bad review so many companies only went through the motions.
Today, it still seems to be a tightrope act to do a background check. When do you do it? How do you do it? What questions need to be answered? What kind of information can you give (if you are being asked)? What do you do if a background check is bad?
From what I have found out, the good news is that 75% of businesses are conducting background checks on new hires. Also, businesses and HR departments are more conscious of the need for background checks and how to manage the process. For example, they know:
- Not to ask for medical or genetic information, as it is illegal to ask questions about medical or genetic information.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that a person cannot be denied employment based on a criminal record alone. Instead, the decision to hire or not must be based on a “business necessity,” which requires the employer to consider: the nature and gravity of the offense or offenses; the time that has passed since the conviction and or completion of the sentence; the nature of the job held or sought.
- Some states specifically prohibit the use of pre-employment credit checks unless the employer can prove its relevance to the job.
- Applicants turned down for a job on the basis of a credit check are entitled to a copy of the credit report used in the decision, in addition to an explanation of the right to challenge it.
- If the employer thinks it might not hire or retain a candidate because of something in the report, they must give a copy of the report and a “notice of rights” that tells the candidate how to contact the company that made the report. This allows the candidate the opportunity to make sure there is no error in the background report.
All of this is good, but it is also time consuming if you are doing the background check yourself. I find that while it may be important to double check personal references and even follow up to HR departments listed on the application, a thorough background check done by a reputable company is not only time saving but also well worth the expense of the service. Remember, the cost of hiring wrong can be costly to the company – up to 75% of the annual salary to replace them – so a background check can reduce that liability if done correctly.
Businesses that don’t use background checks when hiring new employees are putting themselves at risk. When a new employee who hasn’t been properly vetted is hired, employers are basically welcoming a stranger into their business – someone who may have access to clients, products, facilities, etc. Although a simple background check might not tell you how hard job candidates would work if hired, it can give some insight into their character by giving you an idea of how much you can trust them.
It can also offer a red flag to the employer if the person is being less than honest on their resume or job application- and as we all probably know, people do lie on the resume or application.
So, the determination is “What service to use”. When you’re choosing a service, it is important to talk with the background check provider to make sure it conducts all of the screenings your business requires. Do your due diligence and check out what services are provided and are they compliant with your specific state or local regulations. Ask for a demo and make sure they actually do what you need them to do.
My job, as the owner of an HRIS, has put me in touch with various services. In doing my due diligence, I have discovered (and work with) TransUnion Shareable for Hires’. You can check me out at https://hires.shareable.com/effortlesshr.
But, I would like to share a few tips and reasons why I chose to work with them:
- TransUnion data shows that nearly 1-4 reports contain a criminal record
- ShareAble for Hires scours 370+ million national and state criminal records
- Criminal reports glean from the Most Wanted databases, the Sex offender public registry, and criminal databases from 46 states
- ShareAble for Hires verifies the applicant’s identity with matching logic to assure that the reports you review are the correct ones
And, some of the benefits include:
- ShareAble for Hires is fast – reports are delivered in minutes – no waiting in line at the DMV, going to a Sherriff’s department
- ShableAble for Hires is FCRA compliant
- Reports available for viewing online 24/7
- Data maintained in compliance with FCRA and applicable state and local laws
Bottom line – save yourself and your company time and money and make sure you have done a reliable, comprehensive, consistent background check on all your new hires.