Have you ever wondered what’s included in the employment background check processes and why employers conduct them? Some employers run a background check before hiring employees, and some conduct them after they hire candidates.
But What Is an Employment Background Check ?
Employers conduct a background check to review an individual criminal, commercial, financial, and employment records. However, when employers hire a third party to check an individual’s background, the FCRA or Fair Credit Reporting Act regulates what they can check and how to do it. The FCRA is legislation that regulates how consumer information is used in various scopes, such as employment and loan applications.
This article will talk about the things that you are allowed and NOT allowed to look into as you check an applicant’s background.
Before you conduct a background check on anyone through a third party, you must first notify the individual in writing and get their written authorization.
However, if you’re planning to induct a background check on your own, you do not necessarily need their consent to do so (although it would seem more professional to get their consent verbally). For instance, you no longer need to ask permission if you will call the applicant’s previous employer. In other terms, legal notification is only necessary if a third-party company conducts the screening.
Moreover, if you decide not to hire the employee because of the report results, you must provide the applicant with a pre-adverse action disclosure. This must include an explanation of the applicant’s rights as well as a copy of the report. The notice must also include why you’ve decided not to hire the person and the contact information of the third-party company that conducted the screening so that they can dispute the report.
What You Can Check
Employers can check a wide range of information about potential employees, including their work history and social security number. You can also check information such as credit score, criminal records, driving records, compensation, court records, medical history, property ownership, military records, bankruptcy, and many more.
In general, employers only check the information they need to see if the applicant is suitable for the job. For example, if you are hiring a bank teller, it would be reasonable to see if the applicant has any history of theft or embezzlement. In addition, the comprehensiveness of the background check will depend on you, the company’s principles, and the position to be filled for. In most cases, the higher the position, the more thorough the screening should be.
What You Can’t Check
Some details should not be divulged under any circumstances. These can include:
- civil suits and civil judgments,
- paid tax liens after seven years,
- bankruptcies after a decade, and
- accounts for collection after seven years
However, it’s important to note that these restrictions are only applicable for salaries below $75,000. Here are other records you might not be able to check when doing your due diligence:
- Military and School Records: While employers can look into specific school records, you can only have access to it if you have consent. School records are strictly confidential, and without authorization, employers will not be allowed to get such information. Similarly, military records are confidential as well and can only be shared under particular circumstances. However, the military can increase some information, including name, salary, rank, awards, and assignments, with the individual’s consent.
- Bankruptcy: Information about bankruptcies is easy to obtain because they are a public record. However, an applicant should not be discriminated against because of bankruptcy.
- Criminal Records: Background check regulations may vary from state to state. Some states restrict questioning applicants about convictions or arrests at a certain point in the past. Other states allow deliberation of criminal history for specific positions only.
- Medical History: An employee’s health can affect his performance at work. That is why some employers try to obtain their medical records. However, employers should not base solely on the applicant’s disability. But if a person’s specific condition will block his ability to perform specific tasks, an employer might decide not to hire the talent.
Asking the Applicant to Prepare
It’s a common courtesy to inform the applicant about the upcoming screening you intend to conduct. That way, they can prepare themselves and secure specific data. In many cases, they can prepare by doing the following:
- Obtaining their credit report
- Checking their records (medical, school, military, or court records)
- Reviewing their files (references, owned properties, etc.)
- Safeguard private information (divorce, social media pages, online presence)
Many applicants try to practice honesty as much as possible. But of course, you need to ensure that you are hiring the right person for a specific job. Background checking an individual can help you identify if they are capable of performing tasks and that they will tarnish your company’s reputation.