January 29, 2014

The Case for Background Checks

Ten years ago in this market, it was not common for companies to require drug tests and background checks. Today, 95 percent of employers require background checks, partially due to the workplace theft, violence and negligent hiring litigation. There are other “softer” factors in play: negative effects on morale and performance; the loss of reputation; and the damage done to an employment brand when poor candidates are hired. These factors do come into play in the competitions for recruiting and retaining A players.

They Should Be Part of Your Hiring Process

Typically, you can find a service to perform the related tasks for less than $100 per candidate depending on the level of background check and whether it is multistate or national.

How to do it legally

Overall process - Take into account these steps: 1) a candidate has to sign off on the fact that you will be doing this check; 2) interview the candidate; 3) extend the job offer first to avoid discrimination and state, “As a condition of employment you must agree to run a background check”;  4) Have a policy and procedure; and  5)  if there is a contrary decision, the candidate/employee has to be notified.

Background Checks – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has ruled that refusing to hire individuals based on criminal convictions disproportionately excludes applicants of certain minority groups. If an applicant has a record of a conviction, the EEOC urges employers to consider the nature and seriousness of the offense, the relationship of the offense to the job and the length of time that has passed since conviction or incarceration.

Credit Checks – Effective Oct. 1, 2013, the State of Nevada is implementing limitations to employers conducting credit checks on employees or applicants. “Employers may not directly or indirectly obtain a consumer credit report or other credit information from an applicant or employee as a condition of employment. Employers are further restricted from using, accepting, referring to or inquiring about a credit report or credit information.” There are exceptions: required/authorized under state or federal law; the employer reasonably believes employee/applicant engaged in specific activity that may constitute a violation of state or federal law; or if the credit report is reasonably related to the position.

How to use the information for employment decisions

A background check is a starting point, one of many things that should be factored into a hire. There is always a black, white and grey line. That grey line may not only be giving someone a second chance, but may also turn out to be one of the best hires you will ever make.

Written by Jim Annis, President/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Tom Miller, and Suzanne Chennault, Applied’s division directors, contributed to this article. 

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