Employment Screening – Pre-Employment Background Checks and why US Businesses use Criminal Background Checks

In the USA today more and more businesses are starting to perform routine background checks on their new hires to avoid hiring someone that may possess a threat to their company’s work environment.  This makes a good deal of sense for most organizations as most standard US Businesses are not interested in hiring convicted felons as many convicted felons repeat their past actions and this time could repeat them at their place of work.

Employment Screening helps eliminate uncertainties in the hiring process, provides due diligence and helps pick the best suited applicant for the job.  Running a social security search and criminal background check in the hiring process helps prevent negligent hiring lawsuits and promotes an atmosphere of safety for all employees.  In this day and age, an employer has an obligation to maintain a safe working environment for all its employees, and performing certain background checks before hiring helps achieve this. Employers who actively screen their applicants before hiring also face less liability in the event of a workplace accident or crime. Pre-employment screening is a primary way of eliminating or minimizing negligent hiring liability.  Negligent hiring lawsuits have found many employers responsible for their employees’ actions even when an employee is not working at the time of the crime. Negligent hiring lawsuits have cost companies millions of dollars, and have even pushed some companies into bankruptcy. If protecting your company and your employees are important, implementing a solid, consistent employment screening solution is the only way to go.

Employment screening can be a practical, affordable way to significantly reduce employee theft, harassment and dishonesty along with notably increasing work productivity and safety. Certain industries demand background/employment checks on all employees; including the banking, financial, and security industries.  Criminal checks are also required for those working in positions with special security concerns, such as trucking, ports of entry, and airline transportation. Other laws exist to prevent those who do not pass a criminal check from working in careers involving the elderly, disabled, or children.  More and more industries are requiring background checks.  These industries include the transportation, childcare, healthcare, education, and law enforcement industries. The level of background investigation varies from industry to industry and position to position. Running a past employment check and criminal history check are important because they allow better informed and less-subjective evaluations to be made about a person, but also pose noticeable risks, including rejecting an applicant because of an arrest record even though the charges were dropped and there was no conviction.  The risks are clear and include improper and illegal discrimination, identity theft, and violation of personal privacy.  Pre-employment screening is used to verify the accuracy of an applicant’s claims (usually as stated on their application and what they say verbally in interviews) as well as to discover any possible criminal history or other red flags that may make the applicant not suitable for the job.

Many employers choose to search the most common reports available such as criminal records, driving records, and education verifications as part of there pre employment screening process. Other tools such as sex offender registry checks, credential verifications, reference checks, and credit reports are becoming increasingly more common in employment screening processes. Employers should consider the position in question when determining which types of searches are appropriate and relevant.  It is important to note that employers should always use the same background searches & screening methodology for every applicant being considered for a position.  In the USA today, fair hiring practice includes “employment screening consistency” which means everything in the eyes of the law.

Example of why an industry uses criminal checks
An industry that currently utilizes criminal background checks within their business practice is staffing companies.  A staffing company relies heavily on reputation for providing well qualified non criminal offenders to the attention of hiring company’s. If they provide an individual with a history of sexual harassment to a company, and that individual gets hired (based on the recommendation of the staffing agency) and then sexually harasses a co-worker in the new work place, you can bet that company won’t use that staffing agency again!  Not to mention the negligent hiring lawsuit that may ensue afterwards.  By not doing their due diligence and running a background check, (which would have revealed criminal history and prevented the situation) the staffing company fails in its core business, hurts another company, and looses a customer.

Other business uses for criminal data being used in the USA today are in the collections industry.  As far as collections agencies are concerned, they want to know if someone on their collections list is in jail as an inmate or in a state where pursuing collection of a debt would be futile and a waste of company resources.  So running criminal background checks in general is becoming more and more common and the background industry as a whole is experiencing enormous growth and you can expect custom criminal background solutions for specific industries to materialize as time moves forward.

Current Concerns in the Employment Screening Arena
Some people are not concerned about background investigations, while others are uncomfortable with the idea of investigators snooping around in their personal backgrounds.  Some background checks could reveal information that is irrelevant, taken out of context, or just plain wrong.  A deeper anxiety is that the report might include information that is illegal to use for hiring purposes (such as arrest records) or which come from questionable sources or outdated databases.  Teaming up with a credible criminal records provider is crucial to any employment screening solution that uses criminal history reports in its screening process.  And remember, criminals are not a protected class in the USA, however, some reports that claim to be criminal reports contain information such as arrest records that cannot be used as part of a decision to hire or fire an employee, so ultimately in today’s business world the final responsibility of how to use and interpret these reports fall on the employer.

Conclusion in Summary
Running a criminal background check before you hire a new employee can save your company from unnecessary headaches, legal costs and lost production time. With repeat criminal offenders applying for work, there is no excuse for most company’s not to run a simple background check to see if the applicant is a convicted rapist, on parole, or on the FBI’s most wanted list.  Criminal background checks are more affordable and available then ever before, offering amongst other benefits shorter turnaround times (with most searches taking only minutes to complete).  They no longer take weeks to perform or cost hundreds of dollars to run, so if you want to keep your employees as safe as you can, running a criminal background check as part of your hiring process makes sound business policy. Conducting a criminal background check, verifying education history, performing reference checks, and verifying the employment history and current status of an applicant are all important steps in due diligence for pre-employment screening.

Before hiring someone we recommend doing the following:

Criminal History Check
Run a criminal background check at least in the county and/or state the applicant currently lives in.  If you can afford to pay a little more, run a national background check which can cover most of the country (be careful to check the states covered in the national search as it won’t do you any good running a national search if your applicant is from a state not included in the national background search).  Statewide and national criminal history checks usually include a free national sex offender check, so be sure to look for this in your search.

Employment Verification
Perform employment verifications on your potential hires/applicants.  Employment verifications are important as they can either substantiate or disprove the information given by a potential hire/applicant on their application form during the hiring process.  This can be done with a simple phone call or can be outsourced to a company that specializes in employment verifications.  Discovering your applicant’s previous and current employment status; including start dates, end dates, title, salary and eligibility for rehire is usually important to employer’s, however, depending on the job being applied for this may not matter at all.

Educational Background Checks & Professional Verifications
For positions requiring certain educational backgrounds or professional degrees you must get an educational background check and/or a professional reference check in order to substantiate the resume of these potential employees.  Education verifications help in determining an applicant’s qualifications for a specific job. If the education history of an applicant is important in your hiring decision, you need to perform an education verification. This can be done by contacting the education institution directly, (you will need approval documentation from the applicant to retrieve this information) or by paying a third party verification company to perform the service for you.  This service generally verifies University, dates of attendance, degree(s) received, and GPA.  Other background verifications include certification verifications, credentials checks and personal reference checks.  There are many companies who offer these types of verification services, and a simple online search will give you a list of them.  Typical costs are around $15 – $20 for a verification check.

Driving Records
For positions that require driving of a commercial vehicle, employers in the transportation sector seek drivers with clean driving records.  A clean driving record most often means a driving history with no accidents or traffic tickets.  There are many companies who offer DMV or driving records, and a simple online search will produce many sources for this information.

Start your employment screening now and order a pre-employment criminal record check.  We recommend www.CriminalBackgroundRecords.com