How long does it take to conduct background checks?
In normal circumstances, background checks should get completed in less than five business days. But, on an average it takes between 24 to 72 business hours to complete. The longer the check takes to finish, there is a greater risk of losing the candidate as it shows that their information couldn’t be verified swiftly.
Who should be checked?
There are certain organizations that choose to perform background checks on each and every employee working with them. This makes their hiring process more consistent and guides the hiring managers in making wise hiring decision. But, at a minimal level organizations should conduct background checks on candidates who:
- Work with the elderly, children or disabled;
- Have to handle money;
- Have the access to the financial information of the organization;
- Have work inside private homes;
- Drive vehicles for others;
- Work in security positions.
Who performs the background checks?
Several employers actively participate in the process of conducting some form of employment background check. Every employer needs to determine the different components that they need to include in the background checks to be performed on their candidates. They also need to determine whether they want to conduct the process themselves or take the assistance of a professional background screening vendor.
The nature of the employer’s business and the role to be filled can be guiding factors that employers consider while determining what to include in a background check. There are certain employers who simply conduct a criminal record history check of their candidates while others may also verify employment and education history amongst others. It has been observed that regulated industries including transportation and health care are more strict when it comes to screening and testing requirements which are laid out with different laws. For example; certain health care workers are subject to specific license verifications and sanctions lists checks required by state, federal and industry regulations.
Is it important to get approval from the candidate before initiating the background screening process?
Yes, it is important for you to get the written consent from the candidates before ordering the background check from a CRA. The reason being according to the FCRA, candidates have legal rights which are protected by federal and some state laws that mandate employers not to run background checks without the candidate’s permission. This is done primarily to protect the organization so that candidates do not sue the employer after getting the report. It also assures that the background check is conducted by taking into consideration the privacy of the candidate, which makes the background screening company to remain within the parameters of compliance laws.
It is also done to ensure that you do not take the employment decision which is based on discrimination of age, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, genetic information or race. The primary objective is to ensure that every candidate is treated equally when it comes to taking an informed hiring decision.
Which laws regulate the employment screening process in the US?
In the US, you need to comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s 2012 enforcement guidance on the use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions, state consumer reporting laws, and state and local ban-the-box ordinances while conducting the employment screening process.
Should I conduct employment screening before or after making a job offer?
There are different times when conducting a background check can give best results and this is totally dependent on an organization’s requirement and processes.
- Request the candidate to fill out an application and a separate document when they submit their resume and take their permission to run the screening.
- If you are going to conduct more than one round of interview during the hiring process, start the screening before inviting the candidate for the final round of interviews.
- When you are going to conduct only a single interview, inform the candidate that the job offer is provisional and dependent on the results of the background check. It is also important to get a written consent from the candidate in the form of a separate document apart from the job application.
What is an adverse action?
In the hiring process, adverse action means that an employer is considering not to hire a candidate or that they may withdraw an offer on the basis of the consumer reports generated. The process for an adverse action is very simple. First of all, a pre-adverse action is sent by the employer. It includes a legal notice that a discrete information in the report has led to a possible adverse action. The notice must include:
- Step by step process of initiating the dispute process;
- The process of providing additional information;
- A copy of the background check report;
- An FCRA notice;
- Other state related attachments if applicable.
If the candidate does not respond to the notice within a specific period of time (normally a week) then a final or post adverse notice is sent to the candidate. Although, the entire process might seem to be burdensome it is extremely critical to follow the protocol.
What is due diligence?
Due diligence is the process of taking the necessary safety measures during the hiring process to ensure that the business assets are protected from the harmful effects of negligent hiring litigation and workplace violence. In today’s fast evolving economy, employers are looking to streamline operations and maximize the potential of their most important assets, their employees. With the help of the right workforce it is possible for the employer to make their brand a grand success in the marketplace. Comprehensive background screening helps this objective by exercising due diligence and gives legal protection to the employees.
Why do international background checks take much longer than domestic searches?
It can be due to time differences, name variations and language barriers depending on the country. The other reason might be the fact that many of the schools and employers in these countries may not have computerized systems or staff designated to instantly complete the screening requests.
What is negligent hiring? How do I protect my organization from negligent hiring liability?
Negligent hiring is hiring of an employee who was not qualified enough to get selected. The case for negligent hiring begins when a claim is filed by an injured party against an employer on the basis of a theory that the employee knew or should have been more careful while scrutinizing the employee’s background which if known, should have disqualified the employee from consideration.
One way to protect your organization from negligent hiring liability is by conducting a comprehensive background check on potential employees. This may include: verifying education and work histories, check references, conducting interviews and criminal history search on all candidates who have been given a conditional offer of employment.
How long should I retain background check reports?
As such there is no set regulations by the FCRA for employers to retain background check reports for a specified period of time. But, there are certain factors to consider like: a candidate, employee or regulatory agency can sue you for an FCRA violation related to background check report for a maximum of 5 years from the date of the violation. A plaintiff who was harmed or injured by any of your employees can sue you for a maximum of two years from the date of the injury of harm. This makes employers to save the background check reports for some years before discarding them off.
Typically it has been observed that employers retain hired employees’ background check reports for three years from the date of employment termination, and non-hired candidates’ background check reports for a duration of six years from the date of the no-hire decision.
What is Ban the Box Law? How does it impact employment background screening in the US?
Ban the Box law has been devised to prohibit the employers from including criminal conviction questions in the job application till the candidate has received a conditional employment offer. The laws prohibit the employers from inquiring about past convictions in taking the final hiring decision. It ensures that there is no summary disqualification of a candidate with a criminal record.
According to the law, employers need to conduct criminal background checks after extending a conditional job offer. If after reviewing the background check report the employer is inclined to reject the candidate solely on the basis of their criminal records by making an individualized assessment of whether the candidate’s convictions have a direct negative correlation with the specific duties of the job. While making the assessment, the law requires employers to consider the nature and gravity of the criminal offense, the time that has passed since the conviction and the nature of the job.
The candidate has an equal right to dispute the decision of the candidate within five business days of the notice. They then need to submit a response before the final decision is made. But, before the final decision the employer should not offer the job to anyone else.
Consult with your legal counselor to decide which ban-the-box laws are applicable in your state and county. On the basis of the guidance received you need to tone down your job descriptions and job applications in such a way that your hiring managers are not asking criminal history as a part of the interview process.
Why do I need an agency and a legal process when I can simply check a candidate's background on social media?
There are a wide array of reasons for HR leaders & employers to avoid performing online or social media candidate screens, but the biggest one is that by searching online, you might come across an information that should not be a part of the hiring selection process. It is important for you to understand the privacy and discrimination issues that can arise when you scrutinize their social media and online profiles. Some of the protected characteristics include color, religion, race, national origin, disability, citizenship status, age and gender.
If a candidate feels that their selection was not done due to any of these traits, they have every right to sue you for discrimination. This makes the case in favor of hiring a background screening agency and having a legal process in place to regulate the verification in question so that in the end, you do not end up in a legal coup.
How does education verification happen?
The background screening vendor contacts the educational institution that issued the degree of certificate for education verification. Most of the degrees or certificates that are issued are verified by the institution’s admissions and records office. There are certain educational institutions that employ third-party verification services. In turn, these fees are then levied on the employers.
What if a School/College mentioned in a candidate's resume has shut down?
Over the years, high school consolidation has resulted in many schools/colleges to disappear. In such a situation, it becomes difficult for an employer to verify that the candidate really did graduate from the high school that was consolidated out of existence years ago.
Luckily, most of the time graduation records of the students are not destroyed by the educational institute. Rather, they are sent to the district administrative office in the county in which the school was located or were sent to the high school that survived consolidated. Although this may take a while longer to unearth the records, but with thoughtful deliberation the truth can be discovered.
The least that can be done is to ask in what county or state the school/college was located. If nothing else, a quick check can help you to find out the county seat which can make you find out district’s administrative offices. If you have the name under which the candidate attended, the year of graduation, date of birth and a social security number nearly any high school diploma / college degree can be verified.
Is drug screening really necessary for new joinees?
When employees take drugs it has an adverse effect on their health and safety. It also results in decreased productivity and poor employee morale. You can also incur additional costs in the form of health care claims, especially short term disability claims. This makes the case in favor of carrying out drug screening on new joinees. Some of the other reasons include:
- To stop the employee from taking drugs;
- To identify those employees early who are drug addicts that can be corrected;
- To provide a safe work environment for other employees in the organization;
- To protect the general public and instill confidence in their minds that employees are working safely;
- To comply with State Laws or Federal regulations;
- To take benefit from Workers’ Compensation Premium Discount programs.
What is the procedure of conducting employee drug testing in the US?
Normally employers are given a liberty when it comes to determining how an employee drug testing will fit in their organization. Only federally regulated organizations like the U.S. Department of Transportation has to comply with some regulations when it comes to drug testing.
Federal agencies conducting drug tests need to follow the SAMHSA Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing, require a medical officer to be present during testing. For workplace testing, urine analysis is the most common testing method being used which is conducted in a doctor’s clinic or medical facility selected by the employer. During the process, the employee provides a urine sample that is managed appropriately to avoid adulteration while also maintaining the privacy of the individual.
If SAMHSA guidelines are followed, the sample will be taken to a certified laboratory for comprehensive testing. It has been observed that the accuracy level is high at these laboratories as they are certified to test for five primary substances and alcohol. If the tests are found to be positive, the employer will be informed. It should be noted that certain medications will produce a positive result; hence it is important for the employees to provide any information pertaining to the prescribed medication that is taken.
How reliable are employee drug tests results?
It has generally been observed that drug testing laboratories show reliable results. But the drug tests used by many organizations can be unpredictable. The most prevalent used screens can provide false positive results between 10 to 30 percent of the time. This false positive result can be attributed to result from the drug screen to confuse like compounds.
Let us now look at some common compound confusion that leads to false positives:
- Advil for marijuana
- Nyquil for amphetamines
- Vicks Formula 44 for heroin
There are certain over the counter items that produce positive results, including:
- Herbal teas
- Poppy seeds