Pre-employment background screening has now become a norm in the US. More and more employers are using it to get thorough information pertaining to candidates. Most recruiters conduct some sort of background check before hiring new employees. And the reasons are pretty obvious. With the increasing crime rate, forgery and increase in employment related fraud in the US, more and more employers are concerned about the workplace safety which makes it important to conduct background checks of candidates before hiring them.
Employers also have some misconceptions when it comes to candidate background checks, due to limited awareness of background screening and its various aspects. But evidences claim that background screening services do more good to an organization than harm.
In this blog we will discuss these and various other aspects of employee background screening in the US context.
What is Pre-employment Background Screening?
Pre-employment background screening helps employers get a clear and truthful picture of a candidate irrespective of the information shared by the candidate during the interview process. By looking at the past of a candidate, an employer can select an applicant that is not only qualified for the position, but can also be a great long term investment for the organization.
Reasons to Conduct Pre-employment Background Screening
According to a study conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), more than 50% of applications received from candidates contain inaccuracies about things like educational background and past employment history. There are several organizations that are still uninformed and make the mistake of not conducting background check of all applicants.
Here are some of the reasons why conducting background screening is necessary for the US recruiters.
1. Candidates Often Lie in Their Resumes and Application Forms
Applicants are going to say whatever they can to get the desired job. There are times when applicants exclude certain jobs or vital information from their resume hoping that the employer will not be able to find it out.
2. Check for criminal history and relevant job-sensitive information
Pre-employment background checks are not carried out to discriminate applicants who had previous criminal records. Rather, it is meant to make sure that the past acts are not serious enough to create problems in future.
3. To keep your business, employees and customers safe
You may come across potentially dangerous applicants like serial sex offenders or violent criminals who might pose a threat to your existing employees. But if you do not conduct a criminal background check of candidates you will never know who you are dealing with. Remember, as an employer, you will be held responsible for any incident that might happen in the workplace if you do not conduct background check of employees.
4. To keep your workplace drug-free
While screening a candidate it is not possible to know whether he/she has been slapped with drug charges in the past irrespective of whether it is for distribution or possession. Today, employers in the US are looking to provide a safe and drug-free workplace to their employees. Hence, in order to eliminate such candidates from the applicant pool it is important to carry out pre-employment drug testing.
Types of Pre-employment Background Screening Services in The US
Background checks and other pre-employment screening services are an integral part of the hiring process in the US. By screening a candidate through a comprehensive background check process, employers increase the chances of preventing negligent hiring lawsuits and provide a safer work environment to their employees. Organizations all across the United States rely on these pre-employment background screening services to select the right candidate for the job.
Identity Check Services
Identity check can provide you information that can be used to be more confident about the candidate you are hiring. It also assists you in scrutinizing whether the candidate is being honest with the most basic personal information. It is an integral part of the background check process which provides crucial information required to move forward with more extensive searches. Some of the identity check services provided by background screening vendors include:
Criminal Search Services
Criminal search services assist employers in finding out the past criminal records of the candidate based on county, statewide, national and federal level. It even provides information pertaining to sex offender records of the candidate at a national level. Some of the criminal search services provided by background screening vendors include:
There are times when employers have to scrutinize candidate’s information pertaining to employment, education, professional license, military service and references. This is done through verification services to ensure the authenticity of the information provided by the candidate. Some of verification services provided by background screening vendors include:
Sometimes employers need to conduct background checks to find out a candidate’s credit report, civil report at both county and federal levels, social media and online media check to know more about the candidate’s attitude along with drug screening in cases of determining whether an illegal or prescription drug is in the body through blood and urine tests conducted by certified laboratories. These additional services provided by background screening vendors include:
Common Pre-employment background screening misconceptions
In the present day scenario, with an increase in employment related frauds, crime rate and forgery, employers have become more and more concerned about workplace safety. Hence, they have started to conduct pre-employment checks in US. Despite background screening processes being critical for the overall success of an organization, it has been marred with lots of myths and misconceptions:
1. Candidates cannot dispute the background screening report findings
According to Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a candidate can dispute the findings of the background screening report. This is done through Adverse Action wherein the employer must notify the candidate within three business days about the findings and provide a copy of their report. No employer can deny this right to the candidate.
2. All the information pertaining to the candidate is online
Many employers perceive that background checks are unnecessary as vast amount of information can be accessed through the internet. But using online and social media searches can prove to be harmful for the organization. There is a good chance that you will not be able to get all the information needed only through online search and may end up facing a discrimination suit.
3. Pre-employment background check is only for large companies
Small business owners have the perception that pre-employment background checks are only mandatory for larger companies. But the fact of the matter is smaller companies have much more to lose. It is better to pay a small fee for conducting background checks than risk thousands in damages.
4. All background check vendors provide the same information
Recruiters have a very common misconception that every background check vendor provides the same services which makes it wise to select the cheapest service provider. But there is no single database of criminal information available in the US and instant checks do not exist. Each background screening vendor needs to follow FCRA guidelines, but not all necessarily follow. If you end up getting a deal which seems too good to be true, most probably it is.
Most Prevalent Background Screening Compliance Norms in The US
The background screening industry in the US is highly regulated by rules that protect candidates and the background screening companies. It is governed by legislation at all government levels from federal to state to local districts. For your ready reference, we have listed below most prevalent government compliance laws and acts applicable in the US for conducting background screening.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The Fair Credit Reporting Act also known as FCRA has been designed to protect the privacy of consumer report information. It provides a guarantee that the information provided by background screening vendors is as accurate as possible.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The EEOC enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee due to person’s color, religion, race, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation), pregnancy, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is one of the two federal agencies that oversees the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It recommends employers to provide a simple explanation of what information will be included in the background screening report.
I9 Compliance requires all the individuals hired for employment in the United states to verify their identity and employment authorization using form I9. This includes citizens and non-citizens.
How to choose an ideal background screening vendor?
Once you have decided to conduct background check of your employees, getting started can be a daunting task. Searching on Google for background screening vendors can turn up dozens of possible vendors. To make your task simpler, we have highlighted the ingredients of an ideal background screening vendor here.
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