Compliance Guidelines For Employee Background Checks

January 24, 2019

The rules surrounding background employment checks often change, and in recent years, the process has gotten more and more complex. If you’re an employer or work for a background screening company, you need to ensure that you’re up to date with the latest laws and new guidelines to avoid incurring penalties for non-compliance.

Here are a few ways to remain compliant when conducting, or applying for employee background checks:

Follow the FCRA:

The Fair Credit Reporting Act must be strictly adhered to when planning to run a background check, and here are some of its rules:

  • The subject must give their consent for a background check to be provided to their employer.
  • They must be informed if any of the details uncovered in their background check have been used against them
  • Subjects have the explicit right to know what is in their report.
  • They also have the right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information in the background check

If you’re an employer who is looking to compile their own background check policy, you must be compliant with the law, and the best way of ensuring this is to seek legal counsel.

Engage with a CRA or other such professional service:

There are plenty of less reputable websites out there who offer to conduct background checks on employees, but you should avoid cutting corners or costs and stick with the Consumer Reporting Agency. Before engaging with them, employers need to send an RFP, or request for proposals, to potential vendors before hiring a CRA.

Be prepared for consumers to take an active interest in the process:

With the increased popularity of background checks, job candidates are taking a more active and interested role in proceedings, and they are more aware of their rights now than ever before.

Legislation entitled ‘Ban the Box’ will expand and evolve:

Job applicants with a criminal record are now being helped to reintegrate back into society with the introduction of legislation known as ‘Ban the Box’. Researchers are just beginning to evaluate whether such policies are helping to get reformed criminals back into work, or whether they are in fact, creating greater racial discrimination.

As an employer or someone who runs background checks for others, you need to be up to date with policies like these and regularly review the current laws and regulations in order to comply.

More and more companies are opting to perform background checks:

96% of companies surveyed last year for the National Association of Professional Background Screeners, stated that they conduct one or more types of background checks on potential employees. With public safety being one of the top factors affecting this, all companies looking to recruit new staff should seriously consider screening applicants.

Note that litigation cases are on the increase:

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is unlike other consumer protection statutes, in that it doesn’t provide a cap on statutory damages in class actions, causing litigation cases to rise in the background screening industry. The industry as a whole has become a target for class action litigation and is most notably in cases where the job applicant has suffered no demonstrable harm.

Taking care to follow the rules and regulations to the letter when conducting employee background checks, is the only way to make yourself less of a target for litigation, and advice and guidance from a qualified and experienced screening service provider, is the simplest and most effective solution.

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