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The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), assists consumers in understanding their rights and responsibilities related to background checks for employment or tenancy.
As applicants, and the subject of the reports our members prepare, you are an essential part of the background screening process. Employers, property managers and background screeners have legal requirements to follow under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to ensure your rights as a consumer are protected. The PBSA encourages applicants to stay engaged in the process, ask questions and discuss any concerns you have with either your employer or property manager or the background screener.
The information below is intended to provide you, the subject of background check report, with general knowledge of the process, terminology used and your rights. Note that the information provided is geared towards individuals in the United States; however, individuals outside of the U.S. may also find the information helpful.
The following resources are provided to you on behalf of the PBSA to serve as valuable navigational tools and resources to assist you. This information is intended for general educational and informational purposes only and is not legal advice, expressed or implied. If you need legal advice, consult with a qualified, licensed attorney.
What is included in a background check?
A background check will investigate a candidate’s background based on criteria determined by their prospective or current employer. A check of a candidate’s background may include employment, education, criminal records, credit history, motor vehicle and license record checks. Each type of check will reveal different information relevant to that check. A candidate should get clarification from the organization requesting the background check in order to understand what specific searches are being requested.
Who is Data Facts in relation to the employer requesting my background verification? Does the background verification mean I am hired?
The background verification is a key milestone to helping candidates get hired. Employers engage Data Facts to conduct background verifications.
Please note that Data Facts does not make the hiring decision, and cannot provide you with details as to the reasoning behind your prospective employer’s hiring decision. For the status of your candidacy for employment, you should contact the hiring company directly.
What’s involved in a drug test?
Many people worry about taking a drug test. Even if you’ve never used an illegal drug or consumed anything stronger than iced tea, you may still feel anxious. Or you may worry that the aspirin you took yesterday is going to result in a positive test.
What’s the Process?
Most employers that conduct drug testing do so under very controlled conditions following federal testing guidelines or state laws regulating drug testing. This helps ensure the security and integrity of the sample provided by the candidate and that the sample being tested is not adulterated (tampered with) or mixed up.
Employers may use a variety of methods for drug testing. Among the most common employment-related drug tests are urine-based, though many employers have adopted hair, saliva, breath and other testing methods, as well.
The sample is normally tested and analyzed at certified laboratories that set cutoff levels designed to ensure accurate identification of drugs in the testing process, that can identify most of the popular adulterants a person might use to try and cover up drug use, and that can rule out passive exposure as a reasonable explanation for a positive result.
Today’s confirmation testing methods are very sophisticated in identifying the exact substance that is present in the drug screening specimen. As a further measure to assure accuracy and integrity of the drug screening process, employers may utilize the services of Medical Review Officers to afford donors an opportunity to provide legitimate medical explanations for any positive test results.
All these precautions are designed to help protect the donor and help alleviate concerns over their prescribed medication use and consumption of foods.
Subject to applicable law and the employer’s policies, an employment-related drug test may be performed prior to starting a new job.
Many employers also repeat their drug tests periodically or employ random, reasonable suspicion, and post-accident drug testing programs as a way to deter drug use and keep their workplaces drug-free and/or to meet their regulatory requirements.
For example, for commercial driving positions regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, regular drug testing is required as a condition of employment.
Can I get hired if I have a criminal record?
Employers’ use of criminal record information in making employment decisions is subject to applicable Federal and State laws and regulations (including the FCRA).
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and certain state statutes require that employers evaluate a variety of factors when considering the impact of a criminal record in making their hiring decisions.
Such considerations may include:
- How recent was the conviction?
- What was the nature and gravity of the offense, and is it relevant to the job?
- What are the facts or circumstances surrounding the offense or conduct?
- How many offenses has the candidate been convicted of?
- Is there evidence that the candidate performed the same type of work, post-conviction, with the same or a different employer, with no known incidents of criminal conduct?
- What is the length and consistency of employment history before and after the offense or conduct?
- Does the candidate have employment or character references and any other information regarding fitness for the particular position?
- Has the candidate engaged in rehabilitation efforts, such as education/training?
- Will the position involve working with sensitive populations such as children or the elderly?
You should contact your prospective employer to discuss their adjudication process as it relates to the evaluation of criminal records.
How far back do background checks go?
The depth of a background check’s search depends on the type of data returned and the location of that data. For example, criminal searches may be limited to 7 or 10 years in certain states, whereas other states permit searches and reporting of all available records. Other searches such as verification of employment, education or professional licenses may not be legally time limited and are defined by the organization requesting the background check.
A candidate can contact their employer for an understanding of the search depth of their specific background check package.
What does an Education Verification or Professional license verifications entail?
In this step of the employee background check, employers want to verify that you attended the school or professional program you said you attended, and that you completed the degree or credential in the field of study to the extent you indicated.
Employers may find candidates that have reported that they received a degree that they did not, or candidates who have claimed that they received a degree in a particular major that they did not (for example, a marketing major that claims a degree in engineering).
Employers are also interested to learn when the institution provided is not recognized or supervised by an official educational accrediting body that awards academic degrees and diplomas that are considered legitimate.
Professional License Checks
For professional license checks, background screening companies generally contact the applicable industry or state licensing board to confirm that the license is held and hasn’t lapsed or expired, and that the license is in good standing.
How long does a background check take?
Depending on the nature and scope of the background check your potential employer has requested, an average employment background check will typically take between two and four business days to complete.
However, a background check may take longer for a variety of reasons including the following:
- Data Facts has difficulty establishing contact with your former employers or educational institutions. In such cases, Data Facts may ask you to supply a W-2 or additional information to help substantiate the information in your application or resume. Having this documentation handy and providing it quickly will help speed up the process.
- Courts can be backlogged or closed for a holiday, which can increase the time it takes for a criminal records check to be completed.
- If an employer requests drug testing, you may need to be contacted by a Medical Review Officer regarding your sample’s results.
- If your background history includes information outside of the United States, specific releases or other documentation may be needed in order to facilitate the search requested. Further, non-US courts, police ministries, or other governmental bodies housing criminal records may also be backlogged or otherwise unable to immediately respond to the search request. Non-US employers and education institutions similarly may require additional time to respond to a verification request. If you provide the information that is requested in the initial background check form as part of the non-US check, it helps speed up the screening process.