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December 12, 2022

Background Screening Strategies for 2023

Starting the new year on the right foot means HR must plan now. As you craft your strategy, include considerations for background screening.

As the labor shortage drags on and the economy tightens, what worked in 2022 may not be an option in 2023. HR must closely review your company’s current background screening policy to determine the edits and additions it needs to protect your workplace and avoid litigation.

Here are the main points to ponder to help you build and execute the most seamless, highest-performing background screening strategy possible in 2023.

First, commit to:

Formulating a Thorough, Written Background Screening Policy

Having it in your mind or remembering past conversations about how to handle background screening isn’t good enough anymore. A written policy allows HR and hiring managers to reference it when they need clarification. It also serves as a valuable tool for new people.

A written background screening policy keeps your processes consistent and compliant and ensures a fair and relevant background screening process. The good news is some background screening vendors now offer policy-writing services to their clients. Using such a service saves you time and keeps your policy thorough and up to date.

Understanding Your State’s Drug (and Other) Laws

Employers must follow drug laws and regulations in the states where they operate. These change almost every year, especially with marijuana legalization trending.

Companies must decide whether they will test for marijuana as part of their pre-employment screening process. They also need to determine when they will use drug testing, such as random, upon reasonable suspicion, or post-accident. These decisions hinge on the laws in your state.

Partnering with a drug screening vendor that stays informed on new and upcoming regulations facilitates compliance. Open a dialogue with your current vendor about new ways for staying on top of changes.

In addition, various states are now requiring special disclosures and authorization forms. Make sure your company uses the correct set by state.

Following Adverse Action Procedures Every Time

Failing to follow adverse action requirements is one of the easiest ways to get your company sued. If you decide in whole or in part not to hire a person because of information uncovered in their background check, you must follow the Adverse Action procedures outlined in the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA), which includes:

  • Pre-adverse action - Send the applicant a letter notifying them you will be taking adverse action against them. Include a “Summary of Rights Under the FCRA” and a copy of the background check
  • Waiting period - Employers must give the candidate time to receive the Pre-Adverse Action Letter and dispute the information if they choose. There’s no set amount of required waiting time, but 5 business days is the widely accepted time frame.
  • Final notice of adverse action - Send the Final Notice of Adverse Action that includes an explanation of why there wasn’t an offer extended to the candidate.

Keep in mind some states have their own rules, and employers must add language telling the applicant specifically what part of the background check caused them not to hire the applicant. Follow this process every time you don’t hire a person because of information found in their background check.

Maintaining a Relevant, Fair Screening Process

Avoid background checks that don’t have anything to do with the job you’re trying to fill. This means a forklift driver doesn’t necessarily need to be screened for a collegiate degree, but an accountant would. In addition, don’t haphazardly screen applicants only if you don’t like their looks or they give you a bad “gut feeling”.

Screen everyone fairly and only with background checks that relate to the job they’re trying to land. Otherwise, you could be nailed by discrimination lawsuits, which can ruin your new year in a hurry. Using a hiring matrix and a decision tool to mark the report is an increasingly popular way to maintain a consistent screening process.

Once you’ve committed to the previous points, take action by:

Finding Ways to Decrease Time-to-Hire

The talent shortage is expected to extend into 2023. That means if you take too much time to make a hiring decision, your top candidate may end up on a competitor’s payroll. Your ATS and background screening partner should be taking steps to create a candidate-first experience through technology and tracking.

Find ways to move your process along faster. Can your background screener offer ways to return your background checks quicker? Is there a faster way to order? Does your background screener provide everything you need so you can order only once?

Keep your finger on the pulse of every aspect of your background check and proactively address holdups and obstacles. Expect your vendor to be available to discuss your process and answer your questions.

Revisiting Your Background Screening Vendor

Maybe your vendor served your needs before, but are they exceeding your expectations now? Is their service and help with compliance filling the bill or leaving lots to be desired? Would new services be beneficial to you? Many employers are now screening applicants’ social media profiles and using driver monitoring even on employees who don’t operate vehicles full-time.

Schedule a meeting with your current vendor to ensure you’re using everything they offer to your advantage. And consider looking at other options to help stay in compliance and provide services your current partner doesn’t offer.

Embracing Technology to Elevate Your Candidate Experience

Technology has permeated all facets of business, and your background screening process is no different. Set up texting for reminders to candidates and use mobile-friendly ways to get the applicants’ signatures, share documents, and even complete applications. There are big advantages that come with mobile technology like fewer data errors, less time wasted, and a more seamless candidate experience.

Preparing for a new year requires HR to plan, budget, and strategize about numerous topics and concerns. By laying the groundwork up front, you can be confident in rising to the challenge and meeting any surprises agilely and swiftly. Background screening goes much smoother when you plan in advance. Good luck in 2023!

John Hawkins

John is a Senior National Account Executive for Data Facts.

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