Scary scenarios are blasted over the news quite often these days.
“Company 123 has broken "Ban the Box" rules"
"Company 456 has been sued for millions because of negligent hiring practices"
"Company 789 is liable for big bucks because their hiring practices are discriminatory"
These examples are proof that it's time to take your background check process seriously. While it may seem overwhelming to try to create and execute compliant hiring practices, all it takes is a bit of organization and education.
Employers are either painted as carelessly hiring employees who have dangerous criminal histories or disastrous drug addictions, or as strict, privacy invading entities that stomp all over job candidates’ rights.
Smart employers who put a priority on hiring safe, productive employees are worrying about their background screening process. Is it enough to weed out job applicants who are unqualified, or could be dangerous to the workplace? On the other hand, are the pre-employment screening tools currently being used fair and relevant to the open position, without being discriminatory?
The good news is that, with a little planning up front, screening an applicant’s background while staying in compliance is as easy as A-B-C. Here's how:
A: Adopt adverse action procedures. This is working a bit backward, but properly handling a situation where a job applicant doesn’t pass your background check is critical. Many a company has suffered serious fines because of their non-compliance in this area.
If you decide to not hire someone based on whole or in part on information in the background report, you must send them a Pre-Adverse Action notice, letting the person know there was something in his or her report that is negatively affecting the chances of being hired. Include a copy of the background report as well as a "Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act." If you decide to not hire the person, after a period of time (usually 5 business days after the Pre-Adverse Action letter) send out an Adverse Action Letter.
Take-away: Following this procedure every time protects employers from discriminatory hiring practice lawsuits and bolsters compliant hiring practices.
B: Be relevant and fair. Blanket background screening policies are likely to get you sued, so ditch them now. This means that, while you may need to run an employment verification on your Accounting Manager, you really don’t need one to decide on your janitor. Designate specific screening tools for every position, and make sure you are only reviewing information on the candidate that relates to the position they seek from you.
Take-away: Adapting relevant pre-employment screening tools minimizes the risk of getting into trouble for using hiring practices that could be deemed unfair or discriminatory.
C: Conduct them consistently. Going with your gut, or measuring someone based on their appearance, will eventually get you in hot water. Screen every applicant applying for the same position in the same manner, regardless of their age, sex, appearance, or any other factor based on personal preference. That 6 foot 6 tattooed guy with hair down to his waist may be squeaky clean, and the short haired, thin, beautiful woman may be a dangerous wanted criminal. You can’t tell by just looking.
Take-away: Compliant hiring practices consist of taking pre-conceived notions out of the process. Run the same background check reports on every candidate for the same position.
D: Document, document, document. If employers face litigation, written proof of fair and consistent hiring practices is powerful evidence that the claim holds no water. Start the process by using a stand-alone document to gain written authorization from every applicant that they agree to a background check. It is a key employer responsibility in compliant background screening practices for employers to disclose in writing to the applicant that they will be the subject of a background report as part of the employment selection process, and get their consent.
Detail a written background screening policy in advance, and follow it from start to finish. Keep a thorough record of the screening process, results, and how the hiring decision was made.
Take-away. Employment lawsuits are weighed heavily against the employer. Documenting the hiring process from beginning to end can tip the scales in your favor.
E: Educate all parties. Understanding the seriousness of compliant background screening practices doesn’t end with HR. Hiring managers, recruiters, and anyone else involved in the process needs to be informed and kept abreast of the expectations of a non-discriminatory, but thorough, background screening process.
Take-away. Employers who involve ill-informed parties in the hiring process are opening themselves up to hiring lawsuits, as well as unqualified or dangerous new hires. Consistently educate everyone working with job applicants on proper, compliant protocol.
F: Find a reputable screening partner. Fly-by-night background screening companies may or may not return accurate results. If employers don’t act in good faith and do their part to make decisions based on the truth, job candidates who are judged on erroneous information can sue, and win. Choose an experienced background screening company that has been in business a long time, is NAPBS accredited, and has private investigators on staff. Ask questions about how they qualify and return their results.
Take-away. An experienced background screening company is key in making smart hiring decisions from accurate background screening information.
The issue of compliant background screening practices is a hot one that employers must take seriously to protect themselves from costly, lengthy litigation. Simplify this by committing to our A-B-C solution, and reap the rewards of securing well-qualified, safe, productive new hires for your workplace.