Background Checks: Employer and Applicant Rights

When conducting and agreeing to background checks, both employer and potential employee have rights that should be understood by both parties before the process begins. Business owners have a right to protect their interests just as employees have a right to know what information is being pulled on them and why—and to give their consent.

A Few Ground Rules

Before you begin, here are a few of the ground rules.

  1. A company’s screening policies must be in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  2. Anything considered public record is open for investigation, including social security number, criminal record, bankruptcy filings, property ownership, and court documents.
  3. To look up information regarding the applicant’s medical records, education, military service, and credit report, the applicant must provide written consent.

Criminal Records

When looking into an applicant’s criminal records, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Most states keep records on file indefinitely.
  2. The FBI’s National Crime Information Center keeps nationwide records, but they can only be accessed by law enforcement agencies. Often these records are not as reliable as those on a state level.
  3. Some states, like California, have placed time limits (about 7 years) on how long a person’s criminal records may affect their employment eligibility or be reported.

The Importance of Background Checks and Current Events

The recent and current economic climate has instigated a rash of credential fabrication on resumes. According to research conducted by EctoHR, the number of falsified info on resumes doubled in 2009, with a discrepancy popping up on at least 13.5 percent of all the background checks conducted by the organization.

In an ideal world, employers could take an applicant’s claims at face value, but the reality is that doing so is simply unfeasible. Employers take a risk with every new hire, but there’s no reason not to make a calculated one by investing in a verification process. Doing so will protect the employer’s interest while bringing on eligible, trust-worthy team members who are prepared to do the job. So whether you’re seeking peace of mind or fulfilling industry requirements, running a background check is the safe way to grow your personnel.