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The Dos and Don’ts of Background Checks
There’s something almost…taboo about background checks. Sure they’re important - but are they necessary? The simple answer is yes; after all, it’s the employer’s responsibility to protect your clients, employees, and business. However, there is a lot of red tape and confusion around background checks.
Background checks can cause major headaches when deciding which check to run, figuring out what form to use, and determining if going through an agency is worth the money. Processing a background check under the wrong form could generate compliance issues and create a delayed start for the employee. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick dos and don’ts list for HR managers when conducting a background check.
DO: Understand What Kind of Check Should Be Done
Different industries and positions require different levels of security checks, so employers definitely want to be sure they’re conducting the right kind of checks. For example, a trucking company will need to pull a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) report for a driver applicant, whereas an office job may not require a candidate’s driving record.
What You Need To Conduct A Background Check:
Address History Check
Social Security Number Trace
County, State, and Federal Criminal Record Check
DON’T: Forget The Consent Form
If you utilize a reporting agency for your background checks, you are required by law to first get consent from the applicant to conduct the search. Candidates must complete two forms: the authorization and the disclosure.
It’s important to note that if an employee/applicant denies an employer permission to conduct a background check, the employer can legally remove the applicant for consideration. And if you’re using an agency to run the background check, make sure they are compliant with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulations.
DO: Check For Fees
There’s no if, ands, or buts about it - background checks can get expensive depending on the thoroughness of the search. Employers can easily rack up additional access fees on top of the cost of the search, so be sure to do your research on jurisdiction access fees for county, state, and federal criminal searches. This way, there are no surprise costs associated with the check. Here’s a general breakdown at some of the basic costs an employer could pay while conducting a background screening:
|Common Checks||Fee Associated with Check|
|SSN trace & identity verification||$2 to $4|
|Credit history check||$10 to $20|
|DMV record||$10 to $20|
|Education/employment verification||About $15|
|Complete criminal background check (including national sex offender search; country, state and federal criminal search||$25 to $75|
Don’t: Assume Anything
There’s no telling what can be uncovered during a background screening. If something does come up, depending on the situation was, don’t eliminate the candidate right away. Give the applicant a chance to rectify or explain what happened. Even if an applicant’s record isn’t squeaky-clean, employers can still benefit from hiring them if they meet the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) qualifications.
What is WOTC?
WOTC is a Federal tax credit available to employers who hire individuals in certain target groups who face significant barriers to employment.
Sometimes the information provided on a check can be inaccurate or flat-out wrong, and employers shouldn’t dismiss a potentially great candidate because of a misunderstanding (besides, applicants have the legal right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information on their file). Reference checks are another way to get a better understanding of a person’s character; however, employers should check laws to see if consent is required in their jurisdiction.
An Employer’s Due Diligence
Employers should do everything in their power to ensure the safety of their employees and clients, which is why background checks are so important during the hiring process. If you haven’t examined your hiring process in a while, it may be beneficial to review our dos and don’ts list before conducting your next background check: