WageWatch Ibrief Blog

Login

TO CHECK OR NOT TO CHECK: A BACKGROUND CHECKS PRIMER

Conducting thorough pre-employment background checks are a critical tool in mitigating new hire risks. There are many types of background checks available to HR professionals that can be conducted in-house or externally by vendors who specialize in employment screenings.  HR professional should take a strategic view of onboarding as a process.  By doing so, several layers of checks and screenings are implemented to best reduce new hire risks.  It is the old adage that the result is more than the sum of its parts.

The new hire selection process starts with the job advertisement or announcement.  The announcement needs to be designed to attract specific skills and behaviors while discouraging those without.  Posting in the advertisement that the position requires a drug test or criminal background check is a potent deterrent.  Those still interested should be directed to a job application that captures information that will form the groundwork for the pre-employment screenings in the next recruitment phase.

The EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; Age Discrimination Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act; Equal Pay Act; and Title II of the Genetic Information Act.  Employers are welcome to use all manner of pre-employment screenings – as long as they comply with EEOC standards.  None of these Acts directly prohibit employment discrimination based on credit information, conviction records, previous employment, education, or psychological/behavioral profiles.  However, the EEOC has a published a Compliance Manual and provides guidance on a number of pre-employment scenarios, because of the disparate impact facially neutral policies can have on these numerous protected classes.

This is the tightrope that causes many HR professionals to gloss over background checks out of fear of inadvertently triggering an EEOC investigation.  What you don’t know, can hurt you.  HR has a duty to the company to traverse this tightrope and understand the often gray and contradictory playing field (between state and federal guidelines) in which they conduct pre-employment screenings.

Criminal Background Checks – Treat each criminal record individually in the context of the job sought, work environment and conditions, and risk to the organization. Ask the candidate about the situation. Deliberate omission and lies can be used a basis to disqualify the candidate.

Credit Check – Most commonly used for positions that have are executive level, have financial responsibility, or have access to confidential information such as social security numbers to reduce the risk of theft or embezzlement.  Allow candidates the opportunity to explain negative results as some reasons, such as medical bills, are protected.

Physical/Medical Exam – This screening is allowed only after a conditional offer of employment is extended and is used in specific jobs that require a proof of fitness in order to safely perform duties.  All candidates in the job category are required to have the same medical examination.  The candidate medical history is confidential and must be kept separate from employment records.  HR professionals need to keep in mind that the medical examiner does not make the final hiring decision.

Motor Vehicle Record – This is a critical check for positions that are required to operate a company vehicle as part of the job requirement.  In some states, DUI convictions are kept with the DMV not the criminal court system.  There are vendors that make multi-state verification easier by consolidating searches.

Work & Education History – Past performance is a strong indicator of future performance.  The goal of the work history and education background check is to establish that the glowing resume represented to the recruiter is factual and accurate.  On education, check with the governing body on the authenticity of the degree.  We recommend asking for full transcripts for recent graduates with a short work history.

As a company, it is important for you to understand the new regulations set forth by the EEOC and implement them in your hiring and workplace practices.  Additionally, for the good of your employees, it is helpful to analyze benefits survey data, compensation surveys, and salary reports.  Having this information at hand allows you to plan a budget, including competitive employee salaries and benefits, which will help you to hire and retain a happy, talented team.

At WageWatch, our expert evaluators provide businesses in a large range of industries with accurate and beneficial benefits survey data, compensation surveys, and salary reports to ensure that payment and benefits plans are on par with those in the industry. For more information on market compensation data, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.