Are background checks of prospective employees a good idea?
Today’s HRNewsDaily Guest Voice is from Pete VanSon, CEO of Ovation Technologies.
In 1993, a Kirby vacuum salesman in Texas was charged with raping a customer. Although the salesman worked for an independent distributor, Kirby was taken to court, accused of putting the customer at risk.
If only the distributor hiring the salesman conducted a background check first; most likely they would have uncovered the prior conviction for a sexual offense.
The court awarded the victim $160,000.
In light of these events, it may be surprising that not all companies use background checks. A recent survey by SHRM found that only 69 percent of companies performed background checks on all candidates. Of the companies that do background checks, 62 percent do so after making an offer.
In another case, a staff accountant was caught embezzling $30,000 from the Mississippi University for Women. An internal audit discovered the accountant worked on several uncovered discrepancies.
Since it was the University’s policy to conduct background checks only for management positions, the accountant slipped through the cracks in the system. Unsurprisingly, the accountant had a prior felony conviction for financial misconduct.
Failing to conduct background checks can open the door to a world of trouble, from loss of reputation and profits to massive bad press, as in the case of Kirby Vacuums. What’s more is that failing to screen new employees has become increasingly difficult for an organization to justify.
In addition, background checks save money. Studies have shown that replacing experienced employees can cost an organization more half of that employee’s wages. In the case of specialized industries like nursing, replacement costs can skyrocket. (Source: AARP).
There are specific guidelines available for businesses to help manage background checks in the right way; well-conducted screenings can also help companies avoid exposure to claims of discriminatory hiring practices.
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires employers to provide detailed disclosures to applicants prior to initiating background checks, as well as when there is an adverse action (such as the choice not to hire). This is true when adverse action is either contemplated or finalized.
More than half of the states in the U.S. require these notices, serving as a valuable lesson to employers—background checks should only be performed by a reputable, compliant company. (A word of warning: any firm performing a background search without the candidate’s consent will probably not be thorough—and possibly illegal).
Another way to avoid discriminatory hiring is always have valid reason for action based on the results of a background check. Simply having a criminal record is not a lawful reason for automatically disqualifying a person for hire.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules require three considerations when employers make a hiring decision based on criminal background checks:
- The nature of the crime.
- Time elapsed since the crime or conviction.
- The nature of the job.
Some circumstances require stricter standards than others, and there are times when background checks could justifiably influence hiring decisions.
- Jobs that involve working or being around children or the handicapped.
- Jobs with access to customers’ homes.
- Jobs involving driving vehicles.
- Where employees have access to drugs, explosives, money or valuables.
However, if a candidate’s past offense does not put the company at risk, it is not acceptable (according to the EEOC) to have zero tolerance policies.
Some basic tips for using background checks in hiring decisions:
- Include a statement in your job application that later discovery of false entries will be grounds for rescinding any job offers.
- Get the applicant’s consent prior to checking their background.
- Provide the applicant a copy of the results of the background check.
- Do not base an adverse hiring decision solely on the results of a background check, if the nature of the offense is not a hindrance to performance of specific job duties of the position.
Ovation hiring tools allow users to conduct thorough background checks on applicants, either pre- or post-hire.
The Ovation background check includes:
- Nationscan criminal search.
- Check against the National Sexual Offenders database.
- Check of the validity of the social security number given.
Candidates are sent an email requesting permission to perform the test and the opportunity to receive the results directly from the system. You will not be charged until the candidate authorizes the search. With Ovation, businesses can confidently avoid making a poor hire.
At only $20, Ovation background checks are perfect for any size business. Companies can also request an additional Motor Vehicle Driver’s verification report, for an additional $7.50.
Make your next hiring decision safely and securely: Click Here to begin.
Pete VanSon is the CEO of Ovation Technologies, LLC, a software company focused on developing web based mobile enabled applications for small businesses. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .