Common Questions About Employment Background Checks
Employers can have many questions about establishing and maintaining an employment background check program..
Here are the most common questions we receive.
1. Who should I conduct a pre employment background check?
A. The primary step in managing risk begins with making sure you are not placing people in positions of trust or in situations where they might harm fellow employees or customers is the main tool for protecting a company and its' employees.
2. What kinds of employment background checks should I use.
A. Like most things you get what you pay for.
A quality background check is really the only one to consider. Many people say it is worse to screen candidates with a cheap database search than not to run a background check at all. A database search is likely too miss 30 to 50 percent of all criminal records. Yet, companies that use them may have the false sense of security that they have done a criminal record background check and rely on that faulty information when it comes to placing trust in employees.
3. What defines a quality criminal records background check?
A. First, it must contain and be based on a social security address history record.
There is simply no other effective way to know where to look for possible criminal records on an individual. For years, employers had to rely on the address history provided by an applicant with the obvious flaw of an applicant simply not listing states or counties where he may have acquired a criminal record. The social security address history trace tells the employment screening services provider where to look for possible records.
Our criminal records "Smart Search®" provides a comprehensive criminal records national search, a check of the sex offender registry in all 50 states and any needed county criminal records checks. Our criminal records "Smart Search Plus®" checks all of these records and also checks the Federal criminal records repositories in states where the applicant may have lived for the past 7 years.
4. It seems like in the age of automation there should simply be a comprehensive database where all criminal records could be accessed without having to go through individual states and counties criminal records repositories?
A. Many people are surprised to learn that here is no such criminal record database. For a complete explanation of criminal record databases, please click on this page in our web site: Criminal Record Databases Explained
FBI criminal record databases. Perhaps even more surprising to many people is that the FBI criminal records database contains only about 50 to 55 percent of all available criminal records. This fact is reported as of 2013 their own web site. If the FBI'S criminal records database is this incomplete, one can only imagine doubtful results to be obtained from a commercial database search that may not have been updated or improved in several years. For more information on FBI criminal record databases Click Here
5. How long does an employment screening background check take?
Considering the complexity of the many inquiries that are required, they are actually returned quite quickly in most cases. Usually, you can expect results on the same day to next day. It may take longer when county courthouses are closed for holidays, vacations or are short staffed. Even though they are playing a crucial role in helping people get jobs, they sometimes do not share the sense of urgency employers and background check companies would like. As courts improve their electronic access, the process will become faster even in these counties.
6.Previous Employment And Education Verifications
Other verifications such as education and past employment are entirely dependent on the level of cooperation we receive from past employers and educational institutions.
They must almost always be provided with a release signed by the applicant and most schools charge a fee to verify this information.
7. Why are there so many legal requirements involved in the employment screening process?
A. Legitimate employment screening services providers such as National Employment Screening are CRAs (credit reporting agencies) and are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The primary intent of the FCRA is to make sure that accurate, up-to-date and legally disclosable information is first verified and then reported on individuals. Moreover, the intent is to give individuals the opportunity to dispute records they believe to be inaccurate. It does not happen very often, but we are glad to make sure what we report is accurate. After all, we see our role as helping employers find the best employees, not stopping people from getting hired.
Among other things, these laws impose a number of requirements on employers such as having a compliant, signed, dated release and authorization to conduct a background check.
Further, if an adverse action such as refusal to hire someone based on the results of a background check is to be taken, the employer must comply with adverse action notification procedures. There are many pages in our web site dedicated to helping employers understand these rules and we are always available to answer questions.
8. Are there any government publications available to assist me in staying in compliance with these employment screening laws?
A. Yes. The EEOC and the FTC have produced a recent publication titled "Background Checks What Employers Need To Know" designed to just this. For more information please Click Here
9. What's up with "Ban The Box" laws? Do I have to comply?
A. Ban the box laws are becoming a legislative trend. No doubt a well intentioned effort to give people with criminal records a better chance at employment by moving the issue of a criminal record further down the road in the employment process. There are already studies indicating this imposition on employers is having the unintended consequence of harming the very people it was designed to help.
In any case, yes if you are hiring people in any of the states or counties where these laws are in effect you must absolutely comply. For more information or to see if you are required to comply, please Click Here
10. Q. Why should I run a check of the Federal criminal records systems if I am already ordering a state and county criminal records check?
A. For an example of an applicant with a Federal criminal record but no state or county arrest record, Click Here. This record would not have been found without a check of the separately maintained Federal criminal records systems which contains about 10 per cent of all arrest records.
This search is included in our criminal record "Smart Search Plus®".
11. What are the two primary responsibilities the FCRA requires of an Employer?
A. The employer must obtain a signed consent form from the employment applicant, and providing the employment applicant with a written disclosure that a background check may be requested.
The forms that must be signed include the Authorization for Release of Information Form and the Disclosure Form.
The release must be on an entirely separate form and can not b part of the employment application nor may it contain any other language except the release.
Should the background check (Consumer Report) include derogatory information that causes the employer not to hire an applicant, the following steps must be taken:
The applicant must be given a copy of the background check (Consumer Report) along with a “Pre-Adverse Action Notice,” and a copy of the “Summary of Rights Under the FCRA.” Examples of these letters are included in our site map.
If after a reasonable period of time the employer makes a final decision not to hire the applicant, the employer should send the applicant an “Adverse Action Letter” and another copy of the “Summary of Rights Under the FCRA.”
The applicant has the right to dispute the accuracy of the information included in the background check. If so, the background screening company has a duty to re-investigate within 30 days.
Contact information for the screening agency that completed your applicant’s background checks is included in the Adverse Action Letter, and the candidate should contact them directly.
12. Gaps in Employment
Employers should take a careful look at gaps in employment that are not easily explained or verified such as layoffs etc. Gaps in employment often are an indication of time spent in custody, or a criminal record the applicant did not disclose.
For a Helpful Guide To Ordering Employment Screening Background Checks: Click Here