Gulfshore Insurance > Gulfshore Blog > Employee Benefits > Why It’s Important to Conduct Background Checks and How to Do It Legally

The hiring of new employees can be sort of like walking a tightrope. It is important to find the right candidate with the qualifications and integrity to do the job, but in today’s hiring climate it’s impossible to accept clients at face value. To be effective in hiring practices involves delving into the background of applicants to get a better idea of their abilities and employment performance. However, this has to be measured with respect for the privacy of each individual candidate as well as staying compliant with relevant laws. The purpose of the background check is to help evaluate aptitude and skills and needs to be carried out with this the primary goal…

Verify Employment Qualifications

Any employer can be overwhelmed with the number of resumes received for an open position. There could be several applicants with outstanding qualifications to do a job. It can be difficult to determine one that sticks out. At the basic level, the background check is to determine if information provided by an applicant is true and accurate. It also helps paint a picture about the applicant beyond what is on paper or discovered in a short interview. Previous employers give an idea of what kind of work habits an applicant has. References can provide information on personal characteristics.

Protecting the Organization

The background check can be considered as a preemptive measure to ensure the integrity of the organization and the safety of employees. Individuals may not be appropriate for certain positions due to some aspect of their history. Someone with a criminal background may not be appropriate for a security officer position. If someone has had issues with substance abuse, they may not be able to work in a hospital with accessibility to drugs and medication. Certain kinds of information can only be found with a background check.

Legal Issues with Background Checks

One of the most important aspects of the background check is that information is gathered for job related purposes. Some activities of a background check may not be necessary. It is easy for an organization to go overkill in a background check to err on the side of caution. Before a background check is initiated, evaluate what the purpose is for it. Certain information such medical and credit history require written consent from the applicant.

The Federal Credit Report Act (FCRA) and certain state laws generally require the employer to make certain disclosures to the applicant, and to obtain the written or electronic consent of the person to be checked prior to conducting the check.

Generally, before obtaining a consumer report, an employer must:

• Disclose to the applicant or employee that it plans to obtain a consumer report or investigative consumer report and that the report will be used solely for employment purposes,
• Obtain written authorization from the applicant or employee,
• Inform the individual of his or her right to request additional information on the nature of the report, and
• Include a box that the individual may check to receive a copy of the report.

Click here to download Interview Question Guidelines.

Background checks may be somewhat different for applicants and should be planned on a case by case basis; however, they must be consistent for all candidates. If an applicant feels they were discriminated against for not being selected for a job, they can file a lawsuit against the hiring authority. If subject to review, any background investigation needs to reflect being strictly part of the hiring process based on ability and not personal private information.

The background investigation can be an essential part of the hiring process. It is a tool that helps identify qualifications of applicants. The hiring authority needs to take care in collecting information to get what they require without violating the privacy of applicants.

Brad Havemeier is the President of Gulfshore Insurance and works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk management and insurance guidance.

Tags: , , ,