Periodic background checks a good follow-up to pre-employment screening

Many employers have a “one and done” attitude about background checks for employees. They conduct what they deem to be a thorough pre-employment screening before someone is hired, and that’s it. There’s never any follow-up background screening, or random drug testing, or periodic driver’s license check.

Is that the safest way to run a business? While it’s a great business practice to conduct pre-employment screening, the wise business owner understands that people change, circumstances change and unless you’re periodically checking into things, your staff might have changed – and not for the better.

Employers should follow up their wise hiring practices by implementing safeguards against current employees who could be breaking the law. The most obvious step is to institute a Drug and Alcohol policy that includes random periodic drug testing, if you don’t have one already. And it’s not a bad idea to conduct periodic background checks for current employees and implement pre-hire and periodic screening for temporary or contingent workers as well .


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States propose anti-social media background check laws

Are you requiring job applicants to fork over their social media website login information as part of your company’s pre-employment screening process? While checking social media sites is becoming more and more popular among employers as yet another avenue for finding out all they can about a prospective employee, some state lawmakers and organizations are already gearing up to fight this practice, which they say is an invasion of privacy.

This past week Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) was added to the handful of state representatives across the country who are proposing laws to make this practice illegal. Blumenthal says that his bill, once finished, will include some exceptions, like for federal and local law enforcement agencies, and government agencies that handle national security issues. He did indicate that private companies that receive government contracts would be regulated under the legislation.  

A similar bill in Illinois is backed by the ACLU. Such a law, if it passes, would make it just as illegal for an employer to ask for an applicant’s Facebook password as it is illegal for an employer to ask a woman if she plans to have children.

As we’ve advised before, employers who wish to conduct social media background checks – and the numbers are growing – should tread carefully, so as not to open themselves up to discrimination claims or risk using false information when weighing their hiring decisions.


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Know when to disclose background check policy to potential hires

When should you bring up the background check process?  When you make initial contact with a job applicant? After you have a successful interview? If you do it too soon will you appear to be distrusting and defensive, turning off potentially great employees? If you do it too late will you have wasted precious time considering someone whose background poses too many risks for your company to take?

Background checks are clearly a good business decision, but you need to know how and when to disclose and initiate them, as well as when and how to show the results. The Fair Credit Reporting Act states that an employer must notify an applicant or employee in writing and get written authorization before any pre-employment screening is done.

Other regulations vary from state to state, so make sure you review your company’s policy with a lawyer and follow the letter of the law when it comes to best practices, to avoid any discrimination suits brought on by applicants who were turned down for a job after a background check.

Above all, be open and honest about your policy and the process, and make sure each applicant is given the opportunity to dispute and/or discuss the background check findings before a decision about their employment is made.

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Employment verification takes the padding out of r

When we think of pre-employment screening, employers often think of conducting background checks to turn up any criminal record a job applicant has or running a credit report to see if the potential hire is financially trustworthy. But the pre-employment screening process actually should start with something much simpler — verifying the information contained in the applicant’s résumé.

A lot has changed about the hiring process, but a résumé is still often the first thing you see regarding a potential employee. Yet would-be employees continue to pad their résumé with half-truths and outright lies, which makes employment verification a critical step in the hiring process.

As an employer, you need to do your homework on each and every applicant you are seriously considering, to make sure you’re getting someone with the depth of experience and education they purportedly have. The most common details on a résumé that are “enhanced” include: 

  1. Education. Doublecheck the fact that the applicant received the degree listed from the university listed. Also check to make sure the educational institution is an accredited college or university, not one of the many “diploma mills” out there.
  2. Length they’ve held a title. Sometimes an applicant will list an ending title beside the dates of their employment with a particular company, making it seem like they’ve been in a managerial or executive position for far longer than they have. Find out how long they held the most recent title and what responsibilities they had.
  3. Singular responsibility for group success. Applicants often enhance the contributions they made to a company’s bottom line or new initiative, regardless of how personally involved or responsible they were for that success.
  4. Salary. Make sure the current salary they list is what they’re actually earning, not what they think they’re worth.
  5. Computer skills. Employees know how critical it is to have certain computer-related skills, but listing a bunch of programs and applications in which they’re “proficient,” or saying that they’re “social media savvy” isn’t necessarily the case. Find out whether those specific programs and skills were used at their last job(s), or whether they just think you want them to be knowledgeable in those areas.

With spring sports registration comes spring sport background checks

It’s hard to believe, but winter is waning and spring sports registration is under way in many parts of the country. If your business, school or organization is involved in any way, shape or form with spring sports involving children and teenagers, now is the time to make sure you have — and are following — a clearly stated policy on background checks. Make sure everyone currently on staff has had a thorough background check, and that any new coach, volunteer or job applicant undergoes the same background screening.

Parents will be asking what your policy is, so have handouts on hand to give out as part of the registration process. And be sure to include a phone number and contact person for parents to call with questions or to report any activity they feel is suspicious or worrisome.

Finally, check with your state laws to make sure the type of background checks you’re doing are compliant with state regulations. And get the process under way as soon as possible — many coaches and volunteers tend to drag their feet when it comes to completing and returning the necessary forms. The last thing you want is to have a shortage of eligible coaches when it comes time for the season to start!

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Three tips to get small business on track with background screening

If you’re a small business who has never had a formal policy for background screening employees and applicants, now is the time. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few tips.

  1. Create a policy. The best practices need to be written down and followed across the board, so get an employment background screening policy in writing and put it in the hands of every manager, human resources personnel and employee. Include exactly what types of background checks and reports will be done for each applicant, and for what circumstances or terms of employment. Having something in writing that is followed every single time will help to save you from discrimination claims down the line.
  2. Don’t go it alone. Hire a reputable background screening service that can help to automate and bundle your reports when necessary. Leave it to the experts to get the most comprehensive information on every single employee, every single time.
  3. Regularly reassess. Any good policy gets brought back to the table and scrutinized on a regular basis, and this one is no exception. With the way social media and emerging technology are blurring the lines between professional and personal, it’s a good idea to take a look at your background screening policy regularly to make sure it includes the very best practices related to the very latest screening trends and laws.


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