Have you ever wished you knew something important before you made a mistake?
Important parts of the hiring/re-hiring and management component of a company include background checks and screening. Being thorough about checking into your workforce and continually monitoring, can make a difference. Being diligent about screening can often help your business avoid complex HR situations, and liability nightmares.
A solid background check plan means you are more likely to eliminate potential employees who would pose risk to the workplace. Background screening can help identify false qualification claims and activities that would be detrimental to a business.
According to a recent study, 67% of job applications and resumes in the U.S. contain misrepresentations.
(Source: American Psychological Association)
This article highlights mistakes that happen too often in the screening of employees, so you can avoid them.
1. Purging documents too soon
Be sure to secure the confidentiality of the information. Retain relevant documents in a secure manner for a period that complies with applicable state and federal laws and regulations. Note that the FCRA’s statute of limitations states an individual must make a claim within two years after learning about a violation. If the violation is not discovered within five years of the violation date, the statute bars an action.
Employers who purge the systems too often risk tossing important documentation that’s priceless if an individual files a claim. Lack of evidence can put the employer on the losing end of any claim!
2. Ignoring adverse action processes
If an employer considers an adverse employment action (declining to hire the person) based in whole or part on information in the background report, they must:
a) notify applicant
b) provide a copy of the background report
c) provide “A Summary of Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” (Referred to as “Pre-Adverse Action”)
Applicant may contact the background screening company to dispute any information in the background report.
The background screening company re-investigates disputed items and issues an updated report to employer and applicant.
Employer reviews the updated report, making the final employment decision. If the employment decision is adverse, a notice of adverse action is sent to applicant (referred to as “Final Adverse Action.”) Note that there needs to be reasonable time (usually at least 5 business days) between the Pre-adverse action letter and the Adverse Action letter.
3. Utilizing irrelevant information
Utilizing criminal history and credit history in your background screening practices to screen for employment has recently come under scrutiny.
Exclusion of applicants based on conviction records is prohibited unless the employer shows business necessity.
To establish business necessity, an employer must be able to show that it considered:
- nature and gravity of the offense or offense
- time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence, and
- nature of the position held or sought.
When screening with a credit report as a component for your background checks, employers need to show the individual’s credit history is relevant to the position.
4. Failing to gain applicant’s consent for screening
A key employer responsibility in compliant background screening practices is for employers to disclose in writing to the applicant that they will be the subject of a background report as part of the employment selection process.
This document needs to stand alone, not included in the employee handbook or the application.
5. Screening erratically instead of consistently.
Practicing inconsistent background screening practices is risky. Be consistent across the board. Hiring managers cannot choose to run checks on some applicants and ignore checking others, because of EEOC guidelines, and overall good sense. Screen everyone in the same manner, and keep a list of the type of background checks that are performed for each job function.
6. Believing everything you read.
Don’t take applicant information at face value. It’s estimated almost half of resumes contain at least one item that isn’t true.
53% of all job applications contain inaccurate information.
(Source: Society of Human Resources Management)
Degree fraud, changing actual employment dates, false references, and inflated job titles are a few of the exaggerations we frequently see on resumes. Screen your talent by looking at resumes and applications with a critical eye and verifying all information.
7. Misunderstanding criminal records
Understanding criminal records is important. Here are three pointers to help you:
Criminal records are filed by name. Criminal records are not filed by social security number, but by name. It’s essential to spell the name correctly, and search any maiden/alias names.
Criminal searches aren’t one stop shopping. Different crimes are held in different courts, county, state, or federal. Searching a county won’t show a crime committed in a different county (even just one county over). Federal charges won’t be found in the county in which they were committed because they are held in federal courts. Finally, the widely utilized National Criminal Database is not a complete database, because some county and states don’t report to a database. Multiple types of criminal searches are required to gain a true picture of the applicant.
8. Not being aware that each state has its own laws.
Some states gather county information, others don’t. Some states have 7 year restrictions. Familiarize yourself with the laws of the particular states where you conduct hiring. This will ensure compliance.
Employers can avoid mistakes by crafting a comprehensive but fair background screening policy. Working with a reputable screening company can be the best way to achieve this. Being educated on the background screening process will allow for higher performing practices, more informed decisions, and a more qualified talent pool.