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Finer points of employee background checks

Aug 13, 2013 Quinn Thomas

Finer points of employee background checks

The background screening process is often complex and difficult to navigate, especially for companies that do not have the subject matter expertise necessary to conduct smooth checks in a timely fashion. Additionally, the risks of not carrying out proper background screening protocols are vast and varied, ranging from the hiring of a dangerous applicant to lost opportunities to onboard talented individuals because the check took too long.

This is why companies that do not feel entirely comfortable with background check best practices should always consider outsourcing the tasks to qualified professionals and firms. Between the oversight of enforcement agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the requirement to maintain a safe and comfortable workplace, using a professional screening firm can offer substantial peace of mind.

Know how the laws apply

Fisher and Phillips LLP recently published a rundown of some of the more critical laws and statutes that apply to criminal background screening, as well as the use of credit checks. According to the law firm, each state will have varied statutes related to the use of criminal histories in the onboarding process, and companies need to establish policies that are in line with both localized and federal rules and regulations.

The source suggested establishing which types of criminal histories would make an applicant the wrong choice before conducting any screening protocols. This way, the firm will be able to back its decision to not hire an individual based upon his or her criminal history, which could help to avoid a serious lawsuit coming from the federal government.

Additionally, the use of arrest and credit histories are highly regulated when it comes to employee screening, and companies must only use information that could directly relate to an applicant's ability to complete responsibilities. Fisher and Phillips LLP asserted that organizations should always research the federal and state guidelines for best practices of arrest and credit history checks before conducting any, especially as certain industries will fall under varied compliance requirements.

What's happening in Texas?
As most states have unique background screening protocols, businesses in different localities will have to adhere to a specific set of standards. LAW360 reported that Texas employers have recently gone under a new law when it comes to screening, called HB 1188, which is intended to assist businesses and applicants who have criminal records.

According to the source, employers will need to ensure that they maintain a safe working environment by checking up on sexually violent histories, as well as aggravated assault and offenses committed while executing duties similar to those of the job in question.

However, the news provider explained that the new law will protect employers who have decided to give convicted criminals a second chance, so long as the hiring decisions were made safely.

LAW360 added that employers in Texas will need to ensure that they are still following the federal and existing state guidelines of hiring best practices and regulations. When in doubt, outsourcing the task to a firm that specializes in the language of the law will always be the best option.