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Trends in corporate background screening

Apr 08, 2013 Quinn Thomas

Trends in corporate background screening

Businesses have become increasingly focused on criminal background screening in recent years as more states begin to roll out new rules for a variety of specific industries. For example, New York officials, as well as those from several other states, passed legislation in recent months to increase oversight and stringency of background screening regulations for senior care facilities.

However, companies need to walk the line between security and compliance, as failure to follow a variety of federal regulations, such as those managed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, could lead to crippling sanctions and incurred financial losses. Employers need to ensure that they understand which points should be covered in background screening processes, as well as others that are off limits.

When in doubt, outsourcing the task to a firm that specializes in background screening protocols is often the safest bet, as this will mitigate the risks associated with non-compliant questions and actions. Further, this can streamline the background check process, improving the speed with which results are offered and strengthening the on-boarding process.

New system unveiled in Nebraska

The Lincoln Journal Star recently reported that officials in Nebraska have created and deployed a system with which businesses can conduct criminal background checks on applicants for a low cost. Though the price of this service is similar to the traditional system offered by Nebraska law enforcement, the source noted that the turnaround on results has been dramatically reduced from a week or more to almost instant delivery.

Still, this service provided by the state is not expected to have any impact on employee background screening vendors, as users will only be able to get a quick criminal history for applicants, The Lincoln Journal Star noted. Employers often need much more robust information on applicants before making a final hiring decision, including verified employment histories, which the state's program does not include.

However, it can be useful to establish whether a candidate should be looked at further, depending upon the industry. Once the employer has verified that the applicant's criminal history is aligned with the needs of the business, as well as regulations, screening vendors can be used to verify all other important information.

According to the news provider, the state is working to move the entirety of its services for citizens and businesses to digital formats in hopes of strengthening the efficiency of operations.

Advanced screening technology for retail
The New York Times recently explained how retailers across the nation are beginning to use advanced database technology to track employee thefts. According to the news provider, businesses in this sector felt it would be a strong step in the right direction to establish a collaborative network of security.

While the information in these databases is not comprehensive, with only minute details pertaining to the actual theft and no information related to criminal histories, the source explained that this is expected to help retailers rule out potentially dangerous applicants before making a hire. Again, this will not be a way to replace background screening necessities, but rather and early assessment tool for retail businesses.

The New York Times added that the Federal Trade Commission and other government agencies are beginning to evaluate the legality of these systems, as some worry that privacy protection and portions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act might be compromised by these systems.

Businesses need to ensure that any screening processes they use are in compliance with federal, state and industry-specific regulations, as the source asserted that the FTC has been especially active in working to uncover illegal background checks among employers in recent years. Several major enterprises have incurred losses from fines, as well as lost face, as a result of poor screening policies.