Pre-employment background checks are more than just a way of avoiding bad hires; they’re also corporations’ best bet for beating negligence court cases. This article reviews why more and more corporations are hiring third party employee background check companies, rather than conducting background screenings in-house. Read on to discover the benefits corporations enjoy by outsourcing their employment background screening.
If an internal employee does international background check your employee background checks, workplace drama can ensue. New hires will be less likely to trust their co-workers charged with employment screening duties. Third party background screenings go a long way in preventing mistrust and gossip. Moreover, they show applicants and employees that you are dedicated to even-handed, fair treatment.
Did you know that some states require employees to provide applicants with a copy of their employment background screening, even if it’s not specifically requested? Or that it’s illegal to base a hiring decision on court cases that did not result in convictions? Your company could be sued if you fail to follow the letter of the law as far as employee background checks are concerned. Yet few HR managers have the time or legal expertise to avoid all potential lawsuits. For this reason, increasing numbers of companies are outsourcing their employment background screening to vendors who have spent decades focused on these issues. Doing so typically results in fewer costly hiring mistakes.
Beyond preventing legal mistakes, outsourcing background screening also grants companies exemption from lawsuits. The federal Fair Credit reporting Act (FCRA) promises legal immunity for companies that choose to outsource their employment background checks. In other words, your company can avoid lawsuits citing hiring negligence, privacy invasion, and defamation if you outsource your background procedures.
It would likely take a full-time employee months to research how to legally, respectfully, thoroughly carry out employment background checks. Then, it might take them another few months to locate the investigative resources needed to methodically do employment background screening.
In contrast, third-party, professional background screening companies have already developed the understanding and resources needed to effectively run this process, so they can typically deliver the same (or improved) results at a lower cost.
Because professional background check companies specialize in labor investigations, they usually have excellent sources for examining individuals’ history. Having spent hundreds of hours perfecting their screening approach, professional employee screening companies can typically deliver more thorough investigations than can be achieved in-house.
Because they are investigative experts, background check companies offer extra features for their clients, such as adverse action letters. The law states that if you choose not to hire someone based on characteristics such as credit history, you must inform his or her in writing about your decision. An adverse action letter fulfills this duty. Many employment background vendors offer complimentary adverse action letters as part of their employee screening service, saving you time.
All successful enterprises understand the importance of maintaining sound working relationships with their vendors and service providers. But when it comes to the company that handles your background screening, there are legal and regulatory factors that must also be understood and taken into consideration. Consumer reports, such as those that provide informational data during the pre-screening process, fall under the Federal Credit reporting Act; in order for your organization to protect itself and ensure that you and your vendor are in compliance with the Act’s rules and regulations, it is wise to consider the following points:
Completion of a job application form does not automatically give an employer a background screening authorization. By law, an employer cannot conduct a background screen on a job applicant unless and until they have received a signed background screen authorization form from the applicant. Your vendor should provide you with a template to use as your background screen authorization form that identifies them as the vendor, a FCRA Disclosure Notification, and instructions for the applicant should they want a copy of their background screen report or end up wanting to object to any of the report’s content.
The FCRA requires employers retain copies of signed authorization forms for no less than two (2) years. To assist customers, most vendors will provide you with a method of attaching signed authorization forms directly to the applicant’s profile within their online ordering and reporting system for storage and retrieval purposes. If your vendor or your organization is audited by the Federal Trade Commission, they may ask for copies of applicant signed forms and there may be significant consequences for not having the forms on file.
It is your responsibility to notify an applicant if your organization decides not to hire the applicant because of Adverse Information discovered within their background screen report. A competent vendor will provide you with an adverse Action Letter Template which you can print on your letterhead and provide to the applicant along with a copy of their background screen report. Alternatively, many vendors will provide Adverse Action Letters and report mailing as a service on your behalf for a very small fee.
When Selecting a Vendor…
Your best insurance against adverse legal and regulatory issues is contracting with a reputable service provider who is current with, understands and complies with the Act. There are thousands of screening vendors across the country ranging from small to very large. Most are members of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners – ensure you select a member in good standing by checking their status with the National Association for Professional Background Screeners. Ensure your vendor is licensed and bonded and can respond satisfactorily to the following questions:
A competent vendor should be able to demonstrate that they regularly monitor and proactively advise customers of changes to hiring laws; that their team members all have their FCRA certification; and be able to provide you with a detailed overview of their quality assurance procedures.
Your vendor should provide you with technical and business process descriptions of the security protocols for the secure online system (https: //) you will be using to order and review background reports and should have a policy in place that requires regularly scheduled password changes for Users. Your agreement with and training from your vendor should include specifications which cover Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) Disposal Rules in regard to your having appropriate measures in place to dispose of sensitive information derived from consumer reports.
One in ten criminal background checks will generate a ‘hit’ and a reputable company will have an automated process in place to handle these outcomes, and can instruct applicants who wish to dispute their record. When this happens, the background screening company must react quickly and re-investigate to make sure that correct information has been reported. The applicant has the right to work directly with the background screening company – not you – without cost to you or the applicant.
Although the Federal 1988 Drug Free Workplace Act requires that those organizations that facilitate annual federal contracts in excess of $100, 000 “make appropriate efforts to maintain a drug-free workplace, ” this requirement does not make employee drug testing mandatory. And while any employer can implement a drug screening program which can include traditional urinalysis and or instant drug testing – it must be administered fairly, consistently and be in accordance with federal and your specific state laws. Note that instant drug screening is not permissible in all states, and in those where it is permissible any positive result must be confirmed by a lab. In addition some states (among them, Iowa, Montana and Rhode Island) have restrictions on random drug testing. Your vendor should be able to advise you on these where required.
Draft and distribute an employee Guide to all employees containing details of the company’s new drug screening program. Be sure that your drug screening program takes into consideration federal, state and local laws in regard to pre-employment, for-cause and/or on-going random drug testing. Have every employee sign an acknowledgement receipt of the new program information. HR should file the signed receipts or digitize and store the signed receipts for future reference if ever necessary.
Provide every employee (and include within the on-boarding process of new hires) an “evergreen” Drug Screen Request and Release Form which must be completed, signed and returned to HR. An evergreen Request and Release Form gives the company the right at any time to order a drug screen on an employee/new hire and also permits the company to re-run drug screens if an employee is being considered for a pay increase or new job role, without having to obtain a new Form each time a screen is to be conducted. Again, the program must be based upon your specific state laws. HR should file the signed R&R Forms or digitize and store the signed forms for future reference if ever necessary.