Background Screening Basics


Background Screening / Background Check Items

Background Screening

Background screening is a series of policies, practices, and procedures designed to minimize the probability of hiring dangerous, dishonest, unfit, or unqualified job candidates while at the same time helping to identify those job candidates who are capable, trustworthy, and best suited to the requirements of an open position. Background screening that uses a series of overlapping tools, resources, and information realizes due diligence requires multiple approaches. Background screening is an essential function that supplements the process of identifying, recruiting, attracting, and retaining top performers.

Due Diligence – Background Screening

Every employer large or small has the obligation or the duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of others when they hire. The legal description of the duty of care is called “due diligence.” The employer’s duty to exercise due diligence means the employer must consider if a potential new employee represents a risk to others in view of the nature of the job. Background screening shows due diligence.

Negligent Hiring

An employer can be sued for “negligent hiring” when they hire someone that they either knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care “should have known,” was dangerous, unfit, or unqualified for the job.

Companies Using Background Screening

A 2012 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found nearly 70% of organizations conduct criminal checks on all job candidates. Other key findings of the survey included:

  • 69 percent of organizations conduct background checks for positions with fiduciary and financial responsibilities.
  • 66 percent conduct background checks for positions with access to highly confidential employee information.
  • 52 percent of organizations conducted background checks on job candidates to reduce legal liability for negligent hiring.
  • 49 percent conducted background checks to ensure a safe work environment for employees.

Problems Caused by Bad Hires

Problems Caused by Bad Hires include:

  • Economic Fallout
  • Resume Fraud
  • Applicant Lies
  • Replacement Costs & Damage Control
  • Litigation & Attorney Fees
  • Workplace Violence
  • Shareholder Suits, Corporate Fraud & Honesty Issues
  • Employee Theft & Fraud
  • Embezzlement

Problem Employees

Many employee problems are caused by “problem employees.” Background screening seeks to address these questions:

  • Do you really know who you are hiring?
  • Have you ever had a problem employee?
  • Do you know how to avoid hiring one?
  • How do you avoid hiring someone with falsified credentials or an inappropriate criminal record?
  • How do you comply with the myriad of state and federal laws dealing with privacy and hiring discrimination?

Who Benefits from Background Screening?

Background screening benefits anyone who hires or wants to be hired, and applies to any type of work engagement: employees, volunteers, independent contractors, and temporary workers. Employers who hire the highest quality applicants to maintain a safe and profitable workplace for everyone’s benefit. Background screening benefits job applicants who do not wish to work in an environment where the co-workers represent a safety risk. Background screening contains the needed tools and best practices to obtain and use the needed accurate and actionable information vital to the hiring process. Human Resources professionals, hiring managers, and recruiters, as well as volunteer, youth, and faith based organizations will gain knowledge and benefit from background screening.

Background Screening Must be Done Legally

With background screening, it is not enough for an organization to merely obtain relevant and accurate information on applicants.  The critical point is that the information be obtained, protected, and used legally. The whole area of background screening is controlled by legislation, litigation, and governmental regulation. Employers need to be aware of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and a host of state laws involved in regulating background checks. To learn more, visit the BackgroundPro Resources page.

Background Screening is Necessary

Employers must know whom they are hiring . Ask any labor lawyer, human resource manager, or security professional whether an employer should engage in background screening and their response is that background screening is an absolute necessity. The exercise of due diligence is a must in today’s environment, and proper due diligence requires a complete and thorough background screening. Both employers and applicants have learned that background screening is an absolute necessity in today’s business world to keep firms safe and profitable. Unless a firm engages in due diligence background screening  in hiring, it is a statistical certainty that the firm will eventually hire someone with a criminal record.

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