Pre-Employment Background CheckRunning a background check on a prospective employee is now an integral part of the hiring process for many businesses.  What some business owners are not aware of are the Federal and state guidelines which dictate how the process of obtaining pre-employment background checks must be conducted.  These processes must be followed as outlined in order to protect the rights of the individuals for whom this information is being sought, and to protect business owners from facing potential legal problems.

The first step in the process is to determine when a pre-employment background check can be run.  Some states and municipalities have enacted “ban-the-box” laws which prohibit employers from asking about a candidate’s criminal history or running any background checks until after at least a first interview or conditional offer.  Employers should research the laws in the municipalities where they operate their businesses to ensure that they remain in compliance.

The second step in the process is to provide the candidate with a written disclosure and obtain their authorization.  In a written disclosure, the candidate will be informed that a background check may be obtained as a condition of employment.  With regards to obtaining a candidate’s authorization, it is very important that employers obtain the applicant’s signed consent BEFORE conducting a background check on the applicant.  The authorization acknowledges that the applicant is allowing the background screening entity to process their background check report.  Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), ALL parts of the authorization must be filled out completely.  Once the candidate has been provided with a written disclosure, AND they sign an authorization form, a background check can be conducted.

If the candidate’s background check comes back clean (free of any criminal convictions, etc.), then the process is now complete.  However, if the background check finds that there is adverse information on the candidate, and the employer decides to deny the candidate employment based on this adverse information, then there is another process to comply with.  This is called the Adverse-Action Process.

The purpose of The Adverse Action Process is to allow applicants the chance to dispute any inaccurate or incomplete information on their background check report.  If adverse information on a report is used in any way by a client to make a negative decision, they MUST take the following actions before rescinding an offer of employment or terminating an employee, etc.  This is a TWO-STEP, mandatory notification process.

  • Step 1: The employer must send the applicant a Pre-Adverse Action Letter (a letter notifying the applicant that based on the results of the background check he/she may be denied employment), a copy of the background check report, and a Summary of Rights.
  • Step 2: After 5 days, if the business does not hear from the applicant, they may then precede with their final employment decision and send the applicant the Adverse Action Letter, which is a letter notifying the applicant that he/she will be denied employment based on the results of the background check.

It is important that all steps be followed when conducting a pre-employment background screening, because failure to do so is a violation of Federal and state laws.

For more information on conducting a background check call 1-800-348-0511 or click here to request a free quote.