The primary advantage of a pre-employment background check is that it makes a hiring disaster less likely. A thorough check discourages fakers, who may drop out to avoid being embarrassed, and exposes dishonest applicants who choose to brazen it out. A background check can save your company from a negligent-hiring lawsuit by weeding out applicants with a history of violence or drug use. However, you must conduct a background check carefully, advises the Small Business Administration. Law protects many aspects of employee privacy, and violating an applicant’s rights may open you up to legal action.
A background check may reveal that the job seeker is applying for a position under a false identity. A background check may include a Social Security trace, verification of an applicant’s I-9 Form — or his eligibility to work in the United States — and a search against global homeland security databases.
Education and Job Experience
A background check also verifies that the applicant actually attended the schools listed on his resume and that he did, in fact, attain any degrees and licenses that he claims. It also verifies information about his past work experience-that he worked there at all, how long he worked there, how satisfied his employers were with his performance, his job title, his salary and any career advancement.
Criminal and Legal History
According to the SBA, laws regulating criminal background checks for potential employees vary from state to state. It recommends hiring a lawyer for guidance. You can’t gather arrest record information that’s over seven years old, even though it’s a matter of public record. You can, however, search for criminal convictions. A background check can reveal information such as driving records involving a company vehicle, civil lawsuits less than seven years old, sex offender data for at-risk jobs, and county, state or federal convictions. Drug and alcohol tests can identify applicants with substance abuse or alcoholism problems.
The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act protects an employee’s history of paid tax liens and any collections data that are over seven years old — but only if you hire a consumer reporting agency to collect it. If you do the research in-house, these employee protections don’t apply, according to the Bankrate.com website. The FCRA also requires that you obtain an employee’s written consent before getting his credit report. A potential employee’s bankruptcy history may be included in a background check, but note that federal law forbids discrimination against potential employees who have filed for bankruptcy.