Employment background checks

Here are 8 essential checks employers should do before employment

The average amount of time Britons spend in a job is eight years. This kind of mobility, can see employees move across counties and puts an added burden on the recruitment process. A new burgeoning industry has emerged because of this to provide reports on  candidates background within the workforce. For some small business owners who don’t have a dedicated human resources team to rely on it can be really useful to outsource this task.


1. Why do people do checks and what checks are they?

If you’re an employer you will want peace of mind over who you are potentially hiring and therefore you may choose to run a background check. This is normally done when you’re ready to make an offer however, some companies choose to run checks on a few shortlisted candidates to help chose between them.

One of the primary reasons that organisations make the effort to screen people is to prevent workplace theft or violence and therefore avoiding liability. This is the main reason that 7 out of 10 employers chose to conduct at least a criminal check on all job candidates, according to a 2012 survey by the Society for Human Resources Management.


2. What kinds of employment background checks are there?

The most widely recognised types of pre-employment screening are criminal credit reports and records checks. Other things people check are driving records, reference checks and past addresses. Searches may also include sex offender registry and credential verification depending on the type of job being advertised.


3. How do employment background checks work?

Credit Ratings Agencies usually perform the checks for employment purposes and are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Unfortunately there is not currently one single database that can run all the checks.You will be able to find data providers who  can check things like county court judgements, financial records and credit histories.


4. What legal steps are there when doing a background check?

There are four main procedures you have to follow to ensure you are doing it in a lawful way. 

Firstly, all candidates must be made aware that a check is being made about them. 

Secondly, you need to get their consent in writing and ensure they receive full notification of the agency conducting the check and their rights. The candidate should also provide enough personal information for the check to get underway.

Thirdly, once the candidate has provided enough information is it time to start the investigations. 

And last but by no means least, once you receive all the information back from the different agencies it is your chance to review the information. The report you receive will usually say either “clear” (go ahead and employ) or “consider” (where something concerning has been discovered) depending on the agency you’ve appointed.


5. What are the costs associated with background checks?

Often agencies choose to charge a flat fee for a variety of checks. Read the terms and conditions carefully before going ahead to check for any hidden extras you may be expected to pay for bt not be made aware of at the start.


6. What should I do if the checks reveals something negative?

If the checks come back clear there is obviously nothing to worry about. However there is something that informs your decision to not hire them then you need to notify the candidate by law of this and the reason why behind it. The candidate then has the right to dispute the report within 7 days of being notified. 


7. Do candidates have any rights during the background check process and if so what are they?

Candidates do have the right to dispute the report, which means the data agency used would need to repeat the check. Special attention would of course be needed for the points that led to you choosing to not employ them. This could be anything such as seeking clarification on professional or educational qualifications, disputing a county court conviction or verifying a mistaken identity. With a lot of places the process can be repeated twice if necessary As long as the proper steps are taken to inform the candidate and the dispute rules are followed, you can disqualify them safe in the knowledge that you’re FCRA compliant.


8. Should a candidate be disqualified if something negative is found?

Background checks should be used to help when making a decision to hire, however, it should not be used to make that decision for you. Most companies develop their own hiring policies and different positions require different regulations and requirements. It is important to remember that when background check is commissioned it should only be viewed as a guide and not a decision maker.

We hope you find this information helpful but please keep in mind that it does not constitute legal advice and we can not be held responsible for any inaccuracies or damages that may result.

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