Background screening is an essential part of the hiring process, and a valuable tool that helps identify an applicant’s qualifications and understand their relevant past. Employers have an obligation to learn about the candidates they are evaluating for hire. There is also a duty to ensure a potential hire does not have an adverse history that could raise a red flag for potential harm to a business or post a safety risk to employees and clients.
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Businesses that lack a screening program put themselves at risk for potential legal consequences associated with poor hiring choices. If information should surface that an employee is unfit for the job, a business can be held liable for negligent hiring. No business is immune from negligent hiring situations due to substandard hiring practices.
Negligent hiring is based on the premise that employers have an obligation to protect employees and clients from harm or injury (or “foreseeable” acts) caused by an employee. If a company fails to conduct a background check prior to hiring and an employee commits a crime, the employer assumes the liability for the employee’s actions. Therefore, it’s necessary for employers to perform due diligence and conduct background checks on applicants and employees, regardless of business size.
Another reason for instituting a background screening program is to know if a candidate has a criminal history or not. A legally compliant screening program should be able to verify if the candidate has a criminal past that may adversely affect essential job duties or pose an unnecessary risk to fellow employees or the public.
Some general best practices to keep in mind include:
- Create a background screening policy and put it in writing
- Comply with legal guidelines. Courts do not take ignorance of the law into account
- Apply consistent and specific screening methods for each job
- Establish criteria to evaluate background check results
- Conduct regular audits of your screening program
IntelliCorp offers specific packages to help simplify your choices and ensure a comprehensive screen. Options to customize are available.
Part of complying with legal guidelines includes abiding by popular ‘ban the box’ laws. These laws generally prohibit an employer from asking a candidate about any criminal history prior to a first interview, or in some cases, prior to a conditional offer of employment. With 35 states and over 150 municipalities now having some form of ‘ban the box’, it’s essential that employers understand their responsibilities. Even if your business resides in an area not affected by ‘ban the box’, it may be a good idea to prepare for that eventuality by modifying your hiring practices and procedures. When in doubt, speaking with a legal professional versed in employment law is always advised.
Employers can also use a background screening report to determine if an applicant has been honest on the job application or resume. Supplying false information is often a red flag for employers and can be an indicator of potential risk.
With the job market becoming increasingly competitive, individuals are more inclined to embellish or omit various aspects of their history to appear more lucrative to employers and recruiters. According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 58% of employers have caught a resume lie, with the most common relating to:
- Embellished skill set
- Embellished responsibilities
- Dates of employment
- Job title
- Academic degree
- Companies worked for
Only a comprehensive screening will catch many of these resume embellishments.
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Once a poor hiring decision has been made, it can affect an organization in many ways:
- Wasted time and resources
- Employee morale
- Expensive re-boot of candidate search
- Potential to negatively affect organization brand
Usually to replace an employee will cost around 20% of the employee’s average salary. This is time and money that organizations cannot waste.
According to a survey by Robert Half, 95% of employers feel that a poor hiring decision affects the morale of the whole team. The survey also showed that managing a bad hire can take 17% of a supervisor’s time.
Employers also need to obtain a thorough understanding of a prospective employee’s history, particularly if that person will have access to company systems, applications, or financial and personal information. Fraud covers a lot of ground and can be a difficult problem to identify. When a fraudulent act is committed by an employee, it makes matters even worse. While cases are uncovered and reported, most go undetected until it is too late.
Unfortunately, some businesses deem fraud as a cost of doing business. And many don’t want negative publicity for being a victim of fraud. It causes widespread embarrassment. Fear of client loss and creditors is of major concern. The risk of fraud can be offset with properly designed policies and procedures that are embraced company-wide.
Another issue is workplace drug use, which can dramatically impact an employee's ability to contribute to a company's success. Substance abuse can lead to absenteeism, tardiness, employee turnover, attitude problems, low productivity, workplace injury, crime and violence. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. (NCADD), drug abuse costs employers $81 billion annually. And the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has revealed that of the 22.4 million current illicit drug users aged 18 or older in 2013, 15.4 million (68.9 percent) were employed either full or part time. Testing your employees can help prevent and detect workplace drug abuse. Further, regardless of the size of a business, it is still necessary for companies to be aware of the effects of substance abuse at work.
Background checks should always be a component of a company’s overall goal to minimize risk. An employer’s obligation to maintain a safe working environment arises from legal principles. While not all states or industries require background checks, the potential for lawsuits and corporate liability for negligent acts reinforces the importance of due diligence in hiring practices. As the demand for background checks continues to increase, learning the legalities involved and implementing the right screening policies and procedures can set a benchmark for your business.
Finding a background screening provider that has the proper level of expertise is vital.
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Training is a very important component for anyone using screening and helps ensure you get the most out of your program. IntelliCorp is committed to offering the training and education you need.