5 Employment Screening Tips

Best Practices for Employers

Businesses and organizations should consider the following best practices for their employment screening program to help ensure compliance with laws and provide a fair and balanced review of an applicant’s background.

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1. Have a screening policy and put it in writing
A well-written comprehensive background screening policy can help a business uniformly enforce hiring standards and procedures, and assist in mitigating legal and compliance risks. It is wise to seek legal guidance to create a written policy. Everyone involved in the hiring process should be trained on the policy and abide by the procedures.

2. Comply with legal guidelines
There are federal, state and local laws that impact the employment screening process. One significant piece of federal legislation employers must comply with is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). It regulates background screening and outlines mandatory procedures employers must follow when obtaining and using consumer reports. Another is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which has published criminal guidelines for background screening. Other federal legislation includes with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), while state and local legislation consists of Ban the Box, Credit Reports, E-Verify and Social Media laws. Consulting with legal counsel is recommended to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and industry requirements.

3. Apply consistent screening methods for each job position
Different jobs may not require the same level of background screening. Employers should refer to the EEOC guidance and its recommended “targeted screen” when conducting background checks. Consider dividing jobs or departments into categories, and then develop position-specific standardized searches. To ensure consistency and avoid possible discrimination charges, all applicants applying for the same job should undergo a background check using identical criteria.

4. Establish criteria to evaluate background check results
Determine the standards that will either qualify or disqualify an applicant, and eliminate judgmental decisions to remain consistent when analyzing results. Examine each case individually. The EEOC recommends employers consider the following factors when interpreting information; nature of the job, amount of time since offense occurred, type of gravity or conduct of the offense, in additional to other criteria. Laws can also vary by state as to how employment screening results can be used in the selection process.

5. Conduct regular background screening program audits
With changes in legislation and new laws being enacted that impact employment screening; companies should regularly review their background check program. Make sure to keep information about job applicants and employees confidential. Being proactive, monitoring legislation and continuously updating screening policies helps better position employers to be consistent and in compliance with all applicable laws pertaining to the hiring process.