With so many more people out there, applying for jobs, moving across states and even emigrating to and from other countries, it’s become more and more common for employees and prospective employees to be hiding shady histories. Sometimes, they’re simply embarrassed about something they did in the past, but sometimes, those prospective employees may even have a federal criminal record.
Just because you’re hiring locally does not mean you’re immune, and there are some important things you should know.
1. You May Never See the Full Picture
In most U.S. States, arrest records and expunged or sealed records cannot be accessed by employers. In many states and cities, it is frowned upon to ask about criminal records at all until much later in the hiring process.
2. It Might Not Be Relevant, But You Won’t Know Unless You Ask
Many employers don’t realize that there are strict laws related to criminal record use in employee background screening. In most cases, it’s illegal to discriminate against an employee because of their criminal record simply because they have one. Employers must be able to prove that there’s a direct link between the job that has been advertised, and the offence that the prospective employee committed.
If, for instance, a prospective employee was convicted of a fraud related charge, they may be unsuitable to work in finance or in a bank, but it would be unfair to discriminate against them if hiring a customer service representative or for another position where handling money is not required.
3. Records Can Be Hard to Find
Many people don’t realize just how difficult it is to conduct a thorough criminal record check. There may be information on various different databases, and if you don’t know where to enquire, you could completely miss big parts of the process.
4. You Are Required to Be Above Board
One of the federal regulations that govern employee background screening processes requires employers to advise prospective employees that they will be conducting them. Often, this can be enough to encourage employees to admit their history and be honest with you. While it is still recommended to conduct a check, their honesty or lack thereof can be an important factor in a hiring decision.
5. Transfers Can Be Difficult
If you are hiring for an international company, and your employees may be required to work in different countries, you definitely need to get their criminal history. In some cases, relatively minor offences can prevent your employees from being allowed into other countries. For instance, a DUI makes a person inadmissible to Canada, if they need to go there for work purposes!
6. Professional Checks Meet Legal Requirements
One of the most important reasons to conduct professional background and criminal history checks on potential employees is that companies that specialize in this type of check can help to limit your company’s liability. There are very strict regulations about which information can be viewed, by whom, and how it should be disposed of when you’re finished with the process.
If you are hiring, even if you’re only hiring Americans, make sure that you do a criminal background check, and make sure you do it right. Protect yourself, hire fair, and make sure you stay within the law.