there’s a lot of red tape and many legalities involved in conducting an employee background check.

An employee background check is more important today than ever before, when you’re recruiting talented workers. In fact, one could argue that they are an essential part of the hiring process.

While we’d all like to take candidates at face value and give them the benefit of the doubt like we did in the good old days, it’s simply not feasible today. Identity theft, resume fraud and a host of other issues are alarmingly prevalent, and companies need to make sure they’re protected against bad hires.

Large companies may be able develop those kinds of in-depth screening processes in house, however, but what about a smaller company? If you don’t have a large HR department who can do it all for you, we’ve got some great tips to develop your own screening system, right here:

> Make it relevant. Criminal record checks should be universal. Credit checks are reasonable for anyone who will be handling money. Health checks may be reasonable for nurses or heavy equipment operators, but if the job doesn’t justify the screening, don’t include it. You’ll save time and money, and avoid potential legal pitfalls.

> Inform applicants about the process upfront, and get their consent. If you don’t, and you start looking into their history, you may be breaking privacy laws yourself!

> Don’t assume that you will be able to access criminal records. Laws vary from state to state, and they may be off limits in your state.

> Remember that while you can look up credit reports and bankruptcies as a part of your employee background check, you might not be able to use that information to rule an employee out. Make sure you check what the law in your state says before you do.

> Also remember that if you do use financial history as a reason for excluding an employee, you do have to give them a copy of the report, and the opportunity to oppose it.

> Medical and workmen’s compensation records may or may not be available to you. If they are, remember that you cannot discriminate on any medical grounds, unless the injury or illness involved interferes with the ability to do the job!

> References and education checks are a fairly standard request from most companies, but remember that the information you get from certain employers and educational institutions may be limited by law.

Military service records are generally off limits, and unless you’re hiring for a very specific type of job where accessing them would be necessary, you’re unlikely to get access at all.

As you can see, there’s a lot of red tape and many legalities involved in conducting an employee background check. Many employees will volunteer information, and most don’t object to the process, as they see it as a valid part of the application process, but it can be a minefield nonetheless.

Try to limit your checks to information that is actually relevant and important to your business, and remember never to break any laws when you conduct your checks. Not only is it a shady business practice, and will get you a bad reputation, but it could land you in very deep legal trouble too!

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