As a Human Resources professional, it’s highly probable that your organization conducts pre-employment and/or employee background screening or is interested in doing so. According to a 2012 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report, 86 percent of companies conduct some type of criminal background check.
Many ERC members work with our Partner, Corporate Screening for their background needs. Matt Jaye, National Sales Manager at CS, shared some information about the background screening industry, how to select a provider, and how technology has affected the industry.
The background screening industry is highly regulated, with laws at the federal, state and local level, as well as industry specific regulations. On the federal level, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates the collection and use of consumer information (including consumer credit information), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) enforce federal regulations.
Employers must also be aware of and comply with state and local laws. More and more, states and local governments are passing “ban the box” legislation, which prohibits asking about criminal past on applications, and may also include other restrictions.
While most of these laws apply primarily to public sector employers, it is becoming more common for lawmakers to also include private employers. In 2015, Oregon became the latest state to pass a “ban the box” law that went into effect on January 1, 2016 and affects private employers.
In Ohio, “ban the box” legislation is still being considered by lawmakers, but on June 1, 2015, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) removed the criminal background question from its applications for state employment, and began requiring hiring decision makers to “weigh common-sense factors that will ensure only recent and relevant criminal records are used to deny workers from state positions.” (Source: NELP)
What information is contained in background reports?
Background screening reports don’t all contain the same information. The information in the report depends on a company’s needs, and as such, they request different searches. Examples of searches include criminal, credit, employment, and reference checks to name a few. Drug and health screenings may also be requested. Additionally, the type of industry the business is in also makes a difference, as certain industries require specific searches.
Not all providers are created equally
It is imperative that employers select a reputable background screening company to work with. What should you look for?
It is important that the information you receive is accurate. As technology continues to advance, more information becomes easily available. But just as important as gathering the information is ensuring its accuracy. As an example, there are many criminal databases available, each containing a myriad of information. But sadly, that information can be outdated or may be incomplete. Using a company that just reports on the information it finds in a criminal database can put your organization at risk. A reputable background screening company will investigate and verify that the information it obtains and reports to its clients is accurate. And of course, as an employer, you should also check on the work of a company to determine if the quality of its work is as you expect.
Is your background screening provider accredited? Many background providers are members of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), but fewer than 10 percent of companies in the industry are accredited. Successfully undergoing the accreditation process is a sign that a company places a high standard on quality, is committed to excellence, and has high professional standards.
Checking with others to find out if a company does quality work is also important, so don’t forget to check references. Prospective customers should ask the company to provide some names of its satisfied customers, then they should follow up by calling those clients and asking pertinent questions.
Pre-employment screening and background checks have come a long way in recent years. Twenty years ago, much of the work was done by hand, on the phone and using fax machines. The internet and other technological advances have changed how background screening is done, while speeding up the report turnaround time.
Technology has also changed how HR professionals work. Many now rely on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to manage recruiting, hiring and employee retention from one platform. And with the rapid technology improvements, technology platforms are now working better together than they ever have before.
As more employers use ATS technology, background screening providers have developed integrated background solutions for many ATS platforms. These solutions allow recruiters and hiring managers to work from a single platform to collect candidate information, submit background requests and receive results. Using an ATS background integration allows backgrounds to be started sooner, saves time and speeds up the hiring process.
Background integrations can also help with compliance issues. A properly designed technology integration can help an employer by creating an automated workflow that ensures sensitive information (such as criminal questions, date of birth, etc.) is only collected at the appropriate points during the background process. As an example, Corporate Screening’s background integration with Oracle Taleo initiates the screening process in the latter stages of hiring, which helps employers comply with EEOC guidelines that suggest employers wait until later in the hiring process before performing background screenings.
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