Regardless of the size of your business, pre-employment screening is a necessary component of your hiring practice to avoid lawsuits and costly hiring mistakes. Gone are the days of a simple reference check and a few phone calls to screen new employees. Amid many different types of concerns, pre-employment screening has been gaining ground as an important component of the hiring process.
Pre-employment screening can include using one or all of the following tools: psychometric testing, background checks and drug testing. All help to determine the background and identity of a new potential employee. Background checking and drug screening are popular methods of pre-employment screening.
Under all circumstances, if you have a pre-employment process in place, do not circumvent the process by starting the person to work until you have results from all components of your pre-employment screens.
Employee Background Check Precautions
Before you delve right into a thorough background check of your new recruit, consider the potential legal land mines that can impact your small business.
Investigating the background of a potential hire can help minimize the risk of negligent-hiring lawsuits. You and your company can be held liable for the actions of a new employee, especially if you did not perform a background check. Prior to beginning a background check, it’s important your business complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
Under the FCRA, your small business is required to have employees sign a disclosure form granting authorization to perform a background check. The FCRA is not just restricted to credit reports but includes all “consumer reports.” Laws will vary from state to state in how and what information can be used during the pre-employment screening process.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines a person with a disability as one who:
- has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- has a record of such an impairment
- is regarded as having such an impairment
Under ADA, employers are restricted in using medical or disability data in the hiring process. Simply put, you cannot ask during the interview or background check about a person’s disabilities. The ADA covers businesses with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.
Important Sources of Data
What is included in a background check can vary. Background checks can access a full range of data including:
- credit records
- academic records; education verification
- Social Security number
- personal references
- driving records
- criminal records from previous residences
- workers’ compensation history
Outsourcing Your Pre-Employment Screening
One solution for small businesses undertaking pre-employment screening is to employ the services of a background checking company. Hiring an outsider can help in finding accurate, complete information on job candidates. Your outsourcing partner should be able to steer you through the legal requirements as well as any federal and state regulations. Another added bonus is under FCRA, your small business can have limited legal immunity by using a third-party background pre-employment screening company.
Whether your business decides to outsource or conduct pre-employment screening practices on your own, take the necessary time to educate yourself on the process. Background screening should now be a standard practice of operating a successful business. It is very important the pre-employment screening process is administered and communicated in a legal and consistent way. Tilson can advise and assist with any aspect of your pre-employment process; just give us a call: 800.276.3976.