3 Background Check Compliance Tips for 2017

Marketing Specialist

Moving through 2017, employers and human resources leaders can continue to expect changes to their background screening process and policies.  The new year is always an ideal time to take stock of emerging best practices and any newly passed regulations that may impact  an employer’s hiring and screening practices.

While some of these topics may not be new, PreCheck’s Vice President of Compliance Vu T. Do recommends that employers and HR leaders closely consider the following three tips:

1. Proper Background Check Disclosure Forms

The disclosure requirement under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a key step in the criminal background screening process that remains under great scrutiny and continues to be aggressively litigated. The FCRA regulates both companies that create background checks as well as the employers that use them.  When employers utilize background checks to make employment decisions, providing proper disclosures to applicants and obtaining written consent from them before ordering a background check are two critical and fundamental steps in the process. In addition, they must certify this and other compliance requirements to their screening provider. 

It is imperative that disclosure forms are on a separate, stand-alone document that does not include any extraneous information. This means employers must not add extra verbiage or combine the disclosure with the employment application or any other documents. In an online process, the disclosure information should be presented on a separate screen and not include any other information.  There’s been far too much litigation in this space for employers to claim they did not know. Do explains that “these responsibilities are assigned to the end-user of consumer reports under the FCRA and represent potential legal exposure for employers if they fail to comply. Even if template disclosure and authorization forms are provided by a screening company, it is ultimately the employer’s legal duty, so they should have their counsel review and approve those forms.”

2. Continuous Screening

While conducting pre-employment background checks is an important step to any organization’s hiring success, employers are finding that it’s simply no longer enough. “As employers become increasingly familiar with implementing pre-employment background screening programs, they will continue to think beyond the initial screen,” Do says. The information collected and verified pre-hire only represents a snapshot in time. Employers  want continued peace of mind once the applicant becomes an employee.

In highly scrutinized industries like healthcare where employee arrests are commonly reported on the evening news, that type of unwanted attention fuels a growing trend for healthcare employers to run post-hire screening, Do continues. “But while employers may be ready to adopt continuous screening or re-screening, the success and efficacy of such a program is dependent on a handful of considerations, most notably, determining how to treat previously undiscovered results returned on existing employees. Additionally, employers that rely on screening firms to perform its criminal history checks, whether on applicants or existing employees, must comply with their FCRA responsibilities in both scenarios.”

3. Ban the Box Legislation

Ban the Box will remain a prevailing topic in 2017. In fact, 24 states and over 150 cities and counties have already adopted some form of ban the box legislation. This movement aims to provide applicants a fair chance by removing the conviction history question on the job application and delaying the background check inquiry until later in the hiring process.

Although some studies suggest that Ban the Box initiatives may actually harm the employment prospects of the very groups they intend to help, passage of Ban the Box legislation continues at an unrelenting pace, Do says. “For employers operating out of multiple jurisdictions, some of which may be subject to Ban the Box requirements, adoption across the entire organization appears to be the preferred approach to ensure compliance and consistency.”

However, compliance may not be as simple as removing the criminal inquiry from the employment application. “Even if the question is deferred to a more appropriate time in the evaluation and hiring process, the many variations and requirements of differing Ban the Box and Fair Chance Act initiatives lend complexity to a large employer’s compliance efforts,” Do says.

Today, it’s absolutely critical for employers to work closely with counsel to ensure ongoing compliance. Navigating this minefield of varying requirements is simply too risky for HR to go it alone. When was the last time you reviewed your background check policy? Contact us today to learn how PreCheck can help you implement an effective healthcare specific background screening program tailored for your organization.

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