Background Checks

It hasn’t been that long since employers who were interested in recruiting someone for employment would do a background and reference check without telling the individual he or she was being considered for the job. The rationale was that not informing the candidate meant the employer wouldn’t have to explain why a job offer wasn’t made, should something negative turn up in the background or reference report. In many instances where a background check was made without the prospective candidate’s permission, the individual would never even know he was being considered for the job!

This approach has been altered rather dramatically over the years. No longer can an employer carry out a background and reference check without the prospective candidate’s knowledge. Of course, the nature of the employment marketplace has changed, as well.

Employers are less reluctant to advertise that they have vacancies to fill, and most (but not all) employers know they must obtain written consent from the prospective candidate before starting a background or reference check.

If a third-party vendor is used, the Fair Credit Reporting Act specifies that an “Adverse Action Notice” must be sent to the candidate for employment. It stipulates, “If a company denies an applicant work based on findings in a report, notification of the decision must be given to the potential hire so they can dispute any inaccurate information.” Applicants also have a right to receive a free copy of the document within 60 days of the decision.

However, before any of that can take place, the prospective candidate must give his express permission for anything to be verified or checked. Times have changed!