The quick answer to this question is “Yes,” but there are many factors that can come into play when performing these checks.
The foundation for doing a background check on a minor is to get parental consent. Nevertheless, consent doesn’t guarantee success. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “Even when parental consent is obtained, not all records an employer usually requests in these screenings will be available on minors. For example, the majority of criminal records for minors are sealed, making them unattainable.”
So, what options can employers pursue?
- If a minor was convicted as an adult, a broader range of criminal records will be available.
- Minors generally are unable to obtain credit until age 18, but if they did get a loan, perhaps purchasing a car with a parental co-signer, they may have a credit history.
- Past employment and educational records should be available.
- Provided the minor has worked—or even volunteered—employers may be able to obtain professional references. The process here is the same as for adults. Ask the minor to provide the name and contact information for employers or supervisors of the work, as well as express permission to contact them. (Three references is the ideal number, if possible.)
- Lacking a professional reference, personal references may be an option.
In essence, when hiring minors, employers may need to adjust their pre-employment screening policies and practices in recognition of the information they will have available for review. Employers who hire minors should draft a screening policy—with the assistance of an employment law attorney—to protect the employer’s interests.