Background Checks

With the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) making employers hyper-vigilant about background checks and how they conduct them, some companies may be tempted to take a “once and done” stance regarding these checks. In reality, many organizations should renew employee background checks on a scheduled basis.

This activity is especially important for organizations dealing with vulnerable populations (e.g. children; students) and is prudent for those working in heavily regulated or confidential industries, such as credit card processing or military contracting. Having a policy that requires workers to notify the employer if they are found guilty of a criminal offense isn’t sufficient. Some employees simply won’t volunteer that information.

There are no federal guidelines regarding background “rechecks,” so employers must be cautious when implementing these procedures. The frequency of renewals will vary based upon the nature of the organization, the customers or population it serves, and potentially the type of position an employee holds. Many law enforcement agencies renew background checks every five years. Churches and schools generally do it more frequently—in the two to five year range.

Establish and publish a policy, incorporated into your employee handbook, that states how often renewal of background checks will occur. If the period will vary depending upon the job description, state that in writing, as well, and ensure that all personnel impacted by the rechecks sign the document.

Rechecking the background of an employee spontaneously, or at an interval not in sync with the published schedule, can land an employer in as much trouble as improperly running the check in the first place. For more information or to discuss an evaluation of your company’s current screening processes, we invite you to give us a call at (765) 932-5917.