Background Screening

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) have made employers hypervigilant about background checks. Some companies have taken a “once and done” stance regarding these checks. Many other organizations renew employee background checks on a regular basis.

Background check renewal is especially important for organizations dealing with vulnerable populations (e.g. children; students; the elderly). It’s also smart for those who work 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 normally doesn’t work. Most employees simply won’t volunteer that information.

There are no federal guidelines regarding background rechecks, so employers need to be careful when implementing the checks. On the one hand, the frequency of rechecks will vary based upon the nature of the company or institution, the customers or population it serves, and the types of positions employees hold. For example, many law enforcement agencies do background rechecks every five years. Churches and schools generally perform them more frequently, within a two-to-five year range.

Establishing and publishing a policy that makes sense, incorporating it into an employee handbook and specifically stating how often renewal of background checks will occur is one approach. If the period will vary depending upon the job description, it’s best to state it in writing, and ensure that all personnel impacted by the rechecks sign a document acknowledging that they have read and understood the policy.

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 running the “once and done” check. 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.