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When should your business do a background check?

When Should Your Business Do A Background Check?
When Does Your Business Need A Background Check?

You’ve finally gotten your business to the point where you need to hire people for help. Should you do a background check? Are you required to do a background check?

It depends on your business. Let’s get started:

You are always required to confirm the identity of the person you hire, even when that person is an American citizen. You are required to verify and collect certain information in order to comply with the Immigration Reform and Control Act, and you must complete the Form I-9 for each employee. You must retain the form for as long as the person is employed by you.

In Florida, background checks are classified as “Level 1” and “Level 2 ”.

Level 1 is a state-only name and social security number based check. Level 2 is a state and national fingerprint-based check that checks applicants against databases for information on arrests, convictions, and incarceration. A Level 2 check may even uncover relevant records that have been sealed by courts, including juvenile convictions and detention.

Level 2 checks are required for employees holding positions of responsibility or trust over vulnerable people, such as the disabled, children, seniors and those that are ill. The fingerprint component of a Level 2 check prevents persons from evading discovery of a conviction through name change or identity theft.

Who determines what a position of responsibility or trust is?
Each state has licensing requirements for certain positions that can involve a Level 1 or Level 2 check. For example, a flower designer may have a Level 1 or no check at all, while a childcare worker – frequently earning the same or less than the flower designer – will have a full Level 2 check.

At the employer’s request, a Level 2 check can include expunged or sealed violations and arrests that didn’t lead to convictions. Level 1 and 2 checks can also include driving or traffic violations, important to the transport industry.

Other industries, such as financial service providers, have industry-specific rules that require checks on liens and bankruptcies in addition to criminal checks.

Some states, such as California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, New York and Washington, prohibit disclosure of convictions that are more than seven years old. This protects potential employees from being dogged by old information but can make it more difficult for employers who have a real business need to avoid hiring convicted felons.

You must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act when doing background checks.

The Act has several technical requirements for compliance, and it’s important that you use only a company that complies with the Act. Some of those requirements are getting a written consent from the applicant and giving specific notice of their rights to applicants, as well as specific notice requirements if you do not hire someone because of their background check results. There are a number of reputable background check providers, and HR Risk Advisors can assist you with selecting a provider.

A Background Check Can Protect Your Business

There are several industries where background checks are not required but are still advisable. For instance, if your employee is going into the home of a client or has access to client property It is advisable that you do a background check to make sure the potential employee has no history of violence or criminal dishonesty. There have been several cases in Florida where employers were found guilty of negligent hiring because they failed to do a background check under these circumstances.

How Do I Perform a Background Check and What’s the Cost?

A background check can range from $15 for a Florida Level 1 search to a several hundred dollars for a Level 2 check.

You can save money by asking the applicant about their criminal conviction if the primary purpose of your background check is to avoid hiring someone with a criminal conviction that concerns you.

If your policy is that a conviction likely disqualifies someone from employment with your company, then. It is better to find out earlier in the selection process. That will save both your Company and the applicant from wasting time; and will have the added benefit of avoiding the expense of the Background Check. Just ask candidates if they have been convicted of any crime and have them describe the circumstances. If it is apparent that the record is disqualifying, then no background check is necessary, and no further consideration of the applicant is required. You’ll be able to weed some applicants out and save time and money by not performing the background checks. You cannot ask about arrests, just convictions. If a background check shows an arrest without a conviction, you cannot consider it in the hiring decision.

Unless there are specific regulations requiring you to refrain from hiring convicted felons, you are permitted to hire them. In fact, you may be eligible for a sizeable tax credit for hiring a recently released felon under the Workers Opportunity Tax Credit.

In considering whether to hire a person with a criminal past, the exercise of common sense is called for. There are many factors to consider. For example, what’s the timing of the conviction? A 30-year-old applicant who was convicted of a drug offense when he was 18 probably shouldn’t be disqualified from consideration for most jobs but if the conviction is more recent then the decision may be different.

What about an applicant for a retail clerk position with a DUI felony conviction? The conviction itself should not disqualify the applicant because it has no connection to the work he is being hired to perform. On the other hand, if the applicant is applying for a driver position, their DUI felony record may be very significant to your decision.

You’ve decided to do a background check. What’s the first step?

Before you meet with prospective employees, find a reputable and accredited Background check provider. HR Risk Advisor can help you with this. Then, using the provider’s forms and processes, you will let the potential hire know that you need a background check, and obtain their written consent.

What should you do with the results of the background check?

The information provided by a check is an invaluable tool in helping you decide to hire or not hire, or to hire with conditions. In some cases, it may be easy: the employee may be clean across the board or may have a disclosure that disqualifies them for the position or any other position with the firm.

In many cases, though, it’s not so clear. You may choose to hire but subject the employee to a longer probationary period and greater supervision, or restrict their access to certain machinery, databases or tasks. Employees with significant disclosures may present a greater risk to your business but may also offer a greater reward as they may be very grateful to you for offering them that chance for employment. Tight labor markets have made many employers re-think their hiring requirements, and you too may need to review and restructure your hiring protocols.

HR RISK ADVISOR can help you navigate your hiring decisions. Call HR RISK ADVISOR at 954-552-5162.