Human resources topics of interest to small businesses.
By Renée Bucklin
The truth is, we live in a distrustful age. Whether through personal experience or hearing the stories of others, you know that not every applicant tells the “whole truth” about their background. That’s why you need to conduct pre-employment background checks.
Things you need to know vary with the type of jobs you have or the kind of business you run. No matter what your situation, you should take basic precautions to protect yourself from theft, liability, and harm to your employees.
Failing to conduct background checks on potential employees can result in negligent hiring suits, a damaged reputation and financial loss. Negligent hiring lawsuits arise when an employee’s actions harm someone. Even though the employee caused the harm, you may be liable. A resulting lawsuit can wreck havoc on your company’s budget and ruin its reputation.
Federal and state laws require that background checks be conducted for certain jobs, such as anyone working with children, the elderly or the disabled. Many state/federal contracts require employees to have a security clearance. While you may not fit into that category, you should conduct a basic background investigation.
Background reports can range from a verification of an applicant’s Social Security number to a detailed account of their history and acquaintances. Many of the sources are public records created by government agencies. At the least, you should find out if the applicant has a criminal record and a valid social security number. If your business fits one of the categories covered under the federal and state laws, you may want to also know about driving records, professional license records, and sex offender lists.
The internet has made obtaining background information much easier. There are sites where you can search public records yourself. However, you need to use caution in checking criminal records. Information offered to the public by web-based brokers is not always accurate or up-to-date. There are also companies that can do the searches for you. One free website I found is www.backgroundcheckgateway.com . If you want to outsource the function, check out www.bestbackgroundchecks.com or www.ussearch.com. Expect to pay from $25 for a state record check to $40 and up for other background checks.
There are some regulatory requirements related to background check information, such as EEOC, INS, and OSHA implications and privacy rights of applicants. For more information about how the background check process can affect you, call Bucklin Human & Administrative Resources at 401-885-4752. (Companies and/or websites mentioned are not personally endorsed by BHAAR.)