Expert’s Guide for Employee background checks

Learn how employee background checks can protect your company from risks and ensure trustworthy hires for a secure work environment.

Expert’s Guide for Employee background checks

Expert’s Guide for Employee background checks
Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Employee background checks are crucial in today’s dynamic workplace landscape. Your workforce is the backbone of your company, driving its success and growth. However, finding qualified and trustworthy employees is becoming increasingly challenging. Surprisingly, over half of job applicants have been found to falsify information on their resumes, primarily concerning work experience, education, skills, and job responsibilities. While this might seem innocuous in certain industries, it can pose significant risks in others, potentially jeopardizing workplace safety and tarnishing your company’s reputation.  

Creating an Employee Background Checks Policy

Step 1: Developing a Comprehensive Policy

Implementing a clear and consistent background check policy is essential for any organization. This policy should outline:

    1. Types of Checks: Determine which background checks are necessary for different positions within your company, tailoring them to suit specific job requirements.
    2. Employment Decisions: Specify how background check results will influence employment decisions, taking into account the nature of the position and the relevance of any past convictions.
    3. Timing of Checks: Decide when background checks will be conducted during the hiring process and whether they’ll be repeated for current employees.

A well-defined employee background checks policy ensures fairness, transparency, and legal compliance throughout the screening process.

Compliance: Understanding Legal Obligations

Step 2: Navigating Legal Requirements

Employers must adhere to federal, state, and local laws governing employee background checks to avoid costly fines and legal repercussions. Key considerations include:

    1. Consent Forms: Ensure compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by obtaining written consent from applicants before conducting background checks.
    2. Adverse Action Process: Follow FCRA guidelines when taking adverse actions based on background check results, providing candidates with pre-adverse and adverse action notices.
    3. Ban-the-Box Laws: Familiarize yourself with ban-the-box regulations, which dictate when background checks can be conducted during the hiring process.
    4. Title VII Compliance: Avoid discriminatory practices by ensuring background screening policies do not disproportionately affect protected groups.

Choosing the Right Employee Background Checks Provider

Step 3: Selecting a Suitable Screening Partner

Every business has unique hiring needs, necessitating the selection of a background check provider that aligns with your requirements like PPS. Consider factors such as:

    1. Compliance Measures: Choose a provider that goes beyond basic FCRA compliance to mitigate risks associated with discrimination and local regulations.
    2. Adverse Action Workflows: Opt for a provider offering integrated adverse action workflows to streamline compliance processes.
    3. Flexible Packages: Select a provider offering customizable screening packages tailored to your industry and position requirements.
    4. Candidate Experience: Prioritize providers offering user-friendly interfaces and transparent processes to enhance the candidate experience.
    5. Integrations: Look for providers that offer seamless integrations with your existing Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to streamline workflows.

Understanding Different Types of Background Checks

Step 4: Exploring Various Screening Options

Familiarize yourself with the different types of background checks available and their respective benefits:

    1. Criminal Record Checks: Assess a candidate’s criminal history to evaluate potential risks to your workforce and business.
    2. Civil Court Checks: Review civil court records to uncover legal issues that may impact an individual’s suitability for certain roles.
    3. Credit Checks: Evaluate a candidate’s financial history, particularly for positions involving financial responsibilities.
    4. Driving Record Checks: Verify a candidate’s driving history for roles that require operating motor vehicles.
    5. Drug Screening: Screen candidates for recent drug use to maintain a safe and productive work environment.
    6. Employment and Education Verification: Confirm the accuracy of a candidate’s employment and educational background to ensure credibility.
    7. Healthcare Sanctions Checks: Verify the standing of healthcare professionals to comply with industry regulations.
    8. International Employee Background Checks: Obtain international records for candidates with prior international experience.

Communicating with Candidates

Step 5: Ensuring Transparency and Compliance

Maintain open communication with candidates throughout the background check process to uphold fairness and compliance:

    1. Candidate Rights: Inform candidates of their rights under the FCRA, including the right to consent to background checks and dispute inaccurate information.
    2. Adverse Action Process: Follow FCRA guidelines when notifying candidates of adverse actions based on background check results, allowing them sufficient time to respond.
    3. Individualized Assessments: Consider individual circumstances when evaluating candidates with criminal records, providing them with an opportunity to provide context.
    4. Additional Considerations: Be mindful of considerations such as remote hiring, background check delivery times, and the risks associated with conducting checks independently.

Building a high-quality team is essential for achieving business objectives and maintaining a positive organizational culture. By implementing effective background check policies, complying with legal requirements, and choosing the right screening partner like PPS, businesses can mitigate risks, ensure compliance, and make informed hiring decisions. However, it’s easy to rely on gut instincts when selecting candidates. Even if a candidate appears perfect on paper, it’s essential to conduct thorough background checks to verify their credentials and ensure a good fit for your organization.

Importance of Employee Background Checks

Hiring the right candidate is a critical component of a company’s success. A bad hire can not only waste valuable time and resources but also negatively impact team morale and productivity. Small businesses, in particular, operate with limited budgets and resources, making it imperative to invest in the right people from the outset.

Benefits of Background Checks

Employers and hiring managers can reap numerous benefits from conducting background checks on job applicants. These include:

    1. Informed Hiring Decisions: Comprehensive background checks provide employers with a full picture of a candidate’s background, enabling them to make informed hiring decisions with confidence.
    2. Risk Reduction: By examining a candidate’s relevant criminal background, employers can identify potential red flags that may pose risks to workplace safety or company reputation.
    3. Verification of Candidate Claims: Background screenings allow employers to verify the accuracy of a candidate’s identity, certifications, education, and work experience.
    4. Mitigation of Legal Risks: Thorough background checks help employers mitigate the risk of negligent hiring claims or lawsuits by demonstrating due diligence in the hiring process.

Types of Employee Background Checks

Employers have access to various types of background checks to suit their specific needs and industry requirements. Some of the most common types include:

    1. Identity Verification: Confirming a candidate’s identity through checks on their name, address, Social Security number (SSN), and other relevant details.
    2. Criminal Background Checks: Examining a candidate’s criminal history at the county, state, and/or federal levels to uncover any past arrests, convictions, or pending charges.
    3. Credit Background Checks: Assessing a candidate’s financial history, particularly for positions involving financial responsibilities, to identify any red flags such as debt issues or poor credit.
    4. Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) Reports: Checking a candidate’s driving history, particularly for roles that require operating company vehicles, to ensure they are safe and responsible drivers.
    5. Professional License & Education Verification: Verifying a candidate’s educational background and professional licenses to ensure they possess the necessary qualifications for the role.
    6. Fingerprint Background Checks: Conducting fingerprint-based checks to verify a candidate’s criminal history and identity, particularly for roles involving security clearances or sensitive information.
    7. E-Verify Background Checks: Using the E-Verify system to confirm a candidate’s eligibility to work in the United States by verifying their Form I-9 information.


Employers must prioritize thorough background checks as part of their hiring process to mitigate risks, ensure compliance, and make informed decisions. By investing in the right people and strategies upfront, businesses can avoid the pitfalls of bad hires and set themselves up for long-term success.