What legal hoops must we jump through if we conduct background checks on applicants?

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in Employment Background Check,Hiring,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Q.  I’ve never required background checks on any job applicants. To get a better understanding of whom we’re hiring, I’ve retained a professional screening company to begin vetting our candidates for things such as criminal convictions. Are there any specific protocols we should be following?

A. Not only are there specific protocols, but there is a specific federal law that regulates how background checks for employment are handled. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires employers to follow certain steps when checking applicants’ or employees’ backgrounds:

1. The employer must first disclose to the employee or applicant that a background check will be done and obtain written consent.

2. The employer must then certify to the consumer reporting agency that it made the disclosure and has obtained written consent.

3. Finally, if you are going to take an adverse action based on information disclosed in the background check (such as not hiring someone), you must first provide the applicant or employee with a copy of the report you received, along with a copy of the person’s rights under the FCRA (available directly from the Federal Trade Commission). An employer must then wait a reasonable period of time (five business days) before taking the adverse action, at which time the applicant or employee must be provided with an adverse action letter under the FCRA.

Missing any one of these steps can cause potential liability issues for an employer.

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