Q. Our company would like to review applicants’ credit information when we make hiring decisions. Can we do this?
A. Maybe, depending on the duties of the position. This summer, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law the Employee Credit Privacy Act (H.B. 4658). This new law prohibits employers from using personal credit histories to make employment decisions affecting hiring, termination, compensation or other terms of employment.
Specifically, employers can’t inquire about an applicant’s or employee’s credit history or obtain a copy of his or her credit report.
However, there are several exceptions that allow employers to use credit information in some cases.
For example, employers may consider credit information where a satisfactory credit history is related to a “bona fide occupational requirement” for a particular position or for a particular group of employees. Usually this means for jobs involving the handling of money.
The Employee Credit Privacy Act becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2011.