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Background Checks on Current Employees: What You Need to Know

Play by the rules when you do your homework

Posted by Timothy Dimoff on May 16th, 2017

Savvy business owners always run background checks on new employees. However not many run background checks on current or existing employees.

This may be due to fear of losing a good employee, not understanding the need to do it in the first place, costs factors, discrimination fears and more.

 

Conducting Background Checks on Existing Employees?

A truly smart business owner understands that there are valid reasons for conducting background checks on current employees even though a background check was conducted at the time of hiring.

Major changes in an employee’s life, such as a divorce, money problems, substance abuse or a stressful event, could push an employee to commit fraud or other misconduct.

 

When to Conduct a Background Check

As an employer, you should conduct a background check when:

  • You feel that an employee is putting others at risk
  • The employee’s job performance has changed
  • You suspect criminal activity

A background check at this stage could provide insight into what is going on in the employee’s life that could negatively affect your business.

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And, if you have employees who drive as part of their job responsibilities, especially if they drive a company vehicle, recurrent checks may be required by your insurance company.

 

Consent for Ongoing Checks

If you do conduct ongoing background checks on your employees, it is prudent to let them know when you hire them.

Before you hired an employee you asked them to give written consent allowing you to conduct a background check.

You must also obtain consent for current employees.

However, if an employee signed a consent form to allow a background check when you hired them, it may be written in a way that the consent is valid unless it is revoked by the employee.

Check your state laws, as some states do require consent every time you conduct a background check.

 

Be Open About Ongoing Background Checks

If you do conduct ongoing background checks on your employees, it is prudent to let them know when you hire them.

You should have a policy that clearly states how often you will be conducting background checks… every three or five years, or annually.

Include that in the documents they sign and in your employee manual.

 

Don’t Discriminate

Make sure that any time you use an employee’s background information to make an employment decision — regardless of how you got the information — you must comply with federal laws that protect applicants and employees from discrimination.

This includes discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), and age (40 or older).

These laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

 

Using a Third-Party for Background Checks?
Your company should have a clear policy on what types of findings and records will be grounds for termination.
In addition, when you use a company that conducts background checks, you must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), that explains the Federal nondiscrimination rules and the FCRA.

It’s also a good idea to review the laws of your state and municipality regarding background reports or information because some states and municipalities regulate the use of that information for employment purposes.

 

Have a Policy for Termination

Your company should also have a clear policy on what types of findings and records will be grounds for termination.

Always provide the employee with the information before you decide to terminate them and allow them to let you know if they think the information is inaccurate or would like to provide additional facts.

While a current employee’s criminal record will not necessarily be grounds for termination, you will need to decide whether the findings are relevant to your business’s needs and the employee’s ability to do the job.


Timothy Dimoff
Timothy Dimoff

President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues.
He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University.

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