Pre-Employment Background Check Laws

When a small business employer is considering a candidate for an available job position, a variety of things are to be considered including the candidates work experience, skill set, educational background, and fit. After the initial interview, many recruiters and employers choose to run a background check on job candidates before offering employment, This pre-employment background check may include an examination of a candidate’s criminal history, driving record, professional licenses, references, credit history, education, and work history.

Why Employers Run Background Checks

The main purpose of a background check is the verify the information claimed by the employee, and to be sure that they have the proper work experience, qualifications, educational background in order to do the job successfully. A criminal history check is needed for some types of jobs, like a day care center employee, for example. Some types of background checks are only done for specific job descriptions, such as an applicant for a food delivery driver receiving a driving record check.

Types of Background Checks

There are a number of types of background checks that verify a host of records of any individual. The type of job the applicant is applying for typically depicts what type of background check the employer will run. Some of these background checks require the individual’s consent prior to running the check, while others have specific laws regarding when it is appropriate to run the background check.

The most common types of background checks include their criminal record, work experience, credit history and driving record. Additional types of background checks include:

  • Court records
  • Professional and personal references
  • Licensing Records
  • Education credentials
  • Drug Testing

Laws and Restrictions Regarding Background Checks

Employers do not have the freedom to run any type of background check they want without prior consent. Each state has individual rules regarding the types of background checks they may run. For instance, the Fair Credit Reporting Act has a set of restrictions for when and how an employer can check an individual’s credit history and use it for hiring decisions. Some background checks are public record, such as a driving history or court records, while others require the candidate’s consent, such as a drug test.

Some background check information is restricted by employers except under special circumstances. The following is a list of the current restrictions some states employ in regard to background checks:

  • Military records are restricted and protected under the Federal Privacy Act, and therefore prohibited from employers.
  • Bankruptcy records are public record and will be known during a credit history check, but an employer may not discriminate a candidate based on this information.
  • Criminal records are considered to be public records, but some states require an individual’s signed consent prior to running this check.
  • Educational records of a job candidate will require a candidate’s prior consent as they determine an individual’s knowledge of the position they are applying for.
  • Medical records are prohibited to employers except for job positions requiring a physical examination.
  • Worker’s compensation information is also public record, but is restricted to being relevant to the job description.

Background checks allow employers to check the validity of a job candidate in order to make their final hiring decision. However laws are in place to protect an individual’s privacy and avoid discrimination. Understanding the laws will help to make the hiring process run more smoothly and without legal ramifications.