How to Conduct Thorough Employee Background Checks Without Violating Privacy Laws

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Many firms use background checks to confirm that a job applicant’s resume and credentials are accurate. This screening includes contacting the candidate’s previous supervisors, mentors, and references. However, companies must be careful not to discriminate based on race, religion, sex, age, or disability. Other background-check options are polygraph tests and drug testing.

Background Checks

As more and more employees work from home or on the road, verifying a job candidate’s background becomes increasingly essential. More commonly known as pre-employment screening, employment background checking verifies details such as education history, employment records, civil offenses, criminal records, and address history. Most employers will run a background check before making a formal job offer. A thorough examination may take some time, and depending on the required statements, it can be costly. Typically, a company will start by running county criminal background searches. Many will expand the search to include state and federal databases if necessary. A thorough criminal background check contains arrests, convictions, and pending cases. The severity of the offense, how long ago the conviction occurred, and how it relates to the role are factors in an employer’s decision-making process.

While some companies outsource background checks, businesses can do their checks online. However, there are several privacy issues that firms must consider.

Social Media Profiles

In a world of digital transparency, a candidate’s social media profiles can provide a fuller picture of their character. They can reveal inconsistent gaps in employment history that could signal poor time management or show up due to a job-related problem like drug abuse or an addiction to gambling or online gaming. They may also turn up evidence of a criminal past or reveal that they don’t have the qualifications your company requires for the role you are hiring for. Conducting a social media background check with professional services reduces your brand, reputation, and data security risks. A reputable firm will use smart-search techniques and behavior analysis tools to deliver an objective, regulation-compliant and rounded evaluation of your potential hires. For example, a social media profile scan could uncover evidence of hateful or discriminatory comments that would be hard to catch on a resume or in an interview. It can also find discrepancies between what a candidate has said in their social media posts and the facts presented on their resume or application. This information could strongly indicate their fit for your company’s culture, especially in fitness, skincare, and life coaching sectors, where values such as empathy and the beauty of being human are crucial. An adverse media check can also help confirm the accuracy of a candidate’s credit history, which is essential for roles that involve money handling.

Criminal Record Checks

Employers may conduct criminal background checks to verify an applicant’s past, but these checks must be completed within a legal framework. Personal, romantic relationships, religious beliefs, and family matters are private details that do not pertain to work. As such, they are not the business of an employer or hiring manager. However, some criminal history records may reveal important information for an employer’s decision-making process. For example, a description that an applicant has a previous conviction for a sexual offense may make them unsuitable for specific jobs or industries. These checks are critical to ensuring employee safety and protecting customers, clients, and colleagues. Most court records are public, but the method of how they’re stored and the laws governing their use can vary by state or even by city. Using an experienced consumer reporting agency (CRA) can help you ensure compliance with your local, state, and federal background-checking regulations. CRAs also have professional relationships with courts that allow them to obtain criminal record reports more quickly, especially for jobs in cities where records aren’t digitized. These efficiencies can save you time and money while allowing you to comply with your employer-specific or industry-wide privacy standards.

Drug Testing

Besides criminal record checks, many employers conduct drug tests as a part of the hiring process. This helps the company maintain a safe workplace and avoid liability if an employee performs poorly due to drug abuse. Drug testing can include urine, saliva, hair, blood, and sweat samples. A urine drug test is the most popular test in the United States. It checks for the presence of certain drugs and alcohol, including marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, PCP, methadone, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and tricyclic antidepressants. Some government jobs, such as law enforcement and security, require pre-employment drug screening. These checks help ensure that a candidate is not using illegal drugs and hasn’t been arrested for possessing hard narcotics such as heroin or cocaine. Federal agencies must also conduct background checks and a suitability review before granting employees access to classified information or sensitive facilities. Other companies may conduct random drug testing or use reasonable suspicion to determine if an employee uses drugs. These tests can also assess treatment adherence and monitor abstinence following treatment or check for relapsed drug abusers. In addition, college and professional sports teams often require regular drug tests of their athletes. This prevents the use of performance-enhancing drugs, such as anabolic steroids.




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