“Ban the box” is gaining ground as a movement to remove the checkbox on employee applications asking about criminal history in order to give applicants with a criminal history past a fair chance. That is great! I believe in second chances and that people who have made mistakes in the past can change but that does not mean that we as employers can just ignore that past or just hope that someone has changed. We are betting our business on that “hope” as internal theft or mistreatment of our customers can kill our business. The prospective employee has an advocate for a “fair chance.” What about the employer? Employee background checks are an employer’s “fair chance.”
It makes sense that we should have an opportunity to get to know the whole person when they apply for one our positions and not just eliminate them because they checked a box. I have no difficulty with that and the intent of “ban the box.” Getting to know the whole person, however, must include pre-employment screening by a reputable background check company. It is then that we get the picture of the whole person and are able to use the information gained along with our interview and other screening tools to determine what level of risk we are willing to assume. We know there is risk with every hire but we also know that past performance is the best indicator of future success and that, for some positions, we cannot afford to assume the risk of having a convicted felon in that position. Employee background checks give us the opportunity to at least get the information so we can make that intelligent decision.
Because companies do not have access directly to police records through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) we have to rely on a background check company to access the information for us through databases and visits to court offices to view original records. It is important that we have the right partner in conducting the pre-employment screening so that all the requirements of state and federal law are met and the information that is obtained is accurate.
I have worked with a variety of background check companies in my career and believe you have to do some pre-screening yourself before taking on that partner. You should what you want in that background check company. Many offer these services and you need to know which ones you want:
• Misdemeanor and felony criminal records for county, state and national jurisdictions
• Sex offender status
• Social Security number trace and validation
• Employment verification
• Reference checks
• Credit checks
• Civil record checks
• Motor vehicle records checks
• Military records verification
• Worker’s compensation history
• Address history.
Once you determine what services you are interested in pursuing you can look at the background check company and ask some important questions:
• Can the company provide the services you are looking for?
• Does the company provide proof that there is Fair Credit Report Act compliance?
• Are the costs reasonable for what you want?
• Does the company provide forms either in paper format or on-line for the applicant to complete?
• How long is it going to take to get the results? There should be a window here varying from a “clean” check to one where they have to do manual records and you should have them provide those extremes as well as the average time.
• Are the results easy to read or do you need to have a lawyer review them to understand them – which you don’t want?
• Does the firm have accreditation through the National Association of Professional Background Screeners?
• Does the company provide you a web portal or link to your on-line application process or is it all done by paper and fax, email or regular mail?
Once you have done your due diligence and have engaged a background check company as a partner you can begin your pre-employment screening process with confidence. You then have your “fair chance” to make intelligent decision to protect your business and your customers. The “ban the box” movement is not the enemy. They just make it more important that we meet the applicant’s fair chance with a fair chance of our own!
For more information about employee background checks contact us or call 1-770-426-0547.