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Criminal Background Checks

by: Steve Valentino
As an employer, it is understandable that you want to know as much as possible about a prospective employee. A combination of employment application, personal references and background investigations can give you a sense of peace when entrusting an individual with responsibilities within your company. It is also important that employers not rely solely upon the employment application alone. It is estimated that up to 30% of all applications contain some type of falsifications or fabrications. Many methods exist to inquire about the background of a candidate.

One of the most utilized types of background checks is the criminal background investigation. All businesses handle some type of sensitive information of some degree. Retail businesses want to be sure prospective employees are clean from theft charges to reduce the instance of employee theft. Businesses or non-profits dealing with children and/or seniors are legally obligated to know the backgrounds of their employees. We have all heard the horror stories of an abusive childcare worker with a criminal background in which the employer was unaware. It is vital for the safety and security of both the business and those served that employers perform a thorough investigation of each employee.

Employers should be careful to limit the information that they need based on the responsibilities of the specific job function. For example, when hiring an employee that will handle cash transactions, employers will need to know if the candidate has had any prior convictions regarding theft. It is also mandatory that the types of background investigations to be performed are clearly outlined in any pre-employment literature. With the increasing concern about privacy, it is in the employer’s best interest to be upfront and honest about any inquiry of this nature.

The implementation of criminal background checks can greatly reduce the financial loss of a company by weeding out those who have criminal convictions. Another instance where criminal background checks can be useful is when an employee will be dealing with the public sector. In order to limit the likelihood of negligence lawsuits, employers should consider criminal background checks as a standard pre-employment screening tool.

When calling upon a private investigation firm, an employer might not be sure of what information they really need. However, some of the most common concerns are about criminal conviction. In regards to criminal background checks, the Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits employers from rejecting employment to those who have been charged but not convicted of a crime. When interviewing a private investigation firm, it is important to find out what information they gather and from what sources. Employers can be held liable of violating Federal law if they reject employment based on this type of information.




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