Understanding Pre-Employment Background Checks

When it comes to finding out more about the people you want to hire, background checks are one of the most important methods of doing so. However, it is important that you understand what options are available, and why they are important for your business.

Criminal Records

Criminal records are one of the most popular background checks used for screening new employees. In Florida, the laws are such that a potential new hire can only be barred from a position if they have a first degree misdemeanor or felony directly related to the position (unless the applicant is applying to law enforcement, corrections and firefighting). Further, the EEOC recommends that the following should be taken into consideration when determining whether a potential hire should be disqualified:

  • The gravity and nature of the offense
  • The length of time that has passed since the crime occurred
  • What the position requires, including interaction with others and supervision levels

Florida laws also provide that employers have some form of protection if they perform criminal background checks – if an employee injures another person, the employer cannot be considered negligent if a check was performed.

Credit Reports

Credit reports are often included as part of pre-employment background checks as well. This information is used to determine whether an employee is fiscally responsible. When including a credit check as part of your background check, you must receive consent from the potential new hire, and provide the agency a copy of the report if you choose not to hire based on the information included in it. The potential hire must also be informed of his or her right to challenge any information provided in the report in order to be in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Worker’s Compensation

As worker’s compensation is a matter of public record, employers can use this information in their hiring decisions. However, it can only be used if the employer can prove that the injury listed on the claim could interfere with the applicant’s ability to do the job required by the position.

Being aware of how pre-employment background checks can be used protects you as an employer, and ensures you remain in compliance with the applicable laws in your state. Failing to follow these requirements can lead to legal action in some cases.

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