Background checks for smallbizYou’ve waved goodbye to the candidate you just spent an hour of your time getting to know. You feel really good about the interview and think this person would be a good fit for your small business staff. But you’re still new to the hiring process so you want to be absolutely certain you’re making a smart decision.

Conducting a background check on your potential employee can help give you that confidence in your hiring choice.  However, before you decide to implement this type of screening, you should absolutely ensure that you’re doing it right.

A best practice for issuing a background check is to do so post job offer. After you have sent the offer letter to your candidate is the most appropriate time so that you avoid any sort of discrimination issues.

Many states have laws limiting an employer’s use of credit reports and criminal records. Read up on the “ban the box” campaign and familiarize yourself with your particular state’s laws before going any further. [See our disclaimer below]

Here’s an idea of some of the things you can expect to learn from conducting background check:

  • Driving records
  • Credit reports
  • Criminal records
  • Employment verification
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Educational records
  • Drug test records

Compliance with background checks falls under the Fair Credit Reporting Act umbrella. Here’s a quick checklist of things you should do to ensure compliance.

  • Inform the applicant that you might use information in the background check for decisions related to their employment. The notification must be in a standalone format, not in the employment application.
  • Obtain written permission from the applicant. This could be a signature from the aforementioned document.
  • If you’re using a professional agency to conduct the check, certify compliance with that company. Certify that you notified the applicant and got their permission, complied with FCRA standards and that you will not discriminate against the applicant or otherwise misuse the information.

If the returned results of the background check influence your decision-making on the particular candidate, here is a quick checklist of the proper way to let them know:

  • Notify the applicant.
  • Provide them with a copy of the report.
  • Give them reasonable time to review it and explain any negative information.
  • Provide the candidate with a copy of their rights under the FCRA

Background screening can prove to be a viable option when determining the validity of your potential new hire. But as with all human resources functions, it must be done with federal and state regulations top of mind.

This article was originally posted here.

Disclaimer: Please note that this is not all inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues actually covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may be applicable to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion. Consult your own legal advisor regarding specific application of the information to your own plan.