Since 9/11 the number of background checks performed on job applicants and employees has ballooned, for reasons ranging from heightened security concerns to legal mandates to conduct background checks. Coinciding with this, the amount of digital information available about individuals has increased many times over, and the Internet has given us easier access to it.
In these circumstances it is easy to understand why employers might want to try tapping into that big pool of online information themselves, or through “instant” background checks. However, there are some very compelling reasons why quality background checks performed by a professional background screening company can offer you a better value and greater protection for your time and money.
1. Help employers find “good hires” who will improve the organization
A properly conducted background screen will find the relevant information about the correct person. It will provide evidence about the person’s qualifications and aptitude for the job at hand. The aim is not just to find a qualified person, it is to find the best qualified person.
2. Mitigate the risks of a “bad hire”
The corollary to point one is to identify and exclude the potential hires that pose significant risks in the specific role. The background information you rely on should reveal whether an individual has a job-related criminal history that might bring unacceptable risk into your workplace. Some of the risks that can be mitigated include:
- Lawsuits for negligent hiring or retention
- Occupational fraud
- Workplace violence between employees
- Assaults on the vulnerable or indigent
3. Ensure compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The FCRA requires certain procedures to protect the rights of individuals who are screened. A professional screening provider will know and implement compliant practices, protecting both the employer and the screened individual.
4. Provide an affirmative legal defense against claims of negligence
In part, a legal defense against claims of liability involves showing that you exercised due diligence in researching for facts you should have known as a reasonable person. Being able to demonstrate this effort appropriately can help to reduce your exposure to damages.
5. Avoid discriminatory practices
The EEOC has issued guidance that requires employers to take specific steps to avoid disparate impact discrimination against protected classes. Ban the Box statutes in many state and local jurisdictions add to this anti-discrimination emphasis complicating the regulatory landscape. It can be difficult to negotiate the trade-offs these laws impose, and to know when you can exclude an applicant without triggering a discrimination charge. Professional screening agencies understand these issues.
6. Improve compliance with federal, state, and local mandates
More and more federal, state, and local statutes require background checks for specific types of occupations. Professional background screening providers monitor legislation and are a knowledgeable resource to help you maintain compliance.
7. Avoid the perils of do-it-yourself online background checks
By definition, a professional screening company would make your informal online background checks unnecessary. More importantly, using a professional provider will help you avoid the mounting legal risks associated with using information you find online—even if you are scrupulous about not using it in reality. Once you have seen it, you are responsible for it. Case in point: the Virginia Sheriff who was successfully sued because he fired a deputy who had “liked” his opponent on Facebook? The Sheriff never actually saw the Facebook page; he only heard about it.
Professional background check companies have developed supply networks, data sources, compliance policies, and reporting practices that are accurate and effective. To help you select the right provider, download our quick guide to evaluating and selecting a background screening company.