The Ins and Outs of Criminal Background Checks

Criminal background checks are a common practice in hiring and can provide valuable information to employers about potential employees. Employers conduct criminal background checks for a variety of reasons, including to verify an applicant’s identity, to assess an applicant’s fitness for the job, or to comply with laws and regulations.

How It’s Done. What’s Included.

When conducting a criminal background check, employers generally use commercial background check services or obtain criminal records directly from government agencies. The information included in a criminal background check can vary depending on the type of criminal record being searched, but can include things like arrest records, convictions, and charges.

Guidelines for Doing Background Checks

Employers cannot conduct criminal background checks without good reason. There are federal and state laws that regulate the use of criminal records in employment decisions. These laws limit the type of criminal history that employers can consider and impose restrictions on when and how employers can use criminal history information in the hiring process.

For example, employers must obtain the applicant’s written consent before conducting a background check and must provide the applicant with a copy of any background check report that is used in the hiring process. In addition, employers must comply with laws that prohibit them from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until later in the hiring process.

Avoiding Discrimination

Employers must also be careful to avoid discriminating against applicants based on their criminal history. This means that employers must consider the nature and severity of the crime, the time that has passed since the crime was committed, and the relevance of the crime to the job in question when making hiring decisions.

Employers should not automatically exclude applicants with a criminal history because this can result in discrimination against certain groups.

Criminal background checks can provide valuable information to employers in the hiring process, but must be conducted in compliance with federal and state laws and in a way that does not discriminate against applicants based on their criminal history.

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