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Five Ways to Avoid Problems with Background Checks

Employers often want access to an applicant or employee’s criminal history. However, employers should be careful how they obtain and use criminal background information. Federal and state laws provide guidelines for requesting criminal history information and define when an employer may make an employment decision based on such information, including when information obtained in a criminal background check justifies not hiring an applicant. Five tips to avoid problems that could result from using criminal conduct or criminal history to make employment decisions include: Obtain written authorization and provide written notice before requesting a criminal background check; Evaluate whether the criminal conduct or conviction is related to the applicant or employee’s actual job responsibilities; Do not use or inquire into arrest history or sealed or expunged criminal history information; Other evidence besides arrest history that indicates criminal conduct may be considered; and Provide notice both before and after taking adverse action on the basis of a criminal background check. Consult your state’s laws for further details on using criminal history information in employment decisions.

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