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Getting More Privacy Pros into HR

Recently in The Globe and Mail’s “Nine to Five” column, an employee working for a U.S.-based public company expressed concerns about having to submit to a mandatory criminal background check. The employee had been at the company for 15 years, and until recently, only new employees would have to consent to a background check. “I do not have a criminal record, but I have serious objections to this,” the employee expressed. “I don’t want this confidential personal information held by a third party, and I find it to be an intrusion on my privacy. Surely there are limits to what an employer can request?” One of the HR experts in the column stated, “While I understand your concern about your information and privacy, these policies are typically initiated for the greater protection of the firm’s integrity, not to make you feel uncomfortable.” Wouldn’t having a privacy department or the presence of a privacy professional help in communicating out such a drastic policy change to employees in a way that doesn’t alienate them? If so, perhaps there wouldn’t be as many employees steeped with a sense of discomfort (assuming this person isn’t the only one). But clearly, the damage, in this case, has been done. Alienated employees can damage a company’s integrity as much as anything else.

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