Are criminal background checks worth the effort given the new EEOC Guidelines on doing criminal background checks?
Ever since the EEOC released the new guidance earlier this year, it's no secret that employers are asking themselves: is conducting a background check more trouble than it's worth? If you've asked yourself this same question, you're not alone. In the face of ever-growing state laws, increasing federal legislation and the EEOC's discrimination lawsuits, it's no wonder employers are questioning the value of background checks. In this year alone, we have seen an unprecedented number of EEOC lawsuits, ban the box legislation, and - not to mention - the evolving controversy surrounding the use of social media. However, we cannot ignore the unparalleled, demonstrated benefits a comprehensive background check can have in the workplace.
In light of the new guidance, employers are encouraged to use this time to evaluate their current screening process and compliance programs. The guidance provides detailed recommendations on best practices that can be used to enhance your current hiring process. For instance, when evaluating an applicant with a criminal history, use individualized assessment by considering job relatedness and business necessity rather than operating under blanket policies. Consider such things as how much time has passed since the conviction, the facts surrounding the offense, age at the time of the conviction, number of convictions and whether they are bonded or can provide credible references. In other words, give the applicant a chance to discuss their situation rather than dismissing them too early in the process. While most employers already have some form of evaluation and assessment as part of their current process, it is only efficient if you are actively monitoring the process for compliance in accordance with on-going legislation and the new guidance. Although initially, this may require more work from employers, a thorough review will ensure a more compliant and efficient process, thus helping companies to reach their end goal: hire the best person for the job while minimizing risk.
Speaking of minimizing risk, consider this: criminal background checks are proven to help employers reduce turnover, prevent theft and fraud, reduce instances of workplace violence, and avoid negligent hiring. Take a look at some of the facts:
It's pretty obvious: the cost to conduct a pre-employment screen on a potential candidate, matched with time spent by human resources, etc., is minimal when compared to lost productivity, potential lawsuits and the threat of workplace violence. Today, more than ever, criminal background checks are an essential component of a successful business. So, it looks like the short answer to the question is yes, they are worth the effort.
Getting started and resources
The use of criminal background checks by employers should be conducted with the EEOC's concern of disparate impact discrimination in mind. To begin, document your background screening policies and procedures using the guidance's best practices. For resources, industry associations offer sample policies, however, be sure to have your legal counsel review before you put any procedures or policies in place. Documentation of your policies, procedures and applicant evaluations will assist in reducing the possibility of a negligent or discrimination claim.
Choosing the right background screening partner is an important component of your hiring process. Be sure to ask questions:
Most importantly, look for a company accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).