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Employers: How to Re-invent Your Background Screening Policy

June 5, 2012

This past April, the EEOC handed down new guidance on the use of criminal records checks in the pre-employment screening process. This guidance has created concern for employers who utilize criminal records searches as part of their hiring process.

As an employer, it is important not to chuck the criminal records searches altogether.  Abandoning a screening policy can have a very negative impact on the safety of the workplace and the quality of the employees.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

We have outlined a few actions to take to re-establish a compliant background screening policy that will still guard against bad hires.

1: Get rid of any “we don’t hire anyone with a criminal record” policies. These blanket policies no longer fit into a compliant background screening process.

2:  Make certain all the people involved in the hiring process are well-versed on the EEOC guidance, and that they are trained and prepared to implement all relevant policies and procedures.

3:  Edit the current screening policy so that it is more narrowly tailored and clearly explains how criminal records are used during the hiring process.

4: Identify the specific job requirements of each position, and determine the specific offenses that would prove to make that job a bad fit for an applicant.

5:  Limit questions about criminal records to only those offenses that relate to the specific position in question.

6: Examine all the evidence and determine the duration for exclusions of criminal conduct, and record this justification.

7:  Keep a record of all consultations and research that went into crafting the specific policy and procedures.

In addition, give thoughtful consideration to the factors below during the hiring process before you decide not to hire a person based on whole or in part on the background check:

–  the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense

– the number of offenses

–  age at the time of conviction

– any evidence the individual performed the same type of work after the conviction, without any known  incidents of criminal conduct

–  length and consistency of employment, before and after the offense

–  whether or not the individual is bonded or bondable

By taking a small amount of time to look at your company’s current employment screening policy and to implement these changes, you will accomplish 2 goals: maintaining total compliance with the EEOC guidance AND protecting the safety and the integrity of your workplace.

~~Susan McCullah is the Product Development Director for Data Facts, a 23 year old Memphis-based company that provides employment screening solutions to companies nationwide. Check our our website for a complete explanation of our services.

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