Background Checks for Employees - Is There Value In It?

Is there value in running any type of background checks for employees?

I suppose a lot will depend on what type of business you are in, but let’s examine the types of information that may be discovered through a simple background check!

Let’s start with discovering whether the applicant is being truthful on their application.

As an example if you have a question on your employment application, “Have you been arrested or convicted of a crime in the last ten years?” and the employee checks “No” but you find out that they have it will tell you volumes about them. Most importantly, that they will lie in order to get what they want. In most cases the offense might be something as simple as a driving infraction but they are afraid it will keep them from getting the job so they lie. What will they lie about later? Don’t hire them!

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Other reason to run background checks for employees is to find out if they have a legitimate educational degree if that is a requirement of the job! Unfortunately in today’s world it is easy to create a document that seems real. As a simple example illegal aliens can buy a fake drivers license and social security card for practically nothing. Computers can create documents that appear to be the real thing with hardly any effort at all. Why not go to the extra effort to make sure they are who they say they are?

Piggybacking off the above reasons you may want to also make sure that if you have a requirement for the employee to be licensed (CPA, Attorney, Electrician, Plumber) it is also wise to insure that the license they hold is real. You do not want to find out that it isn’t when a client files a law suit against you for fraud. Maybe you believe your defense that you had no idea will work but trust me you have an obligation as a professional to verify the legitimacy of your staff.

So let’s return to whether an applicant has a criminal background. Of course this is a good reason to run background checks for employees, but what if they are honest and put down that they have been arrested. I have seen this several times and in most the person has been honest about what they listed, especially if they are on parole. However, I have also seen them put down misdemeanors and left off the felonies! Again, we fall back to the simple fact that they will lie to get what they want!

Sometimes your business may be concerned about their ability to manage money; therefore, you may want to explore whether they have good credit. I will warn you though in these times there are situations where people have fallen upon bad luck. Be fair and consistent when you make decisions relating to their credibility.

Let’s examine one more reason to run background checks on employees and that is if they claim to be a military veteran. Applicants that lie without any remorse will use whatever they feel it takes to secure a position, even if they claim to have served in the military honorably! A quick background check will verify whether they have or have not and whether it was under honorable conditions.

As a business owner your reputation is at stake every single day you have your doors open for business. Why not take the extra effort to make sure you staff are who they say they are?

Thank you and May GOD Bless You!

Background Checks For Employee – Are They Worth It?

If you are considering conducting formal background checks for employees I would not recommend it! My main reason is there is too much that can go wrong and I am all about evaluating the risk versus the benefit of something. Please don’t confuse this with not doing reference checks!

The first hurdle is that you must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). For those companies that choose to run background checks for employees there are a myriad of confusing details contained within the FCRA that can have severe consequences if not followed correctly.

Of course the FCRA’s principal purpose is to protect the consumer and not the company trying to find out if a potential employee is a high risk or not. I understand that protecting the employee is paramount but what about the company’s right to maintain a proficient and productive workforce.

Let’s first consider the increased risk of being accused of Identity Theft. Identity Theft is a huge deal in today’s society and any time a disgruntled employee can find a reason to create a law suit they certainly will. Doesn’t have to be true or make sense either!

The other side of this same coin is the fact that every employee background check will give different information. Keeping that in mind you decide to make the decision to hire one person with negative information but don’t hire another person. Seems harmless until you find out that the one person you hired was not in a protected class and the other was. I can hear you saying that no one will ever know; however, you are forgetting that if the person files a law suit or an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Claim you will be subject to fully disclose your data that helped you make the decision. You could be facing a discrimination law suit next! Ouch!

This is just one of the problems I have with conducting background checks for employees.

Don’t forget also that in accordance with the FCRA you must obtain consent from any person you are going to conduct a background check on. This means that you must insure that you comply one hundred percent with all the rules and guidelines in relationship to the FCRA. Forms and more forms. If you have a company conducting them you are still responsible for their actions. Ignorance is no excuse!

At the end of the day what have you learned that will be different than what your normal process for evaluating potential new employees would have given you.

Everyone leaves a trail behind them. That trail is either a good one or bad one.

I find it much more valuable to conduct a normal reference check and look at their job history rather than their financial history. How long do they stay at one employer? What are they giving as a reason for leaving? Each time that they have moved to a new job has their rate of pay gone up or down? Are the responsibilities of their new jobs the same or completely different? Do they move from town to town or have they lived in the same areas most of their life? Are there gaps in employment?

Getting the answer to the above questions is much more valuable than finding out if someone has declared bankruptcy or not. I can find out if someone has been arrested by getting the answers to the above questions.

If you are telling me that it is too hard to get this information then my question to you is how much is your business worth. If you run into a problem with the information that the potential employee has provided then ask them to provide more or stop considering them for employment.

Sometimes the old way is the best way. I don’t believe background checks for employees is a good way to weed out poor candidates. In addition, it gets expensive!

Thank you and may God bless you!

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