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How to navigate the complex world of background checks

Not all organizations, whether at home or abroad, understand the intricacies of background screening or even the need for it on occasion. In the US, verifying education and employment is generally a typical process, but HR departments in other countries can perceive it as needless or invasive. Even in the US, it can be difficult to manage the legislative complexities of background checks.

Screenings typically reveal a lot of information. You might be surprised if you ran a background check on a friend or relative, which you can do using Check People or another screening service. Despite the complexity, these procedures are more necessary than ever. In some parts of the world, up to 90 percent of job seekers misrepresent job application data. Considering that 17.4 percent of US companies employ foreigners, reliable global checks are in order.

Ban the Box, Pay Equity, and Other Complexities

US regulations are no less complicated than global ones. Civil rights advocates and groups ran a campaign called “Ban the Box” to eliminate the checkbox on employment applications inquiring whether the candidate has a criminal history. In some states, employers are obligated to give all applicants consideration. On the other hand, you aren’t allowed to hire people who have committed specific crimes for positions that involve contact with vulnerable groups.

A study by The Brookings Institution concluded that the civil rights initiative ultimately caused more discrimination against minority groups rather than less. Latino and African American job seekers were far less likely to get hired after these laws took effect. Before ban the box, white applicants were just a little bit more likely to get a call back than African American ones. After it, employers called white applicants back four times more often.

Another trend that’s gathering speed in the space of background checks involves what is known as pay equity laws. This law is aimed at eliminating gender-based salary gaps by prohibiting employers from asking how much an applicant made at their previous position. While its goal is noble without a doubt, it’s become a “patchwork” law, the enforcement of which varies depending on the city or state.

The Risks

A lot of companies use background check services and assume these services will take care of everything. It’s important to read your agreement with this provider carefully because it will detail the scope of their services, including waivers to staff and required notices. In the past, background screeners dealt with most of the disclosures and notices. As the rules get more complex, some providers have started leaving these steps out of agreements. There were more than 5,000 FCRA lawsuits in 2019, up from fewer than 500 in 2001. There’s quite a price to pay – for example, $1,000 per waiver of disclosure for a technical violation.

Complexity Generates Innovation

As always, complexity generates innovation. Many of the developments in the realm of background checks are designed to ensure employer protection and improve the applicant experience at the same time. For example, the rise of the gig economy is bringing companies to adopt simplified log-in features, biometric screening tools, and identity authentication to augment the process and ensure candidates’ identities are verified.

The gig economy has also brought major back-end technology innovations. Background check services now integrate with more talent pools and hiring platforms. Companies still need to adhere to policy although most gig workers are typically hired remotely.

It’s particularly important to vet food delivery people, ride-share drivers, and other customer-facing gig workers. Customers may be certain these people have been screened, but that’s not always the case.

Stay Safe

Consumer safety will drive gig worker platforms to make large-scale investments in background screening. We’re on the way to witnessing a major market shift. Experts advise companies’ processes be intuitive, compliant, and thorough regardless of whether they are hiring contract workers or full-time staff. We would advise companies to create a formal procedure for screening all new employees with feedback from talent management, vendor management, legal and HR departments to determine what is acceptable. Moreover, steps need to be taken to speed procedures up without the risk of regulatory slip-ups. It’s always a good idea to have contracts reviewed by legal counsel because the hiring process can go wrong very easily.

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