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Can An Employer Require Candidates to Pay for Their Own Background Check?

When budgets get tight, employers often have to do a lot of soul-searching to find out where to best spend their dollars. One of the most expensive aspects of running any business, including ministries, vacation bible schools, and other faith-based organizations, is hiring new people. From generating and placing job openings to gathering applications and conducting interviews, the entire recruitment process is one big money and time suck.

And you haven’t even started paying this person yet. If they’re a volunteer, you’re still not going to pay them, but it will cost you anyway.

Here’s some staggering statistics:

  • says the entire recruiting process can cost a company around $3,500 in turnover costs, both direct and indirect.
  • A Training magazine report from 2007 shows that companies spent an average of $1,200 annually per employee in training costs.
  • says it can take between five and six-and-a-half months for a new hire to reach the break even point.

One option employers consider to trim the fat is requiring applicants to pay for their own background check. Considering that a 2004 study by the Society for Human Resource Management shows that 96 percent of human resources managers say they do some type of background on employees, making background checks a self-pay situation may be a viable solution.

There are some things you need to know, however, before you adopt this practice.

Check your state’s employment laws. Some states, like Kentucky, mandate employers must pay for candidates’ (or current employees’) background checks. If you’re not sure what your state’s laws says, consult with an employment attorney.

Candidates DO NOT like the practice and may not want to work for you. Check any job board forum and you’ll find lots of posts about this topic and lots of opinions about it. Most are not favorable. The prevailing thought is that if you want someone to work for you bad enough, you’ll pay for their on-boarding costs. This is also a huge turn off to anyone seeking a low-paying gig or who may already be struggling financially.

You better follow state and federal compliance laws. Just because you’re asking candidates to pay for their own background check, doesn’t mean you’re given a pass when it comes to following compliance. That means the same standards for taking pre-adverse action and adverse action are required. If you don’t know what those things are, you better consult an employment attorney or human resources professional STAT.

Applicants still need to give written authorization for the background check. This is one of the main components to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and if you fail to take this first step, you may be on the road to facing a class action lawsuit. No matter who is ultimately footing the bill for a background check, permission is required.

Volunteers may be held to separate standards in the laws pertaining to self-pay background checks. Again, consulting with an attorney or human resources professional is a smart move. If you’re cleared to ask volunteers to foot the bill for their own background check (it’s one of the best moves employers can make to keep their budgets in line) Protect My Ministry has created a secure, easy-to-use portal through its Ministry Mobilizer. This all-in-one applicant tracking system allows employers to recruit, train and on-board applicants and volunteers in a money-saving paperless format. The Ministry Mobilizer Volunteer Pay allows your volunteers to pay for their own background checks. The application and payment system is secure, instant and easy to use. Best of all, ittakes the work, time, and payment off of you and your organization.

Here’s some of its industry-leading features:

• Customizable weblink to your personalized online application form

• Email the weblink to your applicants, or post the link on your organization’s website

• Applicants will fill out the application page(s)

• Volunteers authorize their background check via eSignature authorization

• Credit Card Payments are processed instantly through a secure payment gateway to Protect My Ministry

• Instant confirmation and automated payment receipt via email

• Background check requests are automatically ordered

When you’re ready to explore self-pay volunteer background check options, our expert staff is ready to listen. Give us a call today at (800) 319-5581.