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When is the right time to do background checks?

Every organization is different and has different needs. It may be that your organization does not currently need to do a background investigation for a new hire, but has numerous volunteers lined up. There are many junctures in the hiring of new staff and evaluation process for volunteers at which the background checks can be done. However, there are certain actions that can aid your organization in reducing liability. You can find this briefly explained in the article by the Editors at Business Management Daily, provided below. Even if your organization deals primarily with volunteers, it is just as important to have an action plan and policy in place that is consistent.

Q. When should we be doing our background checks: Before an offer is made? After the offer is made and before employment? Or after employment has begun? We generally do the check after we make an offer and before employment starts. — Elizabeth, Illinois

A. Your organization is correct to time background checks on new hires after an offer of employment is made.

There are a lot of good reasons for this, but a big reason is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which requires you to notify an applicant of the reason you are withdrawing a job offer if you have used a vendor “credit reporting agency” to conduct the background check. (Some states have similar laws.) If you conducted a background check before extending an offer of hire, the process would be more expensive, and applicants not hired because they performed poorly in an interview might believe that something on their background check in fact motivated the decision, and that you were not being forthright in so stating.

In addition, states with drug testing laws typically require pre-hire drug tests to occur post-offer, and the ADA says that pre-hire medical examinations can take place only post-offer, after all other prerequisites to hire have been satisfied.

Many employers also obtain authorizations from new hires that will permit them to conduct background checks of current employees, if you anticipate you may need to update a background check (perhaps to comply with customer requirements, for example). The FCRA does permit employers to conduct background checks on current employees who are actively under investigation for suspected wrongdoing.

Source: BusinessManagement Daily