Employee background screening is more common than ever before. As employers, we are also faced with the responsibility to hire without discriminating against individuals who may have a criminal background that would not impede their performance with our organization. So what are the pros and cons of conducting background and reference checks on potential new hires?
Litigation defense – What you don’t know can hurt you. If a potential hire recently harmed a previous employer, the employer’s employees or customers of a previous employer, you want to know this information. Otherwise you could be found liable for negligent hiring practices. In some cases, the government mandates criminal background checks.
Nearly half of 3,100 hiring managers interviewed by Careerbuilder admitted to finding out candidates were dishonest on their resume. Using due diligence in performing background and reference checking can help you determine if you are hiring an honest, productive employee, or a dud.
Timing – If you are looking to fill a position yesterday, the time it takes to conduct an accurate background check may be a big disappointment to you, since it can take up to 3 weeks to confirm.
Difficulty – Many employers these days are hesitant to give out information about previous employees for fear of being sued. To prevent this liability, they give out very little information to potential new employers and only with written permission from the potential new hire.
Discrimination – Any time an employer uses an applicant’s or employee’s background information to make an employment decision, regardless of how they got the information, they must take special care to comply with federal laws that protect applicants and employees from discrimination. More information can be found at the EEOC website – http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/background_checks_employers.cfm
According to the Small Business Administration 30% of applications include incorrect information. Also, “for every dollar invested in personnel screening, the savings ranges from $5-$16 in reduced absenteeism, improved productivity, lower turnover, safer working environments, reduced insurance costs and decreased employer liability.”
As Human Resource Consultants, Alternative HR highly recommends conducting background and reference checks. Employers feel more confident hiring the best person for the job when conducting this due diligence. Yes, employers need to be careful they are not illegally discriminating against anyone and it may take more time to get through the process, but the pros strongly outweigh the cons.