Can You Background Check Current Employees? A Helpful Guide!

Sarah Hope . July 13, 2022

In today’s business climate, maintaining the safety and integrity of the workplace is crucial. This leads many employers to consider whether they can perform background checks on their current employees. This guide dives into the legal and ethical aspects of conducting background checks on existing staff.

Understanding the Legal Landscape

Consent and Notification

  • Obtaining Explicit Consent: The legal foundation of conducting background checks on current employees hinges on obtaining their explicit consent, typically through a written authorization form.
  • Informing Employees: Employees must be informed about the nature and scope of the background check.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Compliance

  • Adhering to FCRA Procedures: When using a third-party agency for background checks, employers must follow FCRA guidelines, including notifying employees and obtaining consent.
  • Handling Adverse Actions: Proper procedures must be followed if any adverse action (such as termination or demotion) is taken based on the background check results.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Guidelines

  • Ensuring Fairness: It’s imperative to conduct background checks consistently and fairly for all employees, regardless of race, nationality, gender, religion, disability, genetic information, or age (40 or older).

Reasons for Conducting Background Checks on Current Employees

Promotions or Changes in Duties

  • When an employee is considered for a promotion or a change in job responsibilities, particularly if the role requires additional trust or security clearance, a background check becomes relevant.

Periodic or Industry-Specific Requirements

  • Some industries, such as national security, finance, or childcare, may necessitate periodic background checks.

Workplace Safety and Liability

  • Regular background checks help maintain safety, especially in sensitive or high-risk areas, and can mitigate the risk of negligent retention lawsuits.

Best Practices in Conducting Background Checks on Current Employees

Develop a Clear Policy

  • Establish a well-defined policy regarding background checks, outlining when they will be conducted, who will be subject to them, and how the information will be used.

Ensure Privacy and Respect

  • Confidentially and respectfully handle the information obtained from background checks.

Provide an Opportunity for Explanation

  • If adverse information is discovered, offer the employee a chance to explain or dispute the findings before making any employment decisions.

Consistency is Key

  • Apply the background check policy uniformly to avoid any form of discrimination or the appearance of targeting specific groups or individuals.

Conclusion

Conducting background checks on current employees is a valuable tool for employers aiming to maintain a safe and compliant workplace. However, navigating this process requires a clear understanding of legal requirements and a commitment to fairness and privacy. By adhering to best practices, employers can effectively utilize background checks as part

of their broader strategy for risk management and maintaining workplace integrity.


Learn How Vertical Identity Can Assist: For guidance and support in conducting background checks on current employees, discover the services offered by Vertical Identity. Visit https://verticalidentity.com/pre-employment-screening/ for more information.

 

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