Your company knows it’s a good practice to conduct pre-employment screenings as part of your hiring process. However, should a poor decision someone made years ago hurt their chances of landing a job? Or is there a limit on how far back background checks go?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t straightforward. Usually, background checks go back 7 to 10 years. Yet, there are multiple factors influencing lookback times.
How Far Back Background Checks Go Depends On…
The Type of Screening
Although the phrase “background check” is used broadly, pre-employment screening may include a variety of different checks. For example, one company may require a criminal record search while another requires a criminal record search, a credit report and academic verification. In many cases, criminal, motor vehicle and civil record searches don’t go back more than 7 to 10 years. On the other hand, verification screenings, including employment and academic history, can extend back through an individual’s lifetime. In other words, you could check on a candidate’s college degree even if they graduated 20 years ago.
Federal, State and Local Laws
At the federal level, the Fair Credit Reporting Act places time limits on some types of screening. For instance, bankruptcies cannot be listed if they are over 10 years old. Additionally, states and cities have a patchwork of laws reducing screening lookbacks to anywhere between 3 to 10 years. These may apply to criminal records, motor vehicle records, credit reports and more. To find out what’s allowed in your area, consult with your legal team or a PBSA accredited screening provider.
The Salary Level of the Employee
An employee’s earning potential also can impact a background check timeframe. If a position pays over a designated amount, the screening may be more far-reaching and thorough. Again, these rules vary by state and region, so you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the regulations in your area.
The Severity of the Crime
States, such as California, prohibit listing arrests that did not lead to convictions. This holds true regardless of how much time has passed. Other states restrict reporting on misdemeanors to a shorter period than felonies. In other situations, certain crimes may show up on someone’s record indefinitely.
The Age of the Individual
The juvenile court system seeks to protect young people from being labeled as a life-long criminals. Therefore, background checks usually don’t show any records from before the age of 18. So, if you’re hiring a 22-year-old, their background check will only go back 4 years. There are, nevertheless, exceptions to the confidentiality of juvenile criminal records.
Is Your Company Looking to Run Background Checks in WNY?
Balancing a thorough background check with federal, state and local laws is a challenge. Fortunately, Metrodata Services is here to help. As a PBSA accredited screening service, we’ll get the information you need to make informed hiring decisions. Plus, our expert staff with deal with all the compliance issues. Background check smarter. Give Metrodata Services a call today!