A question many employers have is whether they need to receive an employee’s consent before running a background check. And if so, what does this consent need to look like? Let’s take a closer look at the rules and regulations regarding consent for a background check.
Do I Need Consent?
While the ethics and legalities regarding background checks aren’t always cut and dry, the short answer is this: Yes, you should always get an employee’s consent before running a background check on them. Running a background check without an employee’s express permission means you’re at risk of running afoul of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which protects applicant rights throughout the hiring process. In most states, you’ll need to have the employee sign an authorization form to make it official. Do your research to learn about the particular regulations and requirements in your state.
If you were to disregard the FCRA and run the background check without permission, you could face a class-action lawsuit. And while some states technically don’t require employers to get permission from the applicant, it’s best to play it safe and avoid the risk of any kind of litigation.
What About Existing Employee Background Checks?
Keep in mind that post-hire screenings are also sometimes conducted in addition to pre-employment screenings. And if you’re running background checks on existing employees, you still need to get permission. FCRA regulations cover all background checks, not just ones done on prospective hires.
Since existing employees might not be too keen on the idea of random background checks, it’s important not to announce it abruptly. Make it clear why you’ve decided to conduct screenings and when and how often they’ll take place. This will make the entire process transparent and less stressful for all parties.
Need to Run Pre- or Post-Employment Background Checks?
Partnering with a Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) provider ensures you’re staying compliant with all federal, state, and local regulations as they relate to conducting background checks. Metrodata Services is the PBSA-accredited provider that can help your company conduct screenings fairly and legally. Contact us today to learn more