Employment Background Check Facts and Myths
The Survey Group (TSG), a consulting firm located in New England, reported in their annual 2009 Employee Programs and Practices Survey published on March 31, 2009, that more than 80 percent of employers do a background check on potential employees by performing some form of employee screening. Therefore, it is a good idea to understand the truth and myths surrounding background checks and what employers may learn about potential employees.
To ease the minds of job hunters, here is a list of what potential employers can and cannot learn about a potential employee through a pre-employment background check.
Employment Background Check
Potential employers can access:
- Bankruptcy Filings
- Workers Compensation Claims
- Social Security Number
- Educational Records
- Military Service Records
- Work History
- Driving Records
Potential employers cannot access:
- Arrest Records
- Medical Records
- Credit Reports
Employment Background Check Myths
Criminal Background Check
An employer cannot access an criminal background check and know more. Arrest records will only be viewed if one was convicted of a crime or is pending trial. Generally, on the application for employment, there is a question about one’s criminal history including the listing of any previous felonies or misdemeanors. This does not disqualify a potential employee from a job but it may put up a red flag. Furthermore, there is room for explanation if a crime is on one’s record.
Employers do not have the authority to request medical records and cannot use them when making a hiring decision. However, they can inquire into physical restrictions that may inhibit job performance.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) employers must receive written consent before seeking an employee’s or potential employee’s credit report. However, if they run a credit check with an employee’s consent, it is best to first check out what they may find.
Employee Background Check
Bankruptcies are public record. However, employers cannot discriminate against applicants because they have filed for bankruptcy.
Workers Compensation Claims
When an employee’s claim goes through the state system or the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB), the case becomes public record. An employer may only use this information if an injury might interfere with one’s ability to perform required duties.
Social Security Number
An employer will be able to verify a social security number.
Educational records are only viewed if there is consent from the student. However, a school can release what they call “directory information” which can include your name, address, dates of attendance, degrees earned, and activities you participated in, that is unless written notice has been given not to release that information.
Military Service Records
The military can disclose name, rank, salary, assignments and awards without consent.
Verification of dates of employment and positions held can be obtained.
Driving records are not confidential and can be released without consent. However, they are usually not included in the standard pre-employment background check unless driving is an essential aspect of the job.
In conclusion, potential employers can find a plethora of information about candidates in the through an employment background check. Chances of landing a job can become much more difficult if red flags are raised in the employee screening phase. Not all employers screen candidates but be wary that most do.