Would Your Employment Screening Process Pass This 10-Point Audit? 18 Sep 2017
Besides the important step of choosing a competent background screening firm, would your employment screening process pass a formal audit? Here are 10 criteria to consider, so you can feel prepared when the auditors come knocking at your door.
Does your employment screening process…
1. Work With a Responsible Consumer Reporting Agency
Background screeners who pledge to standards prescribed by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) have proven expertise, a positive compliance history, and systems in place to align with the latest employment laws, making them a valuable asset to your organization. Association with NAPBS gives you a level of trust and demonstrated good faith should a dispute arise, since you took care to hire the right screening firm.
2. Determine The Extent of Attorney-Client Privilege
Any information gathered during an audit could potentially be used in future litigation. Working with in-house counsel at the onset of an audit can help you determine if any work-in-progress documentation, or subsequent changes, will be protected by the attorney-client privilege.
3. Involve Other Stakeholders in Your Organization
Your employment screening program eventually touches everyone in the organization, but there are particular stakeholders who can provide valuable insights for any auditing exercise. Gathering input from Human Resources, Legal, Compliance, Security, and Operations will provide well-rounded perspective and ensure alignment with other corporate-wide initiatives.
4. Assign an In-House Expert
As a best practice, your team should have at least one employment screening expert who is charged with staying abreast of the complex issues surrounding background screening and employment law. In-house experts will help to ensure full compliance with federal, state, and local employment laws. Designated experts can alert others to any needed process changes.
5. Include All Locations
If your organization has multiple locations, there are additional needs to address. Representative stakeholders from each location should be included in the audit, and charged with implementing any needed updates at their respective locations. You can either choose to centralize these efforts through corporate offices, or allow field offices to make the final hiring determinations. Staying compliant requires that these communications channels be maintained to assure all affected will get timely updates.
6. Assure There Are No Compliance Issues – Now or Later
While compliance is an issue for all companies, it’s of particular concern if yours is part of a highly-regulated field like health care, transportation or financial services.
Legal and HR departments should come together at least annually to evaluate existing and pending state and federal legislation or industry-specific regulations, to confirm their screening program in in conformance. It’s also good practice to monitor compliance issues and proactively address the need for changes to government or industry regulations.
7. Show Consistency
A self-audit can also help to identify potential costly gaps in your current employment background screening program. Proactive organizations cannot only find ways to improve the screening process, but also correct any paperwork errors, such as I-9 mistakes, which could be costly in the event of a federal audit.
Employers who require mandatory drug screening must assure that their policies for employee selection, notification and testing are (1) consistent, (2) randomized and (3) non-discriminatory.
8. Act With Timeliness
The biggest challenge reported by companies using employment screening processes is reducing the overall time-to-hire. This is understandable If your HR staff are checking each candidate’s information against state and federal databases manually, on their own.
A reputable background screening service makes it possible for employers to run multiple background checks on job candidates quickly. Upgrading to an electronic background screening solution allows you to centralize and automate several layers of screening in one quick, easy process.
9. Manage and Mitigate Risks
The trick here is to determine exactly the right level of background screening that meets your hiring criteria and workplace safety standards, so that your organization remains compliant with all the applicable regulations and is still able to hire the best talent.
If you’re thinking of adding several layers of extra screening, assess whether there’s any true risk mitigation benefit. If not, think about a more streamlined program going forward.
10. Integrate With Your Other Systems
How well do the various components of your background screening program integrate with the other software and systems in use? If you find that HR staff are entering data into multiple locations, think about finding a better-integrated electronic screening solution.
Lack of integration doesn’t just slow down the process; it also increases the chances for human error. If your organization gets audited and cannot demonstrate a uniform screening audit trail, this could turn into a red flag issue.
When “over-caution” is warranted
Due to the constantly evolving nature of laws, regulations and technology involved in the background screening process today, performing your own proactive “pre-audit” is not as overly cautious as it may sound from the recommendations above. Background screening oversights can result in costly fines from regulators, judgments from litigation, or damage to your brand in the case of newsworthy class actions.
Robyn Kunz is the Chief Compliance Officer at Trusted Employees. She has worked in the background screening industry for over 15 years and holds Advanced Certification in the Fair Credit Reporting Act from the National Association of Professional Background.
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