When Marks on an Employment Criminal Background Check Raise Red Flags in the Company Policy 14 Nov 2017


Definition of Employment Criminal Background Check: is the process of investigating the backgrounds of potential employees. It is used to verify the accuracy of an applicant’s claims. It is a great way to discover any possible criminal history, workers compensation claims, or employer sanctions of the applicant. It’s a very common procedure that companies go through when hiring new employees and it can go a long way in protecting them from fraudulence.

Now, that we tackled the definition, here is how it all works in practice. You’ve vetted, interviewed, and found who you think is the perfect candidate for that open position. Your offer has been accepted, pending an employment criminal background check, of course.

Then you get the report and a few black marks are raising a big red flag in your mind. What do you do next?

If you have an existing company policy, this is the time to reference it. If the organization doesn’t have a policy, use this event as motivation for creating one.

No matter if you’re a small, mom-and-pop shop or a Fortune 500 company, hiring guidelines are helpful for streamlining common HR issues. One of those issues is dealing with negative marks on a background check for employment. The following are a few guidelines that might be included in this policy:

What’s an acceptable policy for a Criminal Background Check:

Which, if any, criminal history records are acceptable? Some companies may have a zero-tolerance policy and others may be more flexible. For example, felonies generally fit into the category of violent and non-violent. Will your organization deny employment for both? How about convictions of a lesser degree? Consider the nature of the business as well as the responsibilities this person would have while at work when making a decision. One of our previous posts talks about “Ensuring an Employment Criminal Background Check is Accurate” so check it out to read about common causes and what to do in these unfortunate situations.

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One item you may want to include in the policy is if dates matter in regard to how long ago the offense took place. If you’re interviewing a candidate in their mid-40s, you may not consider a crime as extensively if it happened when the person was 18 rather than just a couple of years ago. Does it matter if it was a few decades ago and the applicant’s record has been clean ever since?

Resume and application fraud:

Most employers agree that fraud is unacceptable from current employees as well as potential employees. State such on your policy. If you followed legal guidelines and inquired about a candidate’s criminal history but they lied about it, there’s a chance they will lie about other things during work. For example, maybe the applicant didn’t check a box about having a felony but one came up during the employee criminal background check.

Consistency is key:

Make it clear on the policy by stating the consequences and conditions for dismissal or denial of employment. Always be consistent in carrying out employment policies like this by dismissing current employees or candidates immediately after discovering fraud. This consistency can help negate any negligent hiring claims that may creep up at a later date.

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With a clear policy in hand, you’ve decided not to hire the candidate. Now it’s time to communicate that information, but you can’t just send an email saying you’ve chosen to go in another direction. You must follow important FCRA guidelines that deal with rejections after a negative background check for employment. Read “How to Lawfully Reject a Candidate After a Negative Employment Criminal Background Check” for more helpful advice.