Are Background Checks Necessary For Businesses?

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Background checks are becoming more common, with businesses using them now as a part of the final stage of their hiring process, but are they necessary, why do businesses conduct them and do you have to ask permission?

What is a background check?

A background check is the process of finding and reviewing a person’s criminal history, their recruitment history and occasionally their commercial history and financial records. The details of these checks can vary from country to country and state to state and so it’s important to reference the laws regarding background checks where you live. The service of conducting a background check is typically outsourced to a company such as Checkr who will find the person’s information and raise any red flags.

Why do businesses conduct background checks? 

Businesses may conduct a background check for many different reasons. Some roles especially those within government or finance may require them to do so. Other employers may opt to do one as a safeguarding measure and to help them gauge the character of a person and their suitability for a role. 

It has been estimated that up to 40% of people lie on their resume and a background check can help employers to find out if an applicant has made false claims regarding their employment or education history. Even the process of ringing up a persons references could be classed as a form of background check and is just a way for a potential employer to gauge the fit of a prospective employee and to check that they have not been dishonest in order to be considered for the role. 

A background check can also highlight any issues that may make someone unsuitable for their role for example it could highlight driving offences which could make a person unsuitable for a role as a delivery driver. Background checks can also highlight any criminal records and any time spent in jail, and although a person should not be disregarded for their criminal history alone this should be taken into consideration when trying to maintain a safe working environment. For example, a candidate with a violent history may not be suitable for a high stress working environment as they may pose a risk to other members of staff. Background checks are also often performed for roles in which the individual is responsible for money as a means of additional security and protection against theft. 

Do employers have to ask the candidates permission?

Yes, as a potential employer you must ask and receive written permission from a candidate in order to conduct a background check, otherwise this could be a breach of a person’s privacy. An employer is also required to offer a copy of the finished report should you wish to query anything stated within it. 

The laws around background checks and what can and cannot be done change from place to place, so be sure to read up on the laws for your location if you wish to conduct one or believe one is going to be conducted on you. 

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