Back in the day, background screening was a relatively straightforward process, typically limited to drug testing and criminal background checks.
Since that time, most companies around the world have implemented new screening tools and technologies to augment and optimize their background screening process to obtain a full dossier on potential candidates in a timely manner, thereby gaining not only confidence in hiring decisions, but cost savings as well.
As we begin a new year with the pandemic still causing much disruption in the workplace, it’s important for HR professionals to be aware of background screening trends so that they are in full compliance with state and federal guidelines.
Below we provide three background screening trends that are important in the current environment, as well as two trends that are have been phased out.
Trends that will continue
Background Screenings for Gig Workers
Recent times have seen large growth in the number of gig workers and freelancers as companies have laid off employees due to the pandemic and uncertain economic future. While these workers may not be full time employees, they still pose some risk to our organization especially if they have access to sensitive information.
Whether the gig workers contribute 40 hours per week or 10, they should be carefully screened and vetted. As such, 2021 will see HR professionals requiring gig workers to undergo a full background screen just as if they were regular, full time employees.
Screenings for Current Employees
While a majority of companies conduct background checks prior to hiring candidates, many are also implementing the screening process after candidates are employed.
While pre-employment screening is critical to decrease the likelihood of hiring unqualified candidates or those with unsuitable backgrounds, instituting the screening process for current employees provides security against future risk to both the company and other staff.
Ongoing criminal background checks and drug testing are two processes that companies would be well-advised to institute on a periodic basis.
Using Technology for Background Screenings
Technology has also come to the recruitment process with the growth of Applicant Tracking Systems, mobile apps that allow candidate to apply from their smartphones, as well as keyword trackers that “search” resumes for important words relevant to the needs of a specific role.
Each of these tools introduces a few benefits to the hiring process, such as an improved candidate experience, process efficiency where all candidate information is contained in the candidates’ profile within the ATS for easy view by the hiring team, as well as accurate data gathering.
Trends phasing out
Salary History Questions
Many states have now prohibited companies from asking about a candidate’s salary history for employment screening purposes. While this was once one of the most common questions asked of candidates, the question has come under attack because it highlighted pay disparities between men and women.
Historically, the salary bar has been set higher for men. For example, if a woman and man are competing for the same role and the woman earns $70,000 while the man earns $80,000, the woman may be more likely to be offered the role.
The thinking here is that knowing salary history of applicants maintains income disparity between genders (in 2020 it was estimated that women earn 81 cents for every dollar earned by men). Without knowing salary history, both candidates would be offered the same salary which over time, will close the disparity gap.
Negative Impact of Criminal History
The “Ban the Box” regulation was put into effect so that those candidates with criminal histories are given the same consideration as other applicants in terms of education and experience, rather than being rejected outright based on forensic history. The philosophy behind this movement is the theory that those candidates with forensic history are more likely to become repeat offenders if they fail to find suitable employment.
The best time for employers to consider a candidate’s criminal background is further along the hiring process so that this information may be measured with all other information about a candidate obtained from the hiring process so that the team can make a judicious decision based on factual data rather than subjective interpretation.
Compliance is Always in Fashion
The background screening process needs to comply with all federal and state regulations. This is a requirement that will never be phased out. Compliance includes following all FCRA guidelines, maintaining proper documentation for each phase of the background screening process, setting consistent screening processes so that all candidates are evaluated in the same way, and making hiring decisions according to Fair Labor Standards.
Compliance needs to be a top priority as adherence protects your company from legal issues and possible damages arising from careless, incomplete or inconsistent screening processes. If one thing is certain it is change. HR professionals need to keep current with regard to screening regulations so that your company can successfully meet the challenges inherent in meeting all compliance regulations.