A Closer Look at “Ban the Box” Rules

Many businesses haven’t changed their hiring procedures much in recent years. “If it works, why mess with it?” is an oft-heard refrain. While there is a convenience in doing the old-fashioned way, new rules have come into play that may limit how companies can conduct background checks on prospective employees.

What is “Ban the Box?”

As of 2019, 35 states, the District of Columbia and over 150 cities and counties have adopted what’s called “ban the box” rules that ensure employers must consider a job candidate’s qualifications first before they can consider the candidate’s conviction or arrest record. The goal is to help people who may have criminal convictions in their past gain employment by giving them a fair chance for a job. In practice, “Ban the Box” removes the conviction history question from job applications and delays background checks until later in the hiring process.

While many of the rules are broad and in some cases apply only to federal employees or contractors, 12 states—California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—have also required the removal of conviction history questions from job applications for private employers. Aside from the most local of companies who do business entirely outside of these states, this means the rules could affect a majority of companies doing business in the U.S. In fact, if you add up the population of the states and localities that have adopted “Ban the Box” policies, there are now over 258 million people in the U.S. —which represents more than three-quarters of the U.S. population— who live in a jurisdiction with some form of fair-chance hiring policy.

Updated Hiring Policies

In addition to “Ban the Box,” most of these states and municipalities are adopting the best practices created in the 2012 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance on using arrest and conviction records in employment decisions, which can further complicate the rules of recruiting and hiring.

For this reason, if your hiring procedures haven’t been updated recently, you could be in violation of the law. Hiring is a complex process today, particularly for organizations that hire across state or county lines. To ensure you’re not violating the rights of prospective employees, it’s a good idea to rely on background checks by a professional agency.

Ensure You’re Doing Background Checks Properly

Criminal history background checks are an integral part of the hiring process and help protect companies and their employees. It’s essential, however, that employers ensure they’re following all the rules, including fair employment mandates.

Get Professional Help

With the services of a professional pre-employment background screening company like DataCheck, you can protect your workers and your business and avoid negligent hiring lawsuits while still complying with “ban the box” laws. Contact DataCheck at 949-339-2305 or visit our website.

70% of Employers Are Using Social Media to Screen Candidates

Employers today have a wide variety of screening tools at their disposal. It helps that potential employees, like most Americans, regularly publish information about themselves. More and more companies are using this information – most of it accessible by social media – to pre-check candidates before they put out a job offer.

According to a study conducted by CareerBuilder last year, 70 percent of employers say they are now using social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and about 43 percent of employers use social media to check on current employees. The goal, companies say, is to ensure that the individual is a good “fit” for the company, and to ferret out any reasons NOT to hire someone.

Employers who responded to the CareerBuilder survey listed the following reasons for pre-screening candidates on social media:

  • Information that supports their qualifications for the job (61 percent)
  • If the candidate has a professional online persona at all (50 percent)
  • What other people are posting about the candidates (37 percent)
  • For any reason at all not to hire a candidate (24 percent)

Professional Screening Services

Checking social media can be a tedious process, however, which is why there is an increasing number of tools and services that can help you use available information – not just social media, but search engines too – to build a better picture of a job candidate and ensure you’ve got the right person.

At DataCheck, we provide pre-employment background checks, drug tests and screening services that include a comprehensive search of the major social media platforms to gain insight into a candidate’s online behavior and appropriateness based on your company’s basic code of conduct and values.

Using our services you can uncover evidence of criminal behavior, unprofessional conduct or lies, and misrepresentation about experience and education. The goal is to prevent you from hiring candidates who aren’t a good fit or who could even be a danger to the company’s existing employees and reputation.

For more information about how DataCheck can help with screening candidates via social media and other means, visit our web site or call 800-253-3394.

Sharing Economy Boosting Need for Employee Background Checks

While certain jobs have always required background checks for security of employees as well as protection from lawsuits on the part of employers, a new generation of needs are cropping up thanks to the “sharing economy.”

The Internet has enabled a variety of new business models, and one of them involves enabling consumers and service providers to reach each other directly. The result has been companies like Airbnb, which allows private homeowners to put their unused rooms and apartments to use as rentals, or Lyft and Uber, which help vehicle owners earn money by providing affordable ridesharing services.

Security an Issue in the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy has its downsides, and one of them has proven to be security. Hotels and taxi companies, for example, are often regulated by federal, state or local authorities, but collaborative platforms frequently are not. Thanks to some high-profile stories in the news about a lack of security with some sharing services, consumers are understandably nervous about opening their homes to strangers or getting into a car with one.

Uber has been hit hard in recent years by high-profile security issues. Under guidance from a new CEO, the ridesharing company announced it will begin performing annual criminal background checks on U.S. drivers and hire third-party service providers to continually monitor criminal arrests in an attempt to do a better job of keeping riders safe. A series of high-profile security problems and scandals led to the resignation of former CEO Travis Kalanick last year.

Providers Need to Build Trust

Peer-to-peer sharing, while a revolutionary idea that is cutting out extra expenses from “middlemen,” is a concept that doesn’t work without trust. For digital and app-based sharing businesses to grow in the current economy, they must create a sense of safety and trust for buyers.

“If you’re not working to build and demonstrate it, then the future might be about to leave you behind, as trust is quickly becoming the global — and most-valued — currency of modern time,” wrote TechCrunch’s Adriana Stan, who noted that the sharing economy needs a “codification of trust.”

Hire Professionals

Most companies aren’t equipped to ensure that all employees are deserving of positions of trust. (And do you really want to take the chance?) Professional third-party background investigation companies like DataCheck specialize in obtaining pertinent information through criminal background checks on a statewide and national level, past employment and background history information, and background investigations for DMV history, credit reports, drug screening, and many other aspects on individuals for employers nationwide.

Before you begin offering services to the public, ensure your customers can trust your employees.

Contact DataCheck today with your employment screening needs.

California Bars Employers from Asking Applicants about Salary History

Last year, the State of California passed a series of labor and employment bills that redefine the rules employers must follow when hiring workers in the state. The new laws, which went into effect at the beginning of 2018, address workers’ wages and hours, leaves of absence and benefits, hiring practices, health and safety issues and other workplace protections. Under the terms of one of the new rulings, employers in California are now barred from asking about an applicant’s salary history.

What Is AB 168?

California Assembly Bill (AB) 168 not only makes it illegal to ask about salary history, it prohibits an employer from relying on the salary history information of an applicant for employment as a factor in determining whether to offer the applicant a job, or determining what salary to offer the applicant. In addition, employers must provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant if he or she asks.

The legislation applies to all employers in the state, public and private, and covers not just salary, but other types of compensation and benefits. Employers need to be sure that all workers who may be involved in the hiring process understand what they can and cannot ask applicants.

Don’t Ask, But Applicants Can Tell

In most parts of the state, applicants could, however, choose to volunteer the information, according to the language of the new law. (San Francisco is the sole city to make it illegal to use volunteered salary information, according to Silicon Valley Business Journal.) It’s also permissible to ask about an applicants salary expectations.

“If an applicant voluntarily and without prompting discloses salary history information to a prospective employer, nothing in this section shall prohibit that employer from considering or relying on that voluntarily disclosed salary history information in determining the salary for that applicant,” according to the legislation.

What’s the Goal?

The goal of AB 168 is to attempt to remove the perceived gap in negotiating power between an employer and employees who must disclose their prior salary. Mandating the disclosure of salary history is often viewed as a way of perpetuating a gender gap in which women, who often start job-hunting at lower salaries than men, continue to lag behind in pay for the same positions.

How Do You Ensure Compliance?

It helps to consult with third-party experts who understand California labor laws. Ontario, California-based DataCheck understands how to comply with the new rules in California as well as similar rules in other states and cities. While many employers engage in background checking applicants today, there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way. Ensure you’re remaining within the margins of the law by seeking help from professionals.
Contact us today!

How to Make Sure Your Disclosure and Authorization Forms Comply with the FCRA

If your company is planning to hire one or more new employees, you probably want to conduct pre-employment background checks on applicants during the hiring process. This can help you hire people who are qualified for the job, are honest, and do not pose a risk to other employees or customers. Conducting thorough background checks is an important component of the hiring process that can help you make good decisions and avoid negligent hiring lawsuits.

Fair Credit Reporting Act Requirements

You need to be careful to follow the law, however. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets out guidelines for pre-employment background checks. It is designed to protect the rights of consumers and specifies certain procedures that employers need to follow when conducting background checks.

One area where many employers get into trouble is with disclosure and authorization forms. An employer is required to obtain a job applicant’s consent in writing before conducting a background check. This step cannot be skipped because it can expose you to a lawsuit if you conduct a background check without permission.

Some employers find themselves sued because of the way their disclosure and authorization forms are worded and organized. The Fair Credit Reporting Act says that an employer must notify an applicant in writing that a consumer report will be obtained as part of the hiring process. This must be in a disclosure form that does contain any other information. Some companies that included other information alongside the disclosure and authorization information have found themselves the subjects of class-action lawsuits by job applicants.

How to Make Sure You Comply with the FCRA

You can avoid problems by making sure that you use a disclosure and authorization form that complies with the rules set out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It should make clear to an applicant that a consumer report will be obtained as part of the hiring process. The disclosure should not contain any other information that could be confusing or that could distract from the intent of the form.

DataCheck has helped businesses all over the United States conduct pre-employment background checks. We can help you obtain information on job applicants’ backgrounds so you can make the right hiring decisions. We can also help you make sure you comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and state and local laws. Contact DataCheck today to learn more about our background check services.