Employment Background Checks and Applicants’ Rights

background check applicant rightsMany companies conduct background checks on job applicants before making offers of employment. The Federal Trade Commission enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the federal law that governs employment-related background checks. The law explains what information can be obtained, how it can be used, and what protections job applicants have.

An employer may ask for information on an applicant’s employment history, education, criminal record, financial history, medical history, and use of social media. Employers may not treat applicants differently on the basis of race, national origin, gender, religion, disability, genetic information, or age, if the applicant is over 40.

Before an employer obtains a background check report, the company must tell the applicant that the information might be used to make a decision on whether or not to offer employment. The applicant must give written permission to conduct a background check. An applicant may refuse to give permission, but the employer may reject the application for employment.

If an employer decides not to hire, retain, or promote a person because of information in a background check, it must give the person a copy of the report and a ”Summary of Rights.” If the applicant finds a mistake in the background report, he or she can ask the company to fix it and notify the employer.

If an applicant is rejected for employment based on criminal history or financial information, the employer must provide the name, address, and phone number of the company that provided the information and say that the company did not make the decision on the adverse action. The applicant has the right to dispute the information in the report and to obtain a free report from the company that provided it.

If you believe your rights related to a background check have been violated, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Connecticut Creates Background Check Program for Long-term Care Workers

long-term care background checks ConnecticutThe Connecticut Department of Public Health has created a comprehensive program to check the backgrounds of employees at long-term care facilities. The new program is intended to better protect elderly and disabled residents by helping providers identify applicants with criminal convictions or histories of patient abuse or neglect. It applies to nursing homes, residential care homes, home health agencies, assisted living service agencies, intermediate care facilities for people with intellectual disabilities, long-term care hospitals, and hospice providers.

The Department of Public Health has worked with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection to create the Applicant Background Check Management System. The web-based program allows long-term care facilities to submit information on applicants or volunteers and to use fingerprints to check criminal records and registries. Long-term care facilities that are subject to the background check program need to register with the background check management system.

The program is supported by a grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the National Background Check Program. Employers will be able to conduct background checks free of charge until grant funds run out. After that, employers will need to pay $80 per applicant.

The program was created in response to a new state law that requires employers to conduct a national background check for all prospective direct care employees or volunteers. The check must include a search of state and federal criminal records, abuse and neglect registries, and databases such as the Connecticut Nurse Aide Registry.

Before the system was created, each care facility decided whether to conduct background checks. Most did so by using sites that sometimes allowed people with criminal records to slip through the cracks.

Home Care & Background Checks

microscope background check

There is hope that a new law in one state will help protect seniors from the unregulated areas of the home health care industry.

The new law in Arizona requires non-medical in-home caregiver agencies to disclose information to consumers about background checks, training, cost of service and hiring and firing policies. This supply of information is not a one-time thing. It must be done on an annual basis.

One member of an in-home care association says the law is a good first step of transparency. It should help people feel safer when they set up in-home care for a loved one.

Disclosure notices have already gone out to new clients and this policy will continue. Again, the law is relatively new. It was just signed into law on April 1st of this year. The law applies to non-medical in-home care agencies and not to private individual caregivers. The disclosure form is also not required from specific home health care services, senior living facilities and clients who receive care and services through federal or state programs.

If agencies give those disclaimers to consumers, they are in violation of the law. Arizona is not unique in offering some sort of protection. Many states require certification for non-medical caregiver agencies.

If nothing else, the law should increase safety and should the importance of thorough background checks.

Healthcare, Medicaid and Background Checks

Beginning August 1st, any provider considered high risk for defrauding state Medicaid programs will be forced to undergo a criminal background check. The background check must include fingerprinting. The background checks will need to be completed by June 1st, 2016.

There will other changes as well. By March 2016, all of a state’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program providers must be ranked as limited, moderate or high risk of defrauding the program. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sent a letter to providers last month, making them aware of the upcoming changes.

The ranking of the providers will be up to the discretion of the states. A background check would begin after a state Medicaid agency has been identified as “high risk”. Also, if Medicare deems a provider “high risk”, Medicaid will likely initiate a background check. The requirement to submit fingerprints would apply to the high risk provider. It would also apply to a five percent or more direct or indirect ownership in the provider. Seems a little complex, but this rule should keep things a little simpler.

However, there are issues that remain somewhat cloudy. In 2011, the Affordable Care Act published a final rule, stating that Medicaid agencies must establish risk levels for providers with an increased risk of fraud. Since the rule did not specify the criteria for each risk, it leaves states responsible to determine how a high risk provider is identified.

Understanding the importance of background checks is invaluable, and not just in the healthcare industry. The best hiring managers make comprehensive background checks a vital part of the screening and hiring process.

The Reason for Complete Healthcare Background Checks

There is a real need for thoroughness when conducting background checks within the healthcare industry. Due diligence is needed to protect the safety and privacy of patients, as well as members of a medical staff.

Every so often, we will see an item in the news that highlights the importance of background checks in healthcare. The news stories often deal with criminal aspects that perhaps could have been prevented through proper background checks. This also highlights how, in some states, the medical board does not regularly conduct background checks on doctors.

One good way healthcare employers could prevent such issues is by having a consistent employment screening program.

Inadequate due diligence and negligent hiring practices should never be excused. In the healthcare industry, shaky employment screenings can lead to medical malpractice claims and lawsuits.

Thorough, efficient background checks and pre-employment screenings can pay dividends to all industries. A thorough background check should include social security number verification, a criminal record report, a check on education history and drug screening. They can also include things like credit reports.

The pre-employment screening process is a safeguard for the hiring manager to help make an educated decision when the time comes to choose a candidate for a position.