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The ABCs of Applicant Background Checks

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As part of the hiring process, employers should be conducting background checks to verify information provided by the applicant.  According to a 2017 survey conducted by HireRight, a background screening company, an astonishing 85% of applicants lie on their application or resume! Unless you personally know the applicant well, you should take the time to confirm educational background, professional certifications and work history.

Many companies don’t conduct background checks because of the difficulty in getting relevant information from past employers.  Companies, worried about getting sued, are afraid to provide anything other than dates of employment and whether or not the person is “eligible for rehire.”  However, Louisiana provides legal protection for employers who provide information about work history in good faith.

LA Rev. Stat. 23:291 – Disclosure of employment-related information: “Any employer that … provides accurate information about a current or former employee’s job performance or reasons for separation shall be immune from civil liability and other consequences of such disclosure provided such employer is not acting in bad faith.” 

Here are some suggestions on how to take a closer look at applicants before making a hiring decision:

  1. Require the applicant to provide you with official (sealed) transcripts and proof of certifications if required for the position.
  2. Have the applicant sign a release for employment references so that you can provide a copy to the people you contact for work history information.
  3. Ask the applicant to introduce you by email message to the person who can provide information about his or her work history – this demonstrates that the former employee is granting permission for the company representative to answer your questions.
    • Schedule a time to contact the company representative by telephone – you will learn more by having a conversation with this person (tone of voice, pauses, etc. will tell you more of the story).
    • Tell the company representative what the applicant has told you about his or her job title, duties, the reason for leaving and ask for confirmation.
    • Describe the job duties of the position you are trying to fill and ask if the applicant would be a good fit.

The time you take to conduct a background check may keep you from making a costly mistake.  Failure to check employment references can result in hiring the wrong person for the job or even “negligent hiring”—a claim made by an injured party against an employer based on the theory that the employer knew or should have known about the employee’s background which, if known, indicates a dangerous or untrustworthy character.

An HR professional can help you with all of your human resources needs. From hiring the right employees, running background checks, creating employee handbooks that include anti-harassment policies and procedures, and so much more, Next Level Solutions can work with you to provide the services that you need to run your business.

Don’t risk being out of compliance or letting your employee handbook become obsolete; give us a call today to see how we can become your human resources partner.