April 11th, 2018 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

What Do You Need for a Criminal Record Check?

When I started at Sterling Talent Solutions, I had to get a background screen to be hired for the job. It was the first time I had to get a background check and I had a lot of questions. I wasn’t sure of the process, what information I had to provide, what forms I needed to fill out, how long it would take and if I took too long to provide info would it delay me getting hired for the job. I found that a background check is not as simple as one would think. Many parts go into a background check from conducting a criminal record check to verifying my past employment and education. All the components of an employment background check help organizations get a better overall picture of their candidates to give them the insight they need to make an informed hiring decision.

Background Screening Regulations

The background screening industry is highly regulated by federal, state and local laws. At the federal level, background checks are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines. According to FCRA guidelines, employers cannot look at information that is older than seven years for civil judgments, arrest records, collection records, and paid tax liens and ten years for bankruptcies.

One requirement of the FCRA is that a company must notify the candidate that they will be performing a background check. The notice will explain that the results of the background check will be used for hiring, promotion or retention. After explaining the intent of performing a background check, employers must receive consent (either on paper or online) from a job candidate to run a criminal record check and that the results will be used in making hiring decisions.

What Do I Need to Supply for a Criminal Record Check?

It is important to be informed about the process and what information you need to provide for the background check. Remember to read the consent form carefully before you sign it. Providing the correct information at the time of consent will help to speed up the background check process. Items that you will can be asked for to complete a criminal record check include:

  • Full Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Known Aliases
  • Current and past addresses
  • Driver’s License Number

Background Check Procedures

Once you provide the information to the HR manager and sign the consent form, an internal HR team member or an employment screening service will conduct the background checks. The Society of Human Resource Managers, (SHRM) explains what comes next, “A designated HR representative will review all results, then the HR representative will notify the hiring manager regarding the results of the check. In instances where negative or incomplete information is obtained, the appropriate management and the director of Human Resources will assess the potential risks and liabilities related to the job’s requirements and determine whether the individual should be hired.”

Adverse Action Process

What happens when a candidate is disqualified for a position based on what is found in their background check? The FCRA requires two more steps that must be completed by an employer: Pre-Adverse Action and Adverse Action. Below is some information about the process:

  • Pre-Adverse Action – Pre-adverse action is solely a challenge to the accuracy of the information on which an employer has already has based its conditional decision. If a candidate does not contest the accuracy of the report within the required five days or does contest the information but the re-investigation confirms the original findings, the candidate may take adverse action. A Pre-Adverse Action Notice/letter is sent to the candidate along with the copy of the background screening report, federal summary of rights and any appropriate state summary of rights.
  • Adverse Action – Adverse Action is an action that denies an individual employment or promotion, etc. In this final step, an Adverse Action letter is sent with another copy of the federal summary of rights and any appropriate state summary of rights. If the specific Adverse Action steps are not followed, it could lead to litigation.

Employers are required to keep the consent and authorization forms, Adverse Action letters and background screening reports for candidates who were not hired in a master file for five years plus the current year from the date of the background check. If you are hired, the employer must keep the information in a master file or personnel file for the same amount of time.

Background screening is complicated. There is no way around it, but understanding what information you need to be prepared for the background check will help the turnaround time and put you a step ahead of other candidates. For other questions about the process, check out our FAQs at the Sterling Talent Solutions’ website.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.