Background checks / Employee Screening in the USA

Companies in the USA conduct a background check before finalizing candidates. A background check in the USA will include a detailed investigation of the prospective candidate’s social and professional background with specific prerequisites determined by the company or employer.

This article extensively covers screening any candidate's background in the USA. Read on to learn more about the various types of checks and the processes that facilitate the USA background check law.

What Is Employment Background Verification?

The process of employment background verification for the USA entails a detailed checking of a prospective candidate’s past employment records, education history, criminal records, credit history, license records, motor vehicle history, among other vital aspects of their previous and present background. A candidate should first contact their respective organizations to see what category or classification is required.

Benefits of Background Check in the USA

Pre-employment background checks in the USA are beneficial to both the prospective employee and the employer/organization hiring them. 

Here are a few reasons why it is always safe to have a proper employment background check in the USA:

  • ~Improved hiring quality - A parity is maintained in hiring the best candidate for a particular position.
  • ~Improved safety - Background checks help pick out candidates with potentially threatening backgrounds. It also creates a safer work environment. 
  • ~Credible qualifications - This provides a transparent mode of communication between the employee and their organization regarding their professional and personal backgrounds.
  • ~Faster redressal mechanism - An employee will be entitled to complete protection under the USA legal system if the employer/organization discriminates against them due to their background.

Are Background Checks Legal in the USA?

Background checks in the US are legal. This process ensures that employers have the fundamental legal right to know the background of the candidate they are about to hire for the safety and smoother functioning of the organization.

In addition, all the information disclosed to the employer during a background check is available on public records. For example, social education history, any criminal violation, or a court case are all unclassified information.

However, there are strict laws and regulations on what data the employer can fact check; and a rigid redressal mechanism system for the employee if anything goes wrong.

They are listed here as follows:

  1. The Fair Credit Recording Act (FCRA) provides detailed steps for employers to background check their employees. They should obtain a rigid rule of the candidate’s written consent in their declaration of information. In addition, the employer must also present to the candidate with disclosure and authorization forms submitted independently of any other consent forms.
  1. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and its rigid guidance under the FCRA declare that all candidates are to be treated equally in the eyes of employers. It is given that disclosure of all records of a candidate’s personal and previous professional life is considered while deciding for the position. No one should be discriminated against due to their gender, race, color, age, or disability. The selection can vary from position to position, but it should never vary for all candidates applying for one particular role. 

There are certain prohibitions on the credit history checks of a candidate. An employer would judge a candidate’s saving capability, expenditure, and financial responsibility while doing a credit history check. 

Things to Know When Performing a Background Check in the USA

The USA background check process is vast. Here are some components a candidate might have to provide to their employers during an employment background check in the USA. 

Employment History

Employers often check a candidate’s previous employment history to understand why the candidate has left the last job. The main focus points of prior employment records are:
  • ~Joining dates of joining and 
  • ~Leaving dates
  • ~Financial record
  • ~Performance graphs
  • ~Job title description
However, employers are prohibited from accessing salary information without the employee's consent.

Education History

Many professions like healthcare, IT, or related fields require specific basic prerequisite qualifications that a prospective candidate must hold to be eligible for the job. An employer can legally ask for past college or university degrees, special skills or qualifications related to the job description, or other certifications.

Criminal record

A criminal background check in the USA may be required only for certain professions like healthcare, IT, and education. This ensures that the employee is not a potential threat to anyone in their workplace and that employers can trust them with essential responsibilities.
However, criminal record background checks in the USA have to be done by taking special legal permission. The candidates have to provide their written consent to the organization and comply with all the strict rules and regulations of the FCRA. If there is any discrimination complaint, this act can cost the employer or organization dearly.

Credit report

Credit reports are a part of the background checks of jobs related to finances or higher managerial positions. Since this involves a candidate’s financial disclosure, there should again be written consent and guidelines followed according to the FCRA.

Social Life

Employers can also check a person’s motor vehicle license and its validity and ensure if the candidate is legally allowed to hold the license in different states of the USA.
For fields related to Data security or IT, your employer might also want to monitor your past social media activity. This is important for the employer to see that one is not a potential online threat or can leak the company's essential cyber data.

Information Essential for Background Checks in the USA

  1. An employee should remember that the above components are some of the information the employer can LEGALLY ask; anything outside the legal jurisdiction is unlawful and should be reported. 
  2. The FCRA gives the employer benefits to complain against discrimination if needed. 
  3. In addition, there are some background checks like criminal history and credit reports that NEED written consent from the employee to be performed. 
  4. At any given point, an employer cannot ask for any salary information of your previous job, which falls outside the jurisdiction. This is why many previous employers do not disclose your financial information.

Process Involved in Background Checks

Background checks vary for different professions and according to the number of components checked. However, with a few exceptions, here is the rough process of a background check in the USA that you can expect: 

The process begins with verifying a candidate’s authenticity through the information provided: the date of birth proof, address proof, social security number, etc. Next, a series of searches and detailed records are conducted based on further information provided. Sometimes candidates are also asked to give their fingerprints as added proof. Furthermore, a lot of public databases and court records are checked. 

In many cases, previous organizations like the candidate’s workplace/college are contacted manually to seek added transparency.

Industries and Situations That are Most Suitable for Background Checks in the USA

Background checks are needed in the USA by law, and here are some of the positions/industries most suitable for extensive background checks. 

Education Sector- If you are applying for the position of a principal, professor, teacher, administrative staff, or support staff, it is compulsory and beneficial to have your background checks completed. This prevents the law from not hiring potentially criminal offenses or previous abusers to be employed around below-18 kids or teenagers.

Healthcare Sector- There is a long background screening process in the USA when a candidate is applying for any healthcare-related position like a doctor, nurse, or medical assistant. This is to ensure the utmost safety of the patients.

Government Positions- Prospective candidates applying for a government job at any federal, state, or local level can expect a detailed background search in the USA background check law.

Financial Sector- It is crucial for prospective candidates applying for financial management positions to have a thorough background search in the USA background check law. Any financial declaration shall be monitored in this case, and it is advisable not to have criminal convictions, especially in money-related matters.

IT Fields- Data security has become an ever-increasing threat nowadays, ensuring whoever is hired in this field has a clean background and employment track record. Many applicants who have previously worked with sensitive data are more susceptible to rigorous scrutiny.

How Does Multiplier Help With Background Checks?

An employment background check in the USA is essential to recruit quality talent to eliminate any anomalies in the applicant’s employment history. Having an authorized background check completed in the USA is, in fact, necessary as it provides a safe space of redressal for a prospective employee in case of any discrimination or attack based on the information provided.

Multiplier is a SaaS-based platform that simplifies onboarding and payroll processes. We help you throughout the entire hiring procedure, ensuring safety and trust. As a co-employer, Multiplier enables you to navigate all complexities of international hiring, including labor laws and benefits. From drafting contracts and compliant hiring to salary guides and payroll processing, Multiplier is your partner for managing global teams.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are background checks vital?

Background checks in the USA are crucial for many organizations. They are necessary and safekeeping of both the candidate and the hiring organization. According to data, around 72% of hiring bodies conduct a thorough background check on their prospective employees.

Which sectors are most prone to conduct a background check on their employees?

The industries prone to conduct background checks in the USA include the Education sector, the financial sector, the health industry, any position for the federal, state, or local governments, and the IT fields. 

Why is social life included in an employee background check in the USA?

A candidate’s social media activity comes under scrutiny while applying for a job in the fields related to Data security or IT. This is important for the employer to check and scrub out any potential online threat that can leak essential cyber data.

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