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Ban the Box Updates: What Employers Need to Know

By now, most HR professionals and hiring managers have heard of Ban the Box and the legislation that is sweeping the nation. So, what are you doing to prepare for these changes? Are you confident that your onboarding process is up to date and compliant with the laws in place? Here we will help guide you in the direction to make sure your team is prepared for what is to come.

What are Ban-The-Box Laws?

In simplest terms, Ban the Box means that employers cannot ask on a job application or in certain parts of the hiring process about criminal history. For example, blanket statements like, “have you ever been convicted of a crime.”

These laws aim to put employers’ focus on applicants’ qualifications first, without blanket no-hire policies due to past criminal activity. In most cases, employers must wait until a conditional offer of employment is extended before asking about criminal history or conducting a background check.

On December 20, 2021, Congress enacted the Fair Chance Act. The purpose of the act is to give previous offenders a chance to find work in the United States Federal Government. The Fair Chance Act will “Ban the Box” asking about arrest and conviction history on job applicants for most Federal agencies and contractors. These questions and the background check cannot be started until the conditional job offer has been extended.

What steps can you take to be compliant?

Navigating Ban the Box laws can be confusing. We recommend, as a first step, consulting with your legal counsel. They’ll be able to look at your company profile, industry, and location to see what Ban the Box laws apply to you.

You’ll want to take that information and then review your job descriptions and applications. You’ll also want to be sure your hiring managers only ask about the criminal history during the correct time in the hiring process.

Whether these laws will apply to your organization depends on several factors:

  • Company size
  • Location(s) you hire in (city, county, and state)
  • Industry (different regulations can apply to education, childcare, health care, law enforcement, etc.)
  • Public vs private employer

Currently, 37 states and over 150 cities and counties have adopted similar laws.

While public employers appear to be moving to Ban the Box quicker than private employers, the lists continue to grow.

Currently, 15 states have Ban the Box laws in place for private employers. These include:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Furthermore, 22 cities and counties have Ban the Box laws in place for private employers. These include:

Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL; Columbia, MO; DeSoto, TX; District of Columbia; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Montgomery County, MD; New York­, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; Prince George’s County, MD; Rochester, NY; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Spokane, WA; St. Louis, MO; Suffolk County, NY; Waterloo, IA; and Westchester County, NY.

Check out the National Employment Law Project’s (NELP) detailed chart to see whether your city, county, or state has a policy or law.

What’s next?

It’s important to remember that background checks are still a crucial part of the hiring process. Not even the Federal Government, which has adopted Ban the Box entirely, is removing background screening from their hiring process. The safety of your employees, customers, and your organization’s reputation is still essential.

As these laws continue to sweep the country, it’s always best practice to ensure that your background check process is updated. Then, when it’s time to run the background check after a conditional job offer, you can keep things moving quickly.

One Source always recommends reviewing these five areas:

  • Background Check Policy
  • Disclosure
  • Authorization
  • Quality of Data
  • Adverse Action

Reach out to our team if you have any questions on ways you can follow compliance laws and regulations. Or you can learn more about how to stay compliant through our blog, Blueprint to a Compliant Background Check Process.

 

What Non-profits can Benefit from a Reliable Background Check Provider

Non-profit organizations understand, now more than ever, that accomplishing their mission rests on the shoulders of the people they hire and the volunteers that serve. Gone are the days when anyone willing to show up qualifies to represent the organization and its mission.

To safeguard against risks posed by employees and volunteers, most non-profit organizations have implemented background screening in their onboarding programs. They may conduct background checks internally by accessing state criminal record repositories and/or inexpensive “instant” online background checks or partnering with a professional background check provider.

Though not all background check providers are created equal, there are some notable benefits for non-profits partnering with the right one.

So, what do nonprofits need to look for in a reliable screening provider?
We recommend the three E’s – Expertise, Efficiency, and Effectiveness

Expertise

A reliable background check provider is a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA). To be accredited means they are an expert in the screening industry and the local, state, and federal laws that govern it. Be sure to partner with a background check company that follows the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA which includes numerous regulations that govern the onboarding practices for employers and non-profits included, across the United States.

Efficiency

Non-profits are tasked with being good stewards of their money and maximizing every dollar they receive. They want to devote their time, talent and treasure to their mission which may leave little to spend on other top priorities like quality staffing and onboarding procedures. While cost-efficiency in background screening is critical, “the cheaper the better” rarely rings true and may increase risk as the cost of the background check is not always indicative of its quality or accuracy.
An efficient background check provider should have these services to provide you with the answers you need to make an informed decision:

  • Automation Capabilities
  • Mobile-friendly Processes
  • Customizable Solutions
  • Real-time Data

Effectiveness

Non-profits need thorough background checks to maximize their recipients’ safety and fulfill their mission. The reports need to comply with FCRA and similar regulations. Above all, the reports should be fully customizable to serve the unique needs of every organization. The right background check provider aligns with the non-profit’s values and empowers its goal of onboarding volunteers and employees through informed decisions.

By entrusting their screening to a reliable background check provider nonprofit leaders can provide an additional layer of protection for their organizations and those they serve.

If you are interested in learning about best practices in volunteer screening, make sure to read our blog. Whether you’re considering volunteer screening for the first time or you’re a well-seasoned veteran, learn how to create an efficient screening process for your volunteers, here.

Should I screen my furloughed or laid off employees if they come back?

Furlough. Layoffs. Remote employees. The arrival of COVID-19 created a tidal wave of change for businesses of all sizes. As retail and office spaces begin to reopen, HR departments and leadership will be working together to establish return-to-work plans focused on safety, operational efficiency, and government-mandated protocols. Depending on whether employees were furloughed, laid off or able to work from home, businesses will need to take a close look at their new employee processes. Businesses need to determine whether it is necessary for them to be screening furloughed employees. 

Were your employees furloughed or laid off?

In most cases, it’s not necessary to implement the hiring process for furloughed employees. Legally, they remained an employee. So while you may not need to go through an application process,  reviewing contracts, salary, and benefits may be necessary. This could also be a good time to conduct a new screening of furloughed employees.

Lay-offs terminate existing contracts. If a business would like to re-employ an individual, it’s in their best interest to treat it as a new hire. It may be possible to relax some procedures, but weigh the risks before you change anything. Consider each layer of your process and carefully determine why or why not it’s necessary to follow each step. This should include everything from application forms to background checks. Furthermore, be prepared to explain to your re-hires that these screenings are in the best interest of the company moving forward.

Is this a good time to review state and local laws?

As leaders discuss plans for reopening, in addition to reviewing policies and employee handbooks, it is just as important to review current federal, state and local laws. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, if a former employee is rehired within three years of the origination date of the original Form I-9, employers have the option to either use the same form or complete a new one. Electing to utilize the previously completed form could help streamline the hiring and onboarding processes. This will allow you time to screen re-hires.

Businesses considering bringing employees back can also consider a solution that isn’t simply keeping all processes or eliminating others. When it comes to background screening, our team can work with yours to build a customized background screening program. We can help minimizes risk and supports your hiring process and goals. You may not yet know if you’ll re-screen returning members, but our services can give you confidence in your decision.

Protesting and background screenings: Is your business prepared?

Over 10,000 arrests in the last three weeks are from protests. These arrests vary widely and can be tricky for HR departments. When it comes to business policy, protesting and background screenings: What impact could an arrest due to protesting have on a prospective or current employee?

How arrests can impact a person’s record

Some arrests made this month are due to violent behavior. However, most are less serious crimes or petty infractions. These arrests include things like obstructing traffic and being out past curfew. A majority of protest-related arrests will be released without charges. But if an applicant is charged with a crime, then the arrest could rise to the surface during a pre-employment background check. One Source does not report arrest records—they cannot be considered in the hiring process. Other credit reporting agencies may report arrest records, but you will be unable to use them in hiring.

Each state handles cases like these differently. So people might now know whether their arrest will be removed from their record. Complex court systems and tedious administrative processes just add to the challenge. All of these challenges encourage businesses of all sizes and industries to take a closer look at their policies. 

Creating policies regarding criminal records

One Source tailors the pre-employment screening to the specific needs and concerns of your business. Flexibility is especially useful in the instance of protesting. For arrests made for non-violent infractions, businesses can emit these records from the screening. One Source offers these arrest reports, but they cannot be used for hiring purposes. Sharing your business’s policies with our team and discussing any additional requirements you have allows us to develop an appropriate, and thorough, screening to support your policies.

Consider your approach to social media checks, too

In addition to criminal records as they relate to protesting, it may be necessary to discuss your approach to any social media screening your business does as part of its hiring process. Outline your expectations and policies specific to social media can save your internal team time. This also helps inform potential (and existing) employees. One Source offers Fair Credit Reporting Act compliant social media checks, should you choose to screen social media.

As our world continues to evolve, take time to review and create policies to reflect what’s currently happening. This can help your business plan and prepare for what’s next. Develop policies to guide your HR processes and minimize hiring bias, improve screenings and enhance communications with prospective and current employees. Rely on the specialized expertise of your business partners, like us, to offer recommendations and opportunities that support your needs.

If you currently don’t have a policy in place regarding arrests due to protesting—for applicants and employees—this could be the right time to start an internal conversation.

What background checks do — and don’t — include

Hiring new employees is a fantastic opportunity for your business or organization to gain fresh knowledge and skills. However, the hiring process always contains an element of risk. Background checking your applicants serves as the best way to mitigate risk and ensure you find the best people. But what do background checks include?

To expedite your background screening process, it helps to understand what information you will receive in a background report. Once you know what to expect, it is easier to interpret reports and recognize if you need extra information.

One Source runs screenings through its unique TotalCheck packages. This comprehensive screening system is tailored to your company’s needs and your industry’s regulations. No matter your needs, TotalCheck always includes all the necessary parts of a common background check. Let’s take a look at what background checks do — and don’t include.

What’s in a background check?

A TotalCheck background report is comprised of six essential searches to give you peace of mind when hiring. These searches include:

Applicant History Trace

This search ensures your applicants are who they say they are. TotalCheck examines public records to verify an applicant’s identity and residential history. This search also looks into potential aliases and appearances on the Death Master Index.

County/Statewide Criminal History

We look at real-time county court criminal records to report any felony and misdemeanor convictions that may not be included in broader searches. Statewide searches also can be included where available.

Multi-Court Jurisdictional Database

This is an additional criminal check that searches millions of records from across the United States. We source the records from the Department of Corrections, county courthouses, state police reports, traffic court and more.

National Sex Offender Registry

TotalCheck searches sex-offender registries from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., all U.S. territories and more than 100 tribal registries.

Global Report

We examine an extensive database of public government watchlists and federal, state and industry sanction lists. We also check new records as governments release them.

Nationwide Federal Criminal

TotalCheck cross-references the government’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) U.S. Party Case Index with the Federal Bureau of Prisons database to ensure your check is comprehensive and valid.

What’s not in a background check?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) determines what information can and cannot be included in background checks conducted by third-party agencies. The standards set by the FCRA protect applicants’ privacy rights throughout the hiring process. One Source is compliant with the FCRA, so some credit information will not be in a TotalCheck package. The FCRA prohibits background check companies from reporting the following information:

  • Bankruptcies from more than 10 years ago.
  • Civil suits, arrests or non-convictions from more than seven years ago.
  • Paid tax liens from more than seven years ago.
  • Any adverse information, excluding criminal convictions, from more than seven years ago.

To learn more about how to use background checks or to start your company’s screening process, contact One Source Client Relations.

The 5-step guide to starting your company’s background check process

As your business grows, your team must expand to support new demands. Hiring can be an exciting process that adds bright new perspectives to your processes and bolsters your company’s integrity. However, uninformed hiring choices can have a negative impact on your team. So, deciding who to trust with the growth of your organization is crucial.

Pre-employment background checks offer valuable information that allows you to make more knowledgeable choices about your future employees. If your business has a minimal background screening process or no screening process at all, you should consider formalizing your background check policies before you make your next hiring decision. An official background check process makes hiring more streamlined and offers transparency and honesty to applicants.

Follow this step-by-step guide to create a reliable background check process for your company.

Step 1: Take inventory of your needs

Before you can choose a background check company or move forward with specific screening policies, you must decide what you want to get out of a background check process. First, identify reasons why you should screen applicants for various positions. Different jobs may require different levels of restriction and security. You can then tailor your background check policies to your company’s different job descriptions.

Also, you should decide early on how much you are able to budget for background checks. It’s less costly to pay for diligent background checks than to deal with potential increased liability of not screening.

Step 2: Understand and comply with background check laws

Job applicants have distinct rights during the background process. While a background check company will help you comply with laws, it is important for you to understand the rights and privacy privileges of your applicants.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the primary regulator of how reports are used by employers. The FCRA ensures that applicants are aware you are screening them and places responsibilities on the employer to protect the privacy of applicants.

Step 3: Clarify your policies

Once you recognize your company’s background check needs, team up with your legal counsel to mockup an applicant screening policy. That policy should inform applicants about which background check company is running the checks, what types of screenings will be run, how the information in their report will affect decisions and how disputes will be handled. It is also a good practice to offer applicants with an explanation of which offenses will bar them from certain positions.

Step 4: Find a company that fits your needs

When choosing a company to run background checks for you, consider the role you want the company to play in your hiring process. Full-service background check companies can be reliable partners throughout hiring that will help you interpret results and ensure you make informed decisions. Online background check services offer quick results but are less hands-on and may not be FCRA compliant.

No matter what you choose, verify the service you enlist is compliant with FCRA and accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA).

Step 5: Know what to do with information from a report

Based on the background check policy your company created, you will have guidelines on how to respond to certain charges on an applicant’s report. If you decide to remove an applicant from consideration due to information on their report, you are taking adverse action. When taking adverse action, you must notify the applicant of your decision and provide reasoning for it.

If you have any further questions about how to proceed, contact your background check company. Also, you can get in touch with One Source’s Client Relations Ream today.

When You’re Ready to Run a Background Check, Start Here

Everything you need to do before launching the background check process

Whether you are an employer looking into the history of a potential new hire, a volunteer coordinator wanting to verify the background of a volunteer or anyone else who could need a background check, there are a few important things you must do before you receive a report. Once you decide on a background check, follow these simple steps to ensure the check runs smoothly and ethically.

Choose the type of background check

There is a wide variety of common background checks, and each type provides slightly different information to serve a unique purpose. Clarify your purpose for running a background check and choose the type that will best meet your needs.

  • Pre-employment Screening: Employers can run background checks specifically designed to minimize risk for their business. Pre-employment checks can include confirmation of work history, education history, a credit report, criminal records and driving records. In certain situations, a drug screening and a review of an applicant’s social media use can be included.
  • Volunteer Screening: Nonprofits, schools and other organizations that require volunteers can maintain their integrity and keep their communities safe with background checks. Volunteer checks are just as thorough as pre-employment checks, but they are meant to fit the budget and needs of volunteer organizations.
  • Certified Contractors Background Checks: If you are hiring contractors, you can make sure they are screened to the same high standard you require for your staff, while staying compliant with the FCRA. A certified contractor check includes a criminal check, optional drug screening and a check of compliance with One Source Certified Contractor (OSCC) guidelines.

For more comprehensive information, contact One Source Client Relations.

Get authorization from the person being checked

To move forward with a background check, you must receive consent from the person who will be checked. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandates that a Disclosure and Authorization form must be signed before a background check, and if it is not authorized you could face legal consequences. Notify those you intend to background check and explain to them how the results of the check will be used so they can be informed before they sign off.

One Source offers a compliant Disclosure and Authorization form you can download here.

Gather identification information

The insight you need to obtain from the person being reviewed can vary based on the company you are running the check through. For most background check companies, you need to provide a full name and a unique identifying number such as a birthdate, Social Security number or driver’s license number. A background check company will tell you up front if they need any further information.

Once you complete these tasks, you can let a background check company do the rest of the work. Background checks take a few days to complete. To learn more about the background check process or to get started, contact One Source Client Relations.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pre-Employment Background Checks

Finding and hiring the best candidate for a position at any company can be a long and tedious but worthwhile process. No matter how your business chooses to structure its hiring, background checks should be a crucial part of the system. They provide security, mitigate risk and help you choose a candidate with confidence.

We answered a list of the most frequently asked questions about pre-employment background checks, so the next time you’re hiring, you can hit the ground running.

How long does a background check take?

Typically, a background check can take 2 to 4 business days. The exact amount of time until you get a report back can vary if there are unforeseen complications or if additional screenings are requested.

It can take an instant to search internet databases, but to search real-time, original-source records, as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires, it may take longer. One Source delivers 96 percent of background checks in 24-48 hours.

What do I need to run a background check on an applicant?

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you must have a signed release form from every applicant you would like to screen. Your applicants must know you are running a background check and must consent to the screening. You can download a copy of our background check Disclosure and Authorization form here.

What information will I get from a background check?

One Source’s TotalCheck products can provide you a comprehensive and verified report that includes:

  •  Verification of an applicant’s information.
  • A county/statewide criminal history report.
  • A supplemental search of multi-court jurisdictional criminal record databases.
  • A nationwide federal criminal report, cross-referenced with the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ databases.
  • A search of the national sex offender registries.
  • A check of global watchlists.

How do I review the results of a background check?

When an applicant’s background check is complete, you will receive an email with an embedded link to the report. The link is password protected to keep your applicant’s data secure.

Why should I hire a background check company?

A consistent and compliant partnership with a background check company can make the entire hiring process easier. One Source has carefully developed background screening methods to ensure accuracy and save companies time. And if you ever run into a problem with a background check, it is useful to have an expert partner like One Source who can quickly answer your questions. When you hire a background check company, you can maintain clarity, compliance and confidence through the hiring process and get a fantastic new hire to work ASAP.