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Guidelines and Sample Policies by
Government and Industry Sources

Employment Background Check Guidelines and Sample Policies
The following guidelines and sample policies may be of interest to employers seeking guidance about employment background check screening.
General Guidelines and Sample Policies

Small Business Owner Background Check Guide

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
PRC Small Business Guide
Topics Covered Include:
  • Background Check Primer: Know the Terminology
  • Employment Background Checks and Federal Law, the FCRA
  • What Can an Employer Find Out? What Is Off Limits?
  • Should I Hire an Outside Screening Company?
  • Background Checks: Not Just for Applicants
  • The Employer’s Obligations under the FCRA
  • Proper Disposal of Employment Reports
  • Workplace Investigations: New Rules for Employers
  • Special Rules for California Employers
  • Employer Checklist and Tips

NAPBS Offers Best Practices to Benefit Employers and Job Seekers

NAPBS, National Association of Professional Background Screeners
NAPBS Offers Tips for Screening Job Candidates
Best Practices:
  • Conduct a comprehensive background search. Relying on partial or out of date information can be as risky as not conducting a background check at all.
  • Talk with your background screening provider about ways to improve your process to save money and time.
  • Make sure that all background screening practices meet federal, state and local regulations as well as industry requirements. Be mindful of the new Equal Employment Opportunity Commission criminal guidelines and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
  • Consider job responsibilities when screening candidates. Go beyond basic background information and assess job relatedness and business necessity.
  • Implement consistent targeted screening for each job position.

SHRM Sample Background Check Policies

SHRM Templates & Samples
SHRM.org (membership login required)
Sample Background Check Policies Include:
  • Background Check Policy and Procedure
  • Criminal History Check Policy and Procedure
  • Credit Check Policy
  • Motor Vehicle Driving Record Check Policy

ASIS Preemployment Background Screening Guideline

ASIS International
ASIS Guideline
(ASIS Members are entitled to a free download. Nonmembers may purchase.)
About the Guideline:
  • The guideline presents practical information concerning the value of preemployment background screening, the importance of the application form, important legal issues and considerations such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act, privacy issues, state laws, rules and regulations, the types of information to utilize in verifying the key elements, and the use of credit reporting agencies.

Laws and Regulations

Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know

EEOC & FTC: Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know
Topics Covered Include:
  • Avoid discrimination
  • Asking about medical/genetic information
  • Notification and written approval requirements
  • Documentation requirements before ordering a background report
  • Steps to be followed when taking adverse action
  • Properly disposing of consumer report information

Background Check Laws & Regulations

A Matter of Fact
Background Check Laws & Regulations For Private Employers
Sections Include:
  • FCRA/FACTA - Fair Credit Reporting Act
  • EEOC Guidance On Use Of Criminal Records
  • Additional Federal Background Check Related Laws and Regulations
  • State and Local Background Check Laws and Regulations

FCRA Background Check Requirements for Employers

A Matter of Fact
FCRA Background Check Requirements for Employers
A combined summary of employer requirements for the following:
  • FCRA Requirements for Consumer Reports
  • FCRA Requirements for Investigative Consumer Reports

California Background Check Law and FCRA Employer Requirements

A Matter of Fact
California Background Check Law and FCRA
Purpose of the Article:
  • California Background Checks require special attention. California law places greater restrictions on information than does federal law. The Article is a summary of the combined California employer requirements under the FCRA Requirements for Consumer Reports, the FCRA Requirements for Investigative Consumer Reports, and the CA Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (CA ICRA) Requirements for Investigative Consumer Reports.

What Employers Must Know About The Fair Credit Reporting Act

SHRM Legal Report
SHRM.org (membership login required)
Topics Covered:
  • When Does the FCRA Apply to an Employer?
  • What Information Must Be Excluded from a Report?
  • When May an Employer Obtain A Report Under the FCRA?
  • What Are the FCRA’s Procedural Requirements?
    • Notice and Disclosure
    • Written Consent From Applicant or Employee
    • Certification of Compliance
  • What Should the Employer Expect From the Consumer Reporting Agency?
  • What Procedural Requirements Must an Employer Follow Before Taking Adverse Action?
  • Are There Exceptions to The FCRA’s Procedural Requirements?
  • What Are the Penalties For Violating the FCRA?

Background Checks: Four Steps to Basic Compliance in a MultiState Environment

SHRM Legal Report
SHRM.org (membership login required)
Purpose of the Article:
  • This article is designed to aid multistate employers who wish to comply with the most restrictive state laws on a uniform, nationwide basis.

Specific Search Guidelines

Criminal Background Checks: A Best Practices Guide For Employers

NELP, National Employment Law Project
Points of Interest Regarding the Criminal History Check Component of an Employment Background Check:
  • Background checks cost money and can be inaccurate. Carefully survey positions to determine background check requirements.
  • Do not inquire into criminal history on the initial application, delay the inquiry until the final stages.
  • Include a notice that a conviction is not an automatic bar to employment.
  • Avoid violating federal law - do not ask about or consider arrest records.
  • Comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act requirements, including: provide notice and obtain worker consent, give the applicant a copy of the background report prior to any rejection, and allow the applicant to correct information.
  • Comply with federal law by only considering convictions that are both job-related and recent. Consider the circumstances surrounding the offense and any evidence of rehabilitation.
  • Give the applicant written notice of potentially disqualifying conviction(s) and allow the applicant to provide information regarding the offense(s), including evidence of rehabilitation.

Verifications Best Practices: What Clients Need to Know for Successful Outsourced Verifications

NAPBS, National Association of Professional Background Screeners
General Guidelines for Successful Verifications:
  • Provide as much information as possible with your search request.
  • Have a signed consent form from the applicant.
  • Request the level of verification that best fits your needs.
  • Be patient.

Medicaid Sanctions, OIG Excluded Parties List

OIG, Office of Inspector General
Updated Special Advisory Bulletin on the Effect of Exclusion from Participation in Federal Health Care Programs
Provides guidance on the scope and frequency of screening employees and contractors to determine whether they are excluded persons.

Poyner Spruill LLP
Updated OIG Exclusion Guidance Spells Out Recommended Employee Screening Procedures
This Summary of the Updated OIG Exclusion Guidance outlines recommended employee screening procedures including:
  • Screen all new employees, volunteers, visiting staff and contracted employees
  • Screen existing employees, volunteers, visiting staff and contracted employees monthly
  • Draft clear screening policies and educate management on those policies

Recidivism (Repetition of Criminal Behavior)

Criminal Background Policy Checkup

HR Magazine
SHRM.org (membership login required)
Topics Covered:
  • EEOC Enforcement Framework
  • The Need to Avoid Risky Hires
  • The Predictive Value of Recidivism Studies
  • Finding the Right Balance

Second Chances: Employing Convicted Felons

HR Magazine
SHRM.org (membership login required)
Topics Covered:
  • A Road to Freedom
  • Lots of Rules, Oversight
  • Strict Limits
  • Guidance for Work-Release Programs

Recidivism Data Collection, Surveys and Publications

Bureau of Justice Statistics
  • Summary findings
  • Data Collections & Surveys
  • Publications

2011 Adult Institutions Outcome Evaluation Report

California Department of Corrections And Rehabilitation
PDF File
Topics Include:
  • Overall California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Adult Recidivism Rate
  • Time to Return
  • Recidivism Rate by Demographics

State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons

The Pew Center on the States
Click for study information

Redemption in the Presence of Widespread Criminal Background Checks

Alfred Blumstein and Kiminori Nakamura
Click for study information

The Risk of Offending: When do Ex-Offenders Become Like Non-Offenders?

Keith Soothill & Brian Francis
Click for study information

Enduring Risk? Old Criminal Records and Short-Term Predictions of Criminal Involvement

Megan C. Kurlychek, Robert Brame and Shawn D. Bushway
Click for study information

Scarlet Letters and Recidivism: Does An Old Criminal Record Predict Future Offending?

Megan C. Kurlychek, Robert Brame and Shawn D. Bushway
Click for study information

What Next

Background Check Start-Up Kit

A Matter of Fact
Background Check Start-Up Kit.
The Background Check Start-Up Kit provides a step-by-step process for getting started with employment background checks. Sample forms are provided.

Commonsense Actions Can Limit Negligent Hiring Claims

Personnel Policy Service, Inc.
Commonsense Actions (login required)
Points of Interest:
  • The best way to limit negligent hiring claims is to follow commonsense procedures to get as much information from the candidate as you can and then to verify the information before offering a position.
  • Educate your interviewers. Every interviewer should be familiar with your hiring policy and know what types of background checks are required.
  • Have each applicant fill out an application form, which you carefully review. Pay particular attention to gaps in employment and inconsistencies. Require references.
  • Question the candidate about any gaps in work history. Make sure you have an accurate timeline of past employment dates and know what happened during any periods of unemployment.
  • Check references. At a minimum, confirm the applicant’s dates of employment and positions. Try to get substantive information about past performance and disciplinary records.
  • Ask about criminal convictions. Remember, however, that asking about arrest information (as opposed to convictions) could violate state discrimination laws.
  • Perform background checks appropriate to the position being sought. For example, consider credit checks on candidates who will handle money, and review the motor vehicle records of potential drivers.
  • Document the steps you take to investigate the candidate.

Guide to Preventing Workplace Fraud: Taking Action to Reduce Business Crime Exposure

Chubb Group of Insurance Companies
Points of Interest:
  • Workplace fraud is a common, everyday occurrence. Every business -- large or small -- is vulnerable to these crimes.
  • Workplace fraud can have a substantial impact on a business’s "bottom line" and even on its continued survival and success.
  • Although it is not possible to completely eliminate fraud, it is possible to reduce risk through effective measures. Proactive fraud risk management makes good business sense.
  • Background screening of potential employees should involve criminal history checks, credit reports, verification of employment and education, and drug testing.

Additional Resources

A Matter of Fact is not a law firm and cannot provide legal advice. The information and forms on this site are for educational purposes only and cannot be relied upon as legal advice. It is important that employers work with counsel to develop an employment screening program specific to their needs. Employers should obtain legal advice concerning their legal responsibilities, and to ensure that background check documents, policies and procedures are in compliance with applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations. For more see Legal Disclaimer.

A Matter of Fact has no control over the content of other web sites and is not responsible for their content.

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