So do companies really need background checks when they take on new staff or contractors? To answer this question, let’s start off with what background checks really are.
A background screening process can be described as the collection and inspection of public and private records by individuals or companies e.g. HR managers within the company.
Specific examples of a background screening check can include and is not limited to:
- Criminal records E.g. a state based check like a police check NSW or a national check like a national police check.
- Credit history check like a bankruptcy check.
- Employment history verification.
- Education history verification e.g. College Degrees.
- Social media profiles like LinkedIn or in some cases Facebook or Twitter.
- Driving record check (limited to countries).
A Background check like an online police check is generally conducted to try and protect a company or some other workplace from potential risks that may arise from persons within the organisation, and in particular new hires that may be joining for the very first time.
In the prospects of trying to ensure that a workplace is hiring the right candidate for the job, a background and / or police check should ideally take place before the employment is finalised.
Background screening can be considered an imperative pre-employment step before making the concrete hiring decision that will be cemented in the form of a final offer to join the workplace and then a contract.
Majority of the time, workplaces would assume that the job applicants on their CV or in person are telling the truth when applying for the job on offer.
It can be proven from research that most of the time, new job applicants are honest in their resume or CV however, there are a number of cases (around 40%) where they can hide the truth from the employer or to some degree mistate items on their resume or CV that make it factually incorrect.
So what exactly is a Background Check or Screening process?
Another good question. It may be a number of items however it is generally considered to be a thorough review of a job applicant or current employee’s educational records, employment records and most common of all a criminal record check.
This is in particular if the new hire will have contact with vulnerable people like children or the elderly.
A background screening check may include and is not limited to: Education credentials check, employment verification check, credit history like a bankruptcy check, criminal record check, license record check, etc.
Agencies that carry out background checks normally do them on a national scale. For example, in Australia a police check Victoria (which is a state based check) is now the same as a national police check.
Furthermore, Australia has made background checks more efficient where authorised firms now enable the community to get a police check online.
So what is the value behind a background screening check?
1. They highlight criminal history records in accordance with spent convictions legislation
Knowledge of a potential job applicant’s criminal record can help influence HR teams and make a final decision on the suitability of the applicant in the particular position they may be assigned.
For example, certain industries like aged care providers mandate the use of police checks before workers can be placed in roles where they have unsupervised access to vulnerable persons (e.g. the elderly).
2. Background checks can help avoid liability
A potential new recruit may possibly be unqualified for the job, or may have some personality trait or previous experiences that causes issues for the business down the track.
Negligent hiring may be proven in court if it can be established that the company failed to carry out necessary background checks.
3. Ensure the safety and wellbeing of the workplace
Most employers are well aware that the safety of the workplace is one of the top priorities and if it is compromised then there is a possibility that the company or employer will be held accountable for such actions.
Cutting down to the bottom line
With the above items put into perspective, employers and HR managers should be thorough in their employment screening and verification process.
It is proven that such a thorough process can only be possible with a comprehensive screening and background check on each new employee. So take the wise step and go a little further by running background checks.