Hiring new employees is a critically important function in any business. Every hiring decision represents a major investment that employers must make with limited information. Checking criminal history is just a small part of the background check process, which may also include verifying education, prior employment and other reference information.
At CARCO, we know that it is more important than ever to comply with the recommendations of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when using criminal records in the hiring process. We’ve put together a helpful “cheat sheet” on 15 Best Practice Standards for our HR partners to use to properly weigh adverse personal history to find those applicants who will contribute most to the productivity of their organizations.
1. CONSIDER ONLY CONVICTIONS AND PENDING PROSECUTIONS
The fact that someone has been charged with a crime should not disqualify them for a job if they were not convicted. If a person is being prosecuted for an offense that is relevant to a job for which they have applied, an employer may consider it.
2. CONSIDER ONLY CONVICTIONS THAT ARE RELEVANT TO THE JOB IN QUESTION
A person who has committed an illegal act in the past may be more likely than the average person to commit a similar act in the future, but they are no more likely to commit other offenses. A person who has been convicted of DUI may put the public at risk in a job that involves driving, but not in other jobs.
3. CONSIDER ONLY CONVICTIONS RECENT ENOUGH TO INDICATE SIGNIFICANT RISK
The risk that someone who has been convicted of a crime will commit another offense decreases over time. Employers should consider the available evidence on recidivism rates before rejecting an applicant.
4. DO NOT ASK ABOUT CRIMINAL RECORDS ON EMPLOYMENT APPLICATIONS
Delaying learning about an applicant’s criminal record until the interview or later enables the employer to make more informed hiring decisions.
5. USE A QUALIFIED CRA TO CONDUCT CRIMINAL RECORD CHECKS
All consumer reporting agencies are not equal. Employers should consider the quality of CRAs’ procedures and results and not decide which one to use based solely upon cost.
6. CRAs SHOULD REPORT ONLY CONVICTIONS THAT ARE RELEVANT AND RECENT
Employers should determine in advance the convictions that it considers relevant for specific jobs and the time period during which they are relevant. These determinations should be provided to the CRA with instruction to report only convictions that meet these criteria.
7. REPORT CONVICTIONS ONLY WHEN FULL NAME AND ONE OTHER IDENTIFIER MATCH
In a country of over 300 million people, many people have the same first and last name. A conviction should only be reported to an employer when the full name (including middle name where available) and at least one other identified match.
8. CONFIRM ALL INFORMATION FROM ONLINE DATABASES WITH ORIGINAL SOURCE
Online databases are not always accurate or up to date. All information from such databases should be confirmed with the original source.
9. GET CURRENT DISPOSITION OF ALL RELEVANT INFORMATION
All information obtained from any source should be updated to ensure that it is current.
10. PROVIDE THE APPLICANT THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHALLENGE THE CRA’S REPORT
Whether or not required to do so by FCRA, employers should provide applicants with a prompt and convenient method of challenging information in the CRA’s report.
11. ALL CHARGES RELATED TO A SINGLE INCIDENT SHOULD BE REPORTED AS A SINGLE ENTRY
Reporting information relating to a single incident in different sections of a report can create the impression that multiple incidents took place. All information related to a single incident should be reported in a single entry.
12. CONSIDER EVIDENCE OF REHABILITATION
People change over time. Some people with criminal convictions change their lives and become good citizens who can be good employees. Applicants with relevant convictions recent enough to be of concern should not automatically be rejected. Instead, he or she should be given the opportunity to present evidence of rehabilitation which the employer should carefully consider before making a decision.
13. MINIMIZE CONFLICT OF INTEREST BY DECISION MAKERS
Employees making hiring decisions regarding applicants with criminal records are in a difficult position. If the company hires an applicant with a record who later commits another offense, the employee who hired them may be blamed. Hiring decisions should be made by an employee (or employees) who are in the best position to make an objective decision.
14. TRAIN HUMAN RESOURCES STAFF
Hiring decisions regarding applicants with criminal records require an understanding of the practical and legal steps an employer should take to comply with federal and state law on background checks and to comply with federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws, without exposing the employer to unreasonable risks. Human resources employees should be thoroughly trained on these subjects.
15. HAVE A DIVERSITY PROGRAM
One of the benefits of making sound decisions regarding applicants with criminal records is a more diverse workforce. Having a diversity program helps an employer determine how well it is making such decisions.
To view CARCO’s complete White Paper on Best Practice Standards: The Proper Use of Criminal Records in Hiring, click here.