Background Checks When You're an HR Department of One

3 min read
Fri, Mar 16, 2018

HR Department of One.png

When your HR department consists of one, you will likely be setting policies and building out the organization from the ground up. These responsibilities include recruiting, interviewing, screening, payroll, benefits, employee relationship management and more. Human resources personnel must also stay abreast of compliance regulations that affect hiring processes and change frequently. Outsourcing some tasks may be necessary to increase your resourcefulness.

Here are best practices for background checks when you're an HR department of one.

Understand Why You're Screening

In small and growing businesses, employees rely on each other and build a level of trust that's different from large organizations. A bad hiring decision can set the business back or steer it in an unintended direction altogether. Every employee must pull their weight internally and recognize the delicate nature of customer service. A negligent hiring claim, where the business is legally responsible for the actions of its employees, could destroy the reputation of or financially drain your company.

Build a Background Screening Policy

When you're establishing your hiring procedures, consider adding in a background screening policy. The policy will document what information you will need to obtain before running a background check, which screens will need to be run for different job types, how to assess the background check report for the hiring decision, what federal regulations must be followed when using the report and where to store the information. This HR Screening Kit is a good place to start with templates and guidance on creating a background check policy.

Get Permission to Run a Background Check

A mistake that some hiring managers make is running a background check on an applicant without their permission. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) dictates that applicants have a right to privacy and must provide written consent and authorization to a background check. The FCRA also specifies that only certain organizations, called consumer reporting agencies (CRA), may report to or obtain information on an individual. Mistakes are often made during the acquisition of identifying information on the applicant which delays the screening and hiring process. Many screening companies are offering online applicant consent portals to speed up the process and ensure accurate reporting.

Free: Online Applicant Consent Portal

Wait... Before You Withdraw that Job Offer

If you've run a background check on an applicant and it reveals a criminal history, don't immediately assume it's okay to withdraw the offer of employment. The information in the background check report could be out of date, inaccurate or misleading. The applicant has a right to review and dispute information reported in a background check according to the FCRA. The employer must also be aware of the potential to discriminate against those with a criminal background. If the criminal record is over ten years old or doesn't apply to the job, for instance, the employer may not be able to deny employment under the rules of the EEOC.

Partner with an Experienced Background Check Provider

Before opting out of background screening or using the internet to search, do some due diligence on a professional and experienced background check provider. Not only will you build a safe workplace with the right employees, a good background check partner will help guide your hiring process to reduce turnaround time and cost. A trusted screening company will understand compliance challenges and follow the rules set by the FCRA. While the partner will not be able to remove all of the responsibilities of an HR department of one, they will be able to help alleviate some of the stress.

See How VeriFirst Performs  Background Checks and Drug Screening

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