Most employees expect to be screened during the hiring process. It may be a surprise to find that employers do have the right to run a background check post-hire. In both cases, the employee must have given written consent to be screened and the employer must follow adverse action procedures. The reasons for running a background check after hiring vary depending on industry, promotions or other events that may trigger an employer to screen again.
Can an Employer Run a Background Check after Hiring?
Post-Hire Background Checks
Which Industries Commonly Run Post-Hire Background Checks?
Within certain industries, employers will commonly run background checks after hiring to manage risk to their customers, their business and other employees. Although a teacher will have had pre-employment screening, as an example, there may be unscrupulous activities that have occurred in the time since. In order to protect a vulnerable population, such as children, post-hire background checks are recommended. Background checks after hiring are also recommended or required in industries where there is a potential for fraud or those which are heavily regulated.
What Reasons Do Employers Need to Run Background Checks after Hiring?
Consider the following example. An M.I.T. dean of admissions had to retire from her job of 28 years because she "misrepresented" her education and degrees when she applied originally. Her original job, however, didn't require a college degree. She kept getting promoted and no one verified her credentials. This is an old story but not uncommon. A promotion is one very important reason for employers to run a post-hire background check.
If an employee is involved in a workplace accident or their job performance is faltering, an employer may choose to perform a drug test or criminal background check. Another reason could be job changes, such as job responsibilities that require more security or driving company vehicles. There may be a need for background checks that weren't run prior to being hired and now need to be included as they relate to the employee's job.
How Can an Employer Get Consent to Run Background Checks after Hiring?
As a professional background screening company, VeriFirst is asked this question with regularity. We work with our clients to maintain FCRA compliance which includes following the rules around consent and consumer rights. Just as with pre-employment background checks, employers must obtain employee consent prior to screening. Here are our recommendations for obtaining authorization and consent to a background check:
A rolling background check policy: Often called "rolling", "periodic" or "continuous" background checks, your HR department can implement a policy that informs employees of a company policy to screen employees with regularity after hiring.
Obtaining consent during hiring: If an employee signed a background check consent form (one that is separate and clearly states how it will be used) during the hiring process, the language is such that consent is indefinite. The challenge is if the employer is running new or different screens than what was stated in the original consent form. The employee should still be notified if the employer is running a new background check and a new consent form is advisable.
An HR policy around accidents, job performance and promotions: Again, if your human resources department will be screening employees after workplace accidents, for failing job performance or before promotions, it's best to put this policy in writing and make sure all employees know what to expect.
Download our library of Employer Background Check Compliance Documents, including:
- Sample Background Check Policy
- Sample Adverse Action Notices and an editable
- Background Check Consent Form (editable template)
- and more ....
See also: Background Screening Compliance for Employers