The Fair Credit Reporting Act—FCRA, protects the privacy, accuracy, and fairness of information shared by employers or job applicants. This Act—FCRA is considered the standard guide for employment background checks in California.
Background checks in California, and the world over, play a vital role in the hiring process. Unfortunately, the rules surrounding employment back checks are difficult for a layperson. Fortunately, an employment lawyer can help you understand how back checks work.
Pre-employment Background Checks
A pre-employment background check is conducted on job applicants to find out whether they’re who they claim to be. The applicant can file a dispute if the background check reveals inaccurate or incomplete information.
California pre-employment background checks should be conducted as per the FCRA guidelines. The federal FCRA guidelines apply even for background checks prepared by third-party providers.
What Do Employment Background Checks Reveal?
California employers can conduct back checks on prospective employees to find out more about a candidate. Standard back checks typically relate to criminal history, prior employment records, education achievements, and other credentials.
1. Criminal Records
For most jobs, employers do not need to know the criminal history of a job applicant. However, some jobs require a back check on an applicant’s criminal record. A criminal record reveals the following information:
- The criminal offense committed;
- Date of filing the crime;
- Disposition of the trial, including the date;
- The seriousness of the offense;
- The punishment awarded, and more.
2. Employment History Verification
Every employer wants to hire a reliable and competent workforce. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of a prospective employee can help you avoid incompetent workers.
A background check can be used to verify the skills, qualifications, and competence of a job applicant. Pre-employment checks provide an easy way of ensuring that prospective workers are trustworthy, in addition to preventing potential negligent claims resulting from a poor hiring process.
3. Education Verification
Most job openings require the right candidate to possess specific skills and qualifications. For instance, the education qualifications for a job opening may be a certificate, degree, or other educational qualifications.
In this era of forgery and technology, verifying the education records of a job applicant shouldn’t be overlooked. Some people claim to have degrees even when they haven’t completed the learning process. Others purchase fake degrees online from unscrupulous vendors. An educational backcheck can help verify the institution attended, the dates, and the authenticity of the degrees or certificates earned.
4. Credentials Verification
Some jobs require candidates with specific professional credentials or licenses, and this is where a California background check comes in. You can request this type of verification from job applicants to verify that they possess the requisite qualifications for the job and help the company onboard competent staffing.
How to Obtain an Employment Background Check in California
The California Department of Justice maintains a repository for all criminal records in the state. That said, an employer or hiring company must seek the approval of the DOJ before conducting a back check on a prospective employee.
Once approval is granted, you must obtain written consent from a job applicant using a specific form prepared by the Department of Justice. The applicant will have their fingerprints scanned by a Live Scan operator, and the employer will be required to pay $32 for this service. The cost doesn’t include the rolling fees charged by the Live Scan operator.
Potential Red Flags on California Background Checks
The information contained in the background check may result in disqualification. The following are some of the reasons why a background check may lead to disqualification:
1. Failing a Pre-Employment Drug Screen
Some jobs require prospective candidates to undergo and pass pre-employment drug screens as a precondition. The employer can request such tests to enhance workplace safety.
If you fail a pre-employment drug test, the prospective employer will likely withdraw the conditional employment offer.
2. Misrepresenting Past Employment Information
Lying about your employment history can lead to disqualification. When an employer discovers that you lied about your employment history, they’ll no longer trust you.
Never exaggerate your experience by claiming to have held positions that attract more responsibility. Fudging your employment dates and hiding gaps is also considered a misrepresentation of facts. Always remember that education verification checks can spot such lies.
3. Disqualifying Criminal Convictions
Criminal convictions are not necessarily disqualifying; that’s why many people with criminal records can find employment. However, some types of convictions can result in disqualification, especially when they directly relate to the open position. For instance, you may be disqualified from a cashier job if you have a financial crime history.
Pre-employment background checks help prospective employers learn more about a job applicant. However, such checks shouldn’t be used to discriminate against qualified job applicants unfairly.