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Background Forms and Processes Housekeeping in the New Year

January 15, 2021

By Susan Chance, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

We are about two weeks into the new year, and if you have not already, this is a great time to do some housekeeping regarding your background forms and processes.

Make sure you have appropriate authorization and disclosure forms for your applicants. It is surprising how many companies are still using outdated forms, and with litigation in the area growing all the time, this should be a priority for all employers who use third parties to run background checks.

The disclosure form is the area that gets employers into trouble. This form must be a stand-a-lone form with no “extraneous” information added. This means the form cannot be a page of the application or a page of the authorization form. Something that seems simple, such as the company logo, can be seen as extraneous. If you use sample forms from your background screening provider, it is imperative that you remove all notes and information listed for the employer before providing the form to your applicant.

Some employers want the option to run checks throughout employment.  This is a good idea, and in some cases required, depending on the industry. If you have not done so recently, review your forms with legal counsel. You may want to add verbiage that allows you to run on-going reports, or make sure that your current verbiage meets current requirements. If your company has locations in multiple states or cities, make sure there are no local prohibitions on using the original form for ongoing checks.

With so many people working remotely, it can be a challenge to get completed forms from applicants and to your background provider in a safe manner. Email is never safe for documents that contain full social security numbers, and you may not want hard copies if you are working remotely. This is a good time to consider applicant entry for background checks. The process is as simple as entering the applicant’s first and last name, and email address or cell phone number, selecting your background package, and submitting. An invitation will go to your applicant and they will complete their information, obtain their summary of rights, and sign their authorization and disclosure forms online. The employer representative will have to approve the authorization and disclosure forms that the applicant would sign online. ASE’s system allows for customized invitations and can include the employer company logo.

If you have not done so, or have not done so lately, make sure you review the Notice to Users of Consumer Reports document. For anyone who uses ASE for background screening, the document is available under the “Docs & Forms” section on the background website. This is important information regarding the employer’s use and requirements when using background checks.

When working in multiple locations, make sure you check for any updates to laws/regulations in all locations for:

  • Ban-the-Box laws
  • Credit Checks
  • Using Criminal Records
  • Pre-Adverse and Adverse Action Additional Requirements

Some locations, such as California and New York City, have strict limitations on using credit checks for employment decisions. Many locations have extra review and documentation requirements when using criminal records for adverse action decisions.

More basic housekeeping would be to review what you include in your background checks. What is it that you want from our background check, and area you getting what you want without duplicating items that are being checked? Make sure you know what is in your checks and make updates if required.

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