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Do Small Businesses Need to Screen Employees?

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

May 18 2020

2020 is a new year and the beginning of a brand-new decade. Now is a great time to stop and evaluate various aspects of your small business, including your employment screening program. Background screening is essential in ensuring your company is staffed with qualified talent who will help your business excel. It also ensures that your business is protected from the risk that comes with hiring on new people. 

The way you grow your business now sets the course for the next decade. To determine if your screening program meets your growing business’s hiring needs, check out the guide below and see which screening scenario applies to your SMB.

I don’t have a screening program.

You should know you’re in the extreme minority. 3 out of every 4 businesses use a screening program of some sort before bringing on new hires. No matter your size or industry, pre-employment background checks are now a normal and essential part of doing business. That’s because screening protects your business from unnecessary risk. 

If you still aren’t screening, it’s time to get some solidified processes and procedures in place. Candidates may perform exceptionally well in interviews, only to disappoint in their day-to-day duties. Screening not only protects your staff, customers, and property, it also helps verify that your candidates have the skills and experience they claim to. 

I run a criminal background check. Isn’t that enough?

Criminal history searches are only one facet of a comprehensive screening program. There are many pieces of information that can be useful in a hiring decision that have nothing to do with a candidate’s criminal record. 

Background screening can verify things such as previous employment, including former roles and their day-to-day duties. Candidates often try to fudge the truth on resumes; verifying previous experience and education prevents employers from falling for half-truths and outright lies. An unqualified candidate can negatively impact your business in a variety of ways and are often riskier hires than those with criminal records. 

A professional screening provider, depending on the package chosen, confirms candidates’ employment and education history, verifies any professional licenses they may hold, conducts pre-employment drug testing, and more; all of which can help you prevent a costly bad hire.

I screen! Most of the time.

Consistency is a key component of a comprehensive and compliant screening program. It’s important to screen all employees across the board, whether they’re full-time, temporary, or contract workers. Several hiring lawsuits in the last decade resulted from inconsistent screening procedures. In order to avoid facing litigation or a negligent hiring decision, companies should establish a basic screening criterion that is applied to all employees equally. 

Review your screening requirements on a position-specific basis and apply them to all candidates equally. Don’t ask some candidates to complete a drug test and hire others without one; that’s an excellent way to get your business in trouble for discriminatory hiring practices. If you ask one candidate for information, ask the same from all other candidates. Otherwise you could be violating federal, state, and local screening laws. 

What’s the EEOC? Why does it apply to me? 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal organization responsible for enforcing laws that prevent discriminatory hiring practices. They provide the guidelines that all background screening providers and employers must follow. It’s illegal to discriminate against job applicants and employees based on sex, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, disability or genetic information. 

Most employers with 15 employees or more must abide by EEOC guidelines. These laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring and pre-employment screening.

To remain in compliance with the EEOC guidance and avoid litigation, companies that use criminal history in employment decisions should consider the age of a candidate’s crime, actions taken since the crime occurred, and the nature of the crime as it relates to the position sought. A recent embezzlement charge may disqualify someone from a position as a finance manager, but a decade old drug-related misdemeanor is not always grounds to deny someone employment. 

Talk openly with your candidate about their criminal record and what they’ve done since. Most candidates with criminal pasts are willing and eager to answer any questions or concerns you might have. 

Upgrade Your Screening Program

InfoMart offers a full line of services that ensure the safest and most productive workplace possible. With over 30 years of screening experience and a client base spanning across industries, InfoMart has what it takes to build a screening program that meets the needs of your growing business. Our portal, designed specifically for small or medium-sized businesses, is here to help.

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record. To learn more about Tammy, visit www.tammycohen.com.

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit www.InfoMart-USA.com, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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