A company is built on its workforce. If the employees of a firm are trustworthy, qualified, and competent, the business can meet its goals and grow. Unfortunately, getting such a team is not always a walk in the park. Recent surveys show that more than 50 percent of job applicants lied on their resumes about key issues like roles, skills, education, and work experience.
While these deceptions may be minor, they can also be significant enough to present a company risk. Most employers mitigate these risks by running a background check before hiring job applicants. But did you know you need a pre-employment background check authorization form from a prospective employee to run a background check on them? Let’s take a closer look.
What Is a Pre-Employment Background Check?
A pre-employment background check is a review of a job applicant’s private and public records. It takes a closer look at their employment history, credit history, criminal history, medical and driving records, and work authorization. Essentially, these checks are performed before a job offer is made to ensure that a potential employee is competent and is who they say they are.
There are different types of pre-employment background checks. According to data, 67 percent of background checks are for identity proposes, 72 percent for employment history, and 84 percent for criminal history. Although not every company’s hiring process includes this step, it is pretty common, especially in jobs involving children, sensitive information, finances, or property.
What Is a Pre-Employment Background Check Authorization Form?
A pre-employment background check authorization form is a legal document that gives a requesting third party permission to run a background check on the releasor (the person signing the form). The requesting third party, or releasee, could be a landlord, potential employer, loaner, etc. The form represents the releasor’s consent for the releasee to look into the former’s criminal background.
Before a potential employer runs a background check or a prospective hire, they must get them to fill out a pre-employment background check authorization form. It is illegal to get such information about another person without their consent, which is given through a signed authorization form. The form should also indicate exactly what kind of check the releasee plans to conduct on the releasor.
Per the FCRA, employers must notify job applicants in writing that they will perform a background check for hiring purposes. This disclosure, which should be presented in a stand-alone document, should be clear and conspicuous. Other important disclosures include the following:
- Copy Requirement – State law in Oklahoma, Minnesota, and California mandate that a releasor receives a free copy of their background check.
- California – All releasors living or employed in this state are entitled to receive Civil Code 1786.22.
- New York – All releasors living or employed in this state must receive Article 23A.
- Fair Housing Act (Summary Guide) – Per federal, all releasors must receive this disclosure.
How to do a Pre-Employment Background Check?
Always begin by getting authorization from a candidate to run a background check on them. This involves asking them to fill out an authorization form containing their full name, social security number, date of birth, driver’s license number, and address. Once you have signed consent from the candidate, your background check options include the following:
- A State-Run Agency: You will need to register and pay a fee to the Secretary of State to run a criminal background check through the state. The fee should be lower than what it would cost to work with a third party, but the process may take longer.
- A Third-Party Agency: If you don’t mind paying between $30 to $90, you can hire a third-party company like HireRight or GoodHire to perform the background check.
You should receive the results of the background check within 3 to 7 days. Check whether the laws in your state require you to share a copy of the results with the candidate and do so if they do.
Running a Pre-Employment Background Check Without Authorization
FCRA guidelines about running and using background checks are very specific. Employers wishing to run a background check on a potential employee must obtain written authorization from them. Running a background check without authorization from the subject of the check is against FCRA laws designed to protect people from illegal checks. If an employer refuses to hire a candidate based on information garnered from an unauthorized background check, they could be held legally liable.
Companies differ, and what is considered a background check red flag will vary from employer to employer and even depending on the industry. However, some common red flags that employers may not turn a blind eye to include:
ᐅ A criminal record, especially in jobs that require contact with children.
ᐅ Discrepancies or gaps in employment history
ᐅ Inconsistent information
ᐅ Short employment durations
ᐅ Several periods of unemployment
ᐅ Missing relevant details about education or experience
ᐅ Worrying comments from previous employers
Most pre-employment background checks are completed within 3 days to 1 week. However, FBI checks can take up to 30 days.
Whether or not you lose a job offer after a background check will depend on the employer and what the check reveals. Most employers can overlook misdemeanors, for example, but a criminal history of embezzlement, sex offenses, violent crimes, or repeat offenses can lock you out of a job. Essentially, any findings that present a risk to the employer could cost you a job offer.
If a previous employer is contacted during an applicant’s background check but fails to respond, the potential employer may require the applicant to provide annual W-2s for every year they were employed. This requirement must be met within 48 hours of the request.
Most employers perform the background check at the end of the hiring process and right before they make an offer. However, because they pay for these checks, employers will usually only perform them on applicants they are interested in hiring.
Employers are tasked with the mandate of protecting the interests of the company, which includes hiring potential workers. A pre-employment background check authorization form is a crucial part of this job. By getting this filled by an applicant, a hiring manager or employer can run a check of the applicant’s employment and criminal history to make sure they are a good hire. This practice – getting authorization – protects the company from the legal consequences of unauthorized background checks. It also improves the hiring quality of a company and helps the firm manage employee risks.