Background Checks for Current Employees

April 4, 2017

When conducting background checks on current employees, especially those who are under consideration for promotion, here are some items to consider:

  1. Under federal law in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the background authorization document signed by the employee when first hired is valid for the person’s entire tenure of employment. For example, let’s say your employee drives a company vehicle and you checked the status of the driving record before making the job offer. Now the person has been working for a year and you want to re-check the license status. You can do it without getting another document signed. However, some employers prefer to inform the applicant that the check will be done and ask for any disclosure of details that could be revealed. Also, they may choose to provide another disclosure and ask for another authorization to be signed. All of this is based on the employer’s own procedure and, possibly, advice from legal counsel. Please note that if the employee leaves for any reason and is then rehired, the disclosure and authorization process must be redone.

  2. When the employee is being promoted to a position requiring significant financial responsibility, employers may choose to order an employment credit report (if this is permitted by local law). As in 1. above, the original authorization would still be valid. However, many employers choose speak with the employee and provide a new disclosure form and a new authorization form to sign since the credit bureau will inform the employee that the report has been requested, and this could be an unwelcomed surprise for some people. So, in an effort to avoid any conflicts, employers will typically provide a new disclosure and ask for a new authorization.

  3. When an employer gets an anonymous tip from a worker or a member of the public that indicates an employee is in trouble with the law, you may decide to check the employee’s criminal record.  It could be a coworker who claims to know the person was arrested recently for assault or selling drugs. In such a case, you can simply order the criminal record check. However, some employers may choose to speak with the ‘accused’ employee first before making any determinations, such as ordering the criminal record. Criminal record re-checks for this purpose are typically very sensitive and delicate situations.

Contributed by Steven J. Austin of LABORCHEX.

Through the Michigan Chamber partnership with LABORCHEX, members get discounted pricing to employment background screening services. To learn more, please email Kym Lewis or call him at 1-800-880-0366.