Too many companies make the mistake of only conducting background checks of their new hires. Often times, an employee is arrested, charged and prosecuted for a crime and the employer may never know. Suppose one of your truck drivers is arrested over the weekend for drunk driving, which – in many states – their license is automatically and immediately suspended. They come to work on Monday and start driving a company knowing their license has been suspended; yet, neglects to tell their employer. Suppose a bank employee is arrested, charged and prosecuted for identity theft and credit card fraud; yet, neglects to tell their employer all the while they are accessing personal financial data. These are only a couple of examples of what could happen and the employer may never know.
Here are five reasons why employers should continue to check their employees’ backgrounds regularly.
Employers often think that only doing one background check on each of their employees is enough. The check comes as part of the hiring process, and once the employee passes the check, they are cleared for the duration of their employment. However, this is flawed thinking . It doesn’t take into account the fact that crimes are committed every day. Just because an employee has a clean record when he or she is hired, that doesn’t mean that the person will always be clean. Criminal background checks are a snapshot of a person’s past at one point in time; they do not reflect what will happen in the future. And, employees are not always forthcoming, nor truthful, with telling their employer about one’s recent criminal conduct.
With that in mind, every employer should make a point of expanding their background check policies to include repeat screenings. Perhaps each employee will be required to submit to a check every three to five years, or maybe different workers will be randomly selected every six months for an updated background check. Whatever the policy, make it consistent and ensure disclosure to the employee what the policy states. Regardless of how you implement such a policy, here is why you should.
- It Protects Your Business from Liability – Due Diligence Mitigates Liability
One of the primary reasons that employers run background checks in the first place is that doing so protects them from liability. As previously stated, if a company hires a person with two drunk driving convictions to a position that involves driving, and that employee then causes a lethal accident while on the job, the employer can be held legally responsible for the incident. “We didn’t know about it,” is never a valid excuse. Ongoing background checks allow employers to know as much as possible about their workers.
The above scenario doesn’t change if the driver had a clean record when he was hiring, and received his DUI charges afterwards. By running regular background checks on employees every few years, a company has provided itself with an ongoing guard against such liability.
- It Costs a Fraction of What a Potential Legal Fallout Would
Many businesses opt not to perform regular repeat background checks of their employees simply because they don’t want to foot the bill. Indeed, having 50 different employees submit to a new background check every year adds up financially.
But let’s revisit the DUI car accident scenario. If something like that happens to your company, you are going to face legal costs far outweighing the price of a few background checks. Lawsuits from families of the deceased, government fines for failing to do your due diligence as an employer, lost business from all of the bad PR: these are just a few of the expenses you will have to face if an employee you didn’t background check hurts someone or causes excessive damage.
- Honor Systems Often Don’t Work
In most businesses where continuous background check policies are not in place, the employer instead relies on an honor system. Basically, there will be a stipulation in the employee contract that requires workers to report any criminal charges or convictions to their employer. That way, the employer will be kept aware of any unfolding criminal charges against their staff members, and will be able to take appropriate action if an employee’s criminal activity renders them unfit to perform their job.
Unfortunately, these honor systems often don’t work because there’s no way to enforce them. Employees will keep quiet about criminal charges or convictions because they don’t want to lose their job on top of facing legal ramifications. As a result, crimes committed by employees often go overlooked. Having a policy for repeat background screenings in place, especially one with randomly required checks, helps to hold employees more accountable to the honor system model.
Essentially, an employee is convicted of a crime and doesn’t want to disclose it to her employer because she is afraid of losing her job. In a company where there is just an honor system in place, she might keep quiet because the chances that her employer will find out about the crime aren’t that high. In a company where repeat background checks are required of all workers, she will think much more seriously about disclosing her criminal activity. She knows that her employer will eventually find out anyway, and figures she has a better chance of keeping her job if she is honest and forthcoming.
- Changes in Background Check Policies Should Be Applied Across the Board
Company policies change all the time, and that fluidity certainly applies to hiring standards and background check guidelines. Perhaps your business recently switched from state background checks to nationwide checks, or maybe you branched out from criminal screenings to include educational verifications. With such shifts in your policies, older employees should not simply be grandfathered in while new hires are forced to go through a much broader array of background checks.
If you have only been running state or county criminal checks for years, there’s a chance you missed something in the record of a longtime employee. Running background checks every year or two allows your business to update individual employee background checks as you update your background check policies—an important step to take.
- Ongoing Monitoring is Easy
Running a new background check every few years for every one of your employees sounds like a complicated and daunting process, but it doesn’t have to be. On the contrary, many background screening firms offer simple and user-friendly ways to keep up with developments in criminal records. eGuarded.com offers a criminal monitoring subscription service that checks monthly for new records logged under a specific name.
While it may seem at first like a single background check will do for every person you hire, the truth is that criminal history is ever evolving. Every business needs to protect itself and its customers by making sure that employees are safe and trustworthy. One big component to that is keeping tabs on employees’ criminal history, and by implementing a policy that calls for continuous updates on background check information, your business will be able to do just that.