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The Legalities of Conducting Background Checks on Employees

What Is A Background Check and Why Is It Important?

Have you ever wondered what an employer does once they receive your job application? Chances are they'll run a background check on you. A background check is a process of verifying the accuracy of an applicant's personal, financial, criminal, and educational history. It's becoming a standard procedure for employers to conduct a background check before making a hiring decision.

This can be both good and bad news for job seekers. On one hand, a background check can give employers peace of mind that they are hiring a trustworthy employee. On the other hand, it can cause anxiety and worry for candidates who may have a less-than-perfect history.

Let's dive deeper into what a background check entails, the different types of background checks, and why employers consider it an essential aspect of their hiring process.

What Does A Background Check Include?

A standard background check usually includes a review of the following areas:

1. Criminal History

A criminal history check investigates whether an applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. It can be a state or national level check, depending on the employer's preference.

2. Employment Verification

An employment verification check involves contacting an applicant's previous employers to verify their employment status, job title, and duration of employment.

3. Education Verification

An education verification check confirms an applicant's highest level of education achieved, including the dates attended and degrees earned.

4. Credit Report

A credit report check examines an applicant's credit history, including their credit score, outstanding debts, and previous bankruptcies.

5. Drug Test

A drug test is a physical examination that tests for illegal substances. Employers often conduct drug tests to ensure that new employees can maintain a drug-free environment and perform their job responsibilities safely.

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Types of Background Checks

The type of background check a potential employer conducts will depend on various factors, such as the industry, job position, and job responsibilities.

1. Criminal Background Check

A criminal background check is the most common type of background check conducted by employers. It is used to confirm whether an applicant has a criminal history, including misdemeanors and felonies.

2. Credit Check

A credit check involves examining an applicant's credit report and evaluating their financial responsibility. Employers usually conduct credit checks for positions that require financial responsibility, such as in accounting or banking.

3. Employment Verification

An employment verification check goes beyond the information listed on an applicant's resume. It verifies the applicant's claimed employment history, including employment dates, job titles, and job responsibilities.

4. Professional License Verification

A professional license verification check examines whether an applicant has a valid professional license required for the job position. Many industries, such as healthcare and cosmetology, require a valid professional license to practice their profession legally.

Why Do Employers Conduct Background Checks?

Background checks are essential for employers to ensure that they are hiring the right candidate for their job position. There are several reasons why employers conduct background checks, including:

1. Protecting The Company & Customers

By conducting background checks, employers can reduce the risk of hiring someone with a criminal history, ensuring the safety of their employees and customers.

2. Legal & Regulatory Compliance

Many industries, such as healthcare and finance, are required by law to conduct background checks as a regulatory requirement to maintain compliance.

3. Screening Candidates

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A background check enables employers to screen and eliminate candidates who lie or exaggerate their qualifications and work experience.

4. Protecting Corporate Reputation

Employers want to maintain their reputable image and brand name in the market. By conducting background checks, they can minimize the risk of hiring someone who could damage their reputation.

5. Minimizing Liability

Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment for their employees. By conducting background checks, they can minimize their liability and protect their company from potential legal actions.

Is It Fair To Conduct Background Checks?

While background checks can provide peace of mind for employers, some job candidates may feel that they are unfair. Background checks can uncover information unrelated to job performance, such as an applicant's criminal record or financial history.

However, it's essential to remember that employers only use background checks to ensure the safety and suitability of their employees. They must comply with legal requirements, including confidentiality laws to protect the applicant's sensitive information.


In conclusion, background checks are becoming increasingly common in the hiring process. They provide employers with an opportunity to verify an applicant's claims and credentials, ensuring that they are hiring the right candidate for their organization.

While background checks may make some job seekers feel uneasy, it's essential to remember that they are a valuable tool for ensuring employee safety and reducing the risk of potential legal actions.

By conducting background checks, employers can maintain their reputable image and provide a safe work environment for their employees, ultimately benefiting the company and its employees in the long run.

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