Important Background Screening Trends Employers Must Know

BS Trends

by John Hawkins
Senior National Account Manager

Certain staples make up a background check, but the way we use the information evolves. What is acceptable and commonplace one year may be viewed as out of compliance, or even illegal, the next.

As the second half of the year unfolds, HR professionals must prepare for the background screening trends that will shape next year’s processes. Here are some important background screening trends that employers must understand to keep their policies effective and relevant.

IN: Screening Gig Economy Workers

As the number of people who work as gig economy workers rises, so does the risk they pose to the organizations that use them. Whether a person works for your company 40 hours a week or 5, they should be screened. A few years ago, many employers wouldn’t have bothered with the time and cost it takes to screen such an employee, but that is changing. We are seeing HR focusing on gig economy screening as closely as they do regular employees.

OUT: Focusing on Salary History

Asking how much money a job candidate makes is going the way of oversized sunglasses.

A variety of cities and states have banned the use of salary history questions for employment screening purposes. Once a common question in the interviewing and hiring process, the salary history question has recently come under fire because of pay disparity. The salary history question typically sets the starting point higher for men than it does for women. If, for example, a woman and man are vying for the same position, but the woman is making $50,000 a year and the man is making $58,000 a year, the woman’s offer may be lower than the man’s offer. The philosophy here is that the salary history question keeps the gender income gap (in 2019 it was estimated that a woman makes 79 cents to a man’s dollar) from narrowing. Without the question, both parties will be offered the same salary which, over time, helps close the gender pay gap. We predict the salary history question will become even more of a faux-pas than it is now.

IN: Using Technology to Boost Productivity

Applicant Tracking Software (ATS), mobile-friendliness, automated “knockout” keyword processes, and other technological solutions are becoming key in moving the hiring process forward efficiently and successfully. Such tools can save time, create a better candidate experience, foster more accurate data, and help make hiring decisions more insightful. Paper is as out as bell bottoms and probably won’t be coming back in style anytime soon.

OUT: Criminal Records Being an Automatic Deal Breaker

Asking candidates to check a box on the application regarding previous felonies is not only out, in many states it’s illegal. The “ban the box” movement began to give those with criminal histories a fair chance to be viewed by their education and experience, rather than being passed over because they were a convicted felon. The argument behind this trend is that when convicted criminals cannot find jobs they are more likely to re-offend.

The time to find out about a candidate’s criminal history is further into the hiring process so it can be weighed along with other aspects of the applicant to make an informed decision without prejudice.

IN: Screening Current Employees

While most employers screen job applicants before hiring them, many of them are getting onboard with screening them AFTER they become employees, too. While a good pre-employment screening process helps decrease the possibility of hiring unqualified, dishonest, or dangerous applicants, implementing a screening process for current employees further guards against risk to the company and the workplace. Ongoing criminal search screening and drug testing are two items companies may want to periodically review.

Finally, let’s talk about the “little black dress” of background screening: Compliance.

Adhering to strict and consistent compliance processes never goes out of style. This means following FCRA guidance, maintaining proper documentation, setting consistent processes, and conducting hiring and onboarding in a relevant and fair manner. Companies also need to send pre-adverse and adverse action letters to applicants who they choose not to hire in whole or part because of information returned on their background check. Making compliance a top priority protects the company from damage caused by lax, vague, or inconsistent practices. Change is inevitable. HR pros know to expect shifts in how recruiting, screening, and hiring are conducted. By proactively understanding the trends, you can meet the challenges head-on and well-prepared.

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