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Consent for Background Checks

Conducting a background check must be done properly.  There are many laws governing how one proceeds with an investigation.  These laws vary from state to state.  It is important that they be conducted properly.  I advise using an experienced, knowledgeable organization to ensure compliance with both federal and state laws.

There are several areas of liability from Title VII violations to Fair Credit Reporting violations.  It’s important to “know your stuff”.  Most HR Professionals are familiar with the process.  If you do not have an HR Professional in your organization, I would recommend using a third party so that you can be sure you are in compliance.

I’ve included a copy of a consent form in today’s blog for your reference.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding this topic.Background & Credit check consent form – standard

A Pre-Employment Horror Story

Yesterday I spoke about the importance of pre-employment screenings.  Not to scare anyone or to have you think you are hiring the next “postal” worker but it should be taken seriously.  As an owner one must take precautions to ensure the safety of not only the stakeholders within the organization but also to anyone who comes in contact with that organization, vendors, customers, etc.

Case in point, what if your business suddenly picks up and you need to hire several new customer service reps to handle the  new volume of business.  You place an ad, receive a multitude of resumes and start the interviewing process.  You find the perfect person, they are well groomed, well-spoken, and have the perfect background experience . . . just what you are looking for.  In fact, you’ve fallen in love with them and hire them on the spot.  Good move?  No!!!!

In most cases it doesn’t take more that 24 hours to perform a thorough background check on that person.  You then have peace of mind knowing you’ve done your due-diligence and you have protected your business and all concerned.

You ask, “What about the Horror Story”?  OK, here goes:

This happened to John (names have changed to protect the “not so innocent”).  He needed to hire a customer service rep because business had consistently picked up and because of the overtime it was costing him.  He found the perfect guy (Steve) and hired him on the spot.  A week later he got a call from one of his customers stating that Steve “flew off the handle” when John called about an error on a recent order.  The customer knew that John stressed the importance of superior customer service and wanted John to be aware of the unusual behavior.

John called me to ask how he should handle the situation.  We asked about background screening and John said he didn’t have time.  We then conducted a “post hire” screening to discover that Steve had several counts of domestic violence charges all stemming from a “short temper”.

We discussed the results with John and he was not willing to give Steve a second chance based on the results of the report and his behavior with one of John’s customers.  Because Steve was within his 90 day introductory period, we advised John to terminate Steve immediately as he was within his introductory period and to state that Steve just wasn’t the right fit for the position.

John was fortunate because his customer cared enough to report Steve.  What would have happened to John’s business if the customer did not report Steve?  Take the time to check the backgrounds of those you hire, it will save you in the long run.

Don’t have time to do it yourself? Use a third-party vendor.  We’d be happy to assist you.

The Importance of Pre-employment Screening?

How honest are applicants on their resume?

What are good pre-employment screening procedures?

Pre-employment screening is more common these days than ever before. It’s estimated that over 40% of resumes can contain false or ‘tweaked’ information.  Employers want to insure that what they are getting in an employee is what they were promised.  The employer may perform a reference check to find out whether an applicant actually graduated from the college they said they did or to confirm that they worked at their previous employer(s) during the time stated on their resume or job application.

Employers need to know who they are hiring and they have a duty to their stakeholders and co-workers to keep everyone as safe as possible.  Background checks typically include both a criminal and credit check on the potential employee.  Finding out the truth about someone using a background check is quick, inexpensive and allows an employer to take the guess work out of hiring.

Do you know who you just hired?  Do you REALLY know who you just hired?

Has an Employee Ever Asked to See Their Personnel File?

Have you have been asked by an employee to review their personnel file? How did you answer them?
Here’s the general rule. Employers should treat all personnel files as they would treat any other sensitive company documents. They should be kept locked in a cabinet/room where only those authorized access to the information should have it. For various reasons, you may not want to allow employees access.
You may ask, why not allow employees access to their files? There can be very sensitive information that is retained on an employee that may not necessarily be for their eyes. For example, reference and/or background checks, incident investigations, to name a few.
There are eighteen states that have laws regarding employee access to their personnel files. If your business is in one of these states, you have no choice but to allow them access. The important thing is to know the law in your state and have your own policy that is compliant with your state law. You can have a policy on what documents get stored where, keeping all sensitive information separate.
I’ve always recommended employers maintain five separate files where employee information is stored. They are:
1) Records pertaining to an employee’s performance
2) Medical and benefit information
3) I-9 Information
4) Payroll Information
5) Worker’s Compensation records if applicable

Taking a hard-working employee for granted.

This morning I had a conversation with a friend who is someone I greatly admire. She is married, mother of three, has a professional career, is active in her church, is involved in several professional organizations, is working on her graduate degree and manages to be a good friend at the same time. It got me thinking, how is it some people keep many balls in the air at one tine while others cannot even manage one simple task?

Now here’s the clincher. She told me today that her employer feels she is not giving the company her all. They have said that her days with them are numbered. They would not be disappointed if she were to leave the company.

In looking at her accomplishments she has created a department that did not exist prior to her joining the organization. She has managed to save the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential penalties and fines by bringing them in compliance. She has implemented several cost savings programs and has maintained existing programs, keeping the company competitive. In essence she has done what normally would have taken a huge staff to do all by herself. Why are they not happy with her?

You see she gets more done in a half a day than most people get done in a day and a half. Because she gets more done in a short amount of time the expectation is for her to do more. I understand this philosophy. We all have the expectation that no mater what you accomplish if there is time at a the end of the day, then you should do more. On the other hand, how many times have we heard “I am getting paid to do a job, not to work by the hour”. What is correct?

There needs to be a happy medium. When someone has a gift of getting way more done than others, it should be recognized. People should not be punished for excelling in what they do. I know I have been blessed with that gift. Although not necessary, it is nice to be recognized for it once in a while. A thank you, a kind word goes a long way. It makes you want to give more when you are shown appreciation. So I ask you, today, recognize someone who has that special gift. Let them know you appreciate them. Don’t make the same mistake my friend’s employer did. They are losing one heck of a great person.