How Important are Employment Background Checks?

By: Shelly Cruz

Employment background checks are vital for not only you as an employer but also for your company as a whole. You may have heard the terms Negligent Hiring, or Due Diligence. If you are not familiar with these terms let me take a moment to enlighten you. As an employer it is your responsibility to exercise reasonable caution or due diligence by uncovering any potential problems a person may have in their past that they could bring to the workplace. If you fail to exercise your due diligence, and this person is hired and goes on harm someone, steal from the company, or sexually harasses another employee, and there was evidence from their past that proved you were in a position to reasonably anticipate that this sort of behavior had the potential to repeat itself, you as the employer could be sued for Negligent Hiring. It is a frightening fact that employers who are involved in negligent hiring cases lose over 70% of lawsuits and in some cases are ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines. As you can undoubtedly see, one of the most important reasons to conduct employment background checks on prospective employees is to protect yourself and prove that you have in fact taken the appropriate measures to ensure that this employee will not be any type of risk to you or the workplace.

Now that you know you should be protecting your company against Negligent Hiring by completing employment background checks, you should be aware of the additional reasons you must take the time to implement a background check policy for potential employees. Let us take a look at some very convincing statistics. The Bureau of Justice statistics shows that, "67% of criminals released from prison in 1994 were re-arrested for at least one serious crime within the next three years, and that nearly 60% of sex offenders are under conditional supervision (probation or parole) in the United States". The New York Times says that, "70% of illegal drug users have full-time jobs". According to a national survey, The University of Florida has found, "American retail employees stole $10.4 billion in a one-year period". This gives you a compelling idea of how many individuals have the potential to have criminal pasts. Now ask yourself this, do you want to take the risk of hiring one of these individuals? What are the potential risks of hiring a person with a criminal past and bring them into your workplace? Do you really want to find out first hand?

Aside from conducting background checks to investigate a persons criminal past, it is also important to verify the validity of the educational degrees, professional licenses, references and past employment that the applicant has provided to you. According to a recent study, The American Psychological Association says that, "67% of job applications and resumes in the U.S. contain misrepresentations." If you are hiring for a position where a particular skill set, degree or license is required, I am positive that you want to be sure the person you are hiring for this position does in fact have the education, and licenses that they claim to hold.

It is my hope that you are now convinced that the most important part of the hiring process begins with a proper background check. As employer you must exercise your due diligence when hiring, protect yourself from Negligent Hiring and be sure that you truly have the right person for the job.

Human Resources
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