Should Workplaces Conduct Background Checks?

The most common answers you are likely to hear for this question is “Yes” and “Of course”, but there are still some that would argue that running background checks might not always be the wisest decision on the part of the employer or the organization.

Before we lay out both sides for you, let us first clarify what background checks are. 

What are Background Checks?

Most of the time, when applicants apply for a job, they tend not to lie or state misleading information on their application form, but it is still considered imperative by most employers and organizations to look into the past records, academic and work history of their applicants.

This investigation into their background is done to ensure that the employees that the company is about to hire are trustworthy and the right person for the job. The information that most employers are looking for includes criminal records, credit history, study and work history, driver license records, etc.

Employers require new recruits and sometimes even current employees to go through police clearance and present a police check as proof that they have no prior charges against them that could possibly become a liability for the employer or the organization. 

Why is it important for workplaces to run background checks?

There are a number of reasons why it is important to run background checks for new recruits. Some of these include:

Uncovers any criminal history a recruit may have

Amongst the chief reasons for conducting background checks is to make sure that the new recruit does not have a criminal record. Sometimes, criminal history uncovers minor charges on the applicant, and sometimes the charges that come forward can be major.

Therefore, in order to fully ensure that a new recruit is a viable option for hire, a thorough criminal record check needs to be conducted.

 Liabilities can be avoided

Pre-employment background checks almost always uncover any dubious behavior in the past of the employee, and it can save the employer the astronomical costs of going through a negligent hiring lawsuit.

Workplace safety is maintained

If the nature of the job applies, you may find yourself coming in contact with some dangerous persons in the hiring process. Hiring an individual with a criminal history, whether they are a sex offender or an otherwise violent criminal, is a risk you can simply not afford to take.

If you fail to run a background investigation on a potential recruit and they end up being such an individual, the safety of your workplace will be threatened.

 Ensures you have hired the right person for the job

Every employer wants to make sure that their efforts to right-size are effective and the person they’ve decided to hire for the job is the best, most competent person for said job.

To ensure this, background checks are absolutely necessary because they allow the organization to verify the information provided by the applicant from impartial sources and can gauge exactly how competent and hardworking the recruit is. 

What are the risks associated with running background checks?

 Employers may transgress legal guidelines of background checks

Although not very common, it is sometimes the case that employers may go over the top and obtain information about recruits and employees that is confidential and protected by labor laws.

This would open the employer and organization up to a lawsuit from the recruit or the current employee. 

Misinterpretation of information obtained from background checks

This scenario, too, does not occur very often, but it is also not unheard of. Sometimes, the information obtained from background checks may be misinterpreted.

For example, if the employer is conducting a background check on their own, they may mistake someone else, who has the same name as their recruit or employee and also has a criminal record, to be the person who works for them or is about to be hired. This, too, can become a liability for the organization.


Interesting Related Article: “What Comes Up In a Background Check?