GroupOne Background Screening has often been asked if we can conduct background checks on minors. Is it legal? Usually the answer is “Yes,” but there are many elements to consider before performing such checks.

In order to conduct a background check on a minor, you must always have parental or a legal guardian’s consent. In fact, most states have determined that minors are not capable of giving consent for background checks.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “Even when parental consent is obtained, not all records an employer usually requests in these screenings will be available.”

The majority of criminal records for minors are sealed, thus making them unattainable. If a minor was convicted as an adult, some criminal records might then be available.

For the most part, minors are unable to obtain credit until the age 18. If they were able to obtain a loan—perhaps purchasing a car with a parental co-signer—they may have a brief credit history.

Past employment and educational records for minors should be available. If the minor has worked or even volunteered, employers may be able to obtain references. It is the same process as for adults. Ask the minor to provide the name and contact information for employers, as well as express permission to contact them. Usually, three references are the ideal number.

If a minor lacks professional references, personal references could be an option. When hiring minors, employers may need to adjust screening policies due to the information available for review. GroupOne recommends employers who hire minors should draft a screening policy utilizing the assistance of an employment law attorney. This should almost always protect an employer’s interests.