Continuous employment background checks – ethical questions for HR?

Continuous employment background checks – ethical questions for HR?

The use of post-employment background checks for continuous monitoring is trending upward. With police records becoming digital, employers can oftentimes learn of an employee’s arrest soon after booking. But does the use of such technology raise ethical questions for employers, perhaps too reminiscent of George Orwell’s “Big Brother?”

Today, it’s estimated 93% of companies across the U.S. conduct background checks as part of a hiring process, while only 1 in 5 employers conduct background checks post-hire. Post-hire background checks can be annual or continuous.

According to the Professional Background Screening Association, 19% of organizations conducted post-hire background checks in 2021, an increase from 12% in 2020. But initiating a continuous background screening process on existing employees could be problematic.

As we often tell human resource (HR) directors here at GroupOne Background Screening, “Be careful what you ask for.” Are you prepared to find something you would rather forget? More accurately, are you prepared to let a good employee go due to an arrest over a vacation weekend in Las Vegas? Because, truth be told, what happens in Vegas rarely stays there.

An employer that will not take action against a valued employee raises ethical questions in the workplace. What is the justification of a policy that makes exceptions? It’s a dangerous legal area.

But as our expert team of detectives say at GroupOne, “There’s a stronger case for ongoing employment background checks, especially for jobs related to public safety.”

What if a professional truck driver is arrested for a DWI? What if a child-care employee is arrested for a sex crime? What if a nurse is arrested for drug possession? No matter the quality of the employee, this information is crucial for your company.

Companies that only run background checks when hiring will be unlikely to learn of a new charge showing up on someone’s criminal history. Continuous checks not only make the world safer, they protect you from future litigation. And as we all know, litigation is never cheap.

Your candidates may pass an initial background check, but that doesn’t mean they will not change over time. Continuous checks include monitoring of professional licenses, such as those held by hospital employees. Simply put, continuous checks can be defined as continuous safety. It’s a great way to get in front of a potential crisis at your company.

The information and opinions expressed are for educational purposes only and are based on current practice, industry related knowledge and business expertise. The information provided shall not be construed as legal advice, express or implied.

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