Blog by Danny Davila, LPI, RACR, FCRA, Executive Director of GroupOne

The career of an HR leader is filled with opportunities to increase engagement and expand workforce knowledge. It’s important we understand how changes in 2018 are going to impact operations. We must be aware of the strategic, tactical and compliant roles that are expected so our skills can be utilized effectively within our organizations.

Changes to the landscape, as we see it now, will be noticeable in some areas of the country. As a rule, it’s important for each of us to understand how changes in compliance, fair hiring practice and employment expectations are going to impact our operations. Of the 386 current bills that the National Association of Professional Background Screening (NAPBS) legislative relations team is tracking, the primary issues surround: Data Security (56 bills) Ban the Box (40 bills) and Salary History (38 bills).

Other legislative priorities are Taxes/Budgets, Sexual Harassment, Fair Pay, Firearms and Immigration. According to Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), there is additional focus on the convenience in providing onboarding services prior to day one, sexual harassment compliance and immigration policies.

Data Security
Increased measures to ensure the security of private information is at the forefront of consumer reporting agencies such as GroupOne. Compliance with data security standards will be intensified because of the Equifax data breach. State legislators are expanding audits of both consumer reporting agencies and clients. This is expected to ensure that systems have appropriate security standards. While the responsibility of data security is largely managed by information systems departments, HR teams will be expected to be vigilant in their adherence.

Ban the Box
While “Ban the Box” laws should be consistent with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair Chance Pledge, there is an amount of discernment of how the legislation in various states is impacted by local officials. In New York City, there is currently written and verbal engagement with the Commission on Human Rights as they work on updating their Fair Chance Act interpretations. The primary point of concern is the addition of two major steps in the hiring process.

The New York Commission on Human Rights reads the statute to require a two-step background check process based on the law’s requirement that criminal inquires cannot be made until after an offer of employment is extended. In lieu of submitting one consumer release and disclosure to request a background report that would include both the criminal and employment verification, the changes recommend the separation of the two processes and require a disclosure and release for criminal reporting and a separate one for employment verification. These proposed adjustments are being addressed by the NAPBS and stakeholders.

Salary History
On January 1, applications for employment in California may no longer ask for the disclosure of salary history. The reason is to avoid considering a past salary that may have been influenced by gender. In October 2017, New York City passed a law that makes it unlawful to ask the salary history of an applicant or to rely on the salary history, benefits or other compensation during negotiation. There were bills in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington that addressed salary history provisions for employers. This movement is magnified by the advancement of equal-pay amendments and efforts to ensure balanced treatment regardless of gender.

Budget/Taxes, Sexual Harassment, Firearms and Immigration
The HR industry and hospital leaders should be keenly aware of how our nation’s climate is impacting the policies, actions and behaviors of employees. The effort to reduce taxes and regulate state, county and federal budgets will impact the courthouses when producing criminal records. The background screening industry has experienced delays in the completion of reports due to the lack of personnel.

The timely topic of sexual harassment will create an increase in workforce training to ensure compliance. Byproducts include the reasons provided for an employment termination due to sexual harassment violations. From the perspective of a consumer reporting agency, we are obliged to report the facts as presented by employers. Reporting functions for an employee cited for violation of possession or use of firearms will also become a growing topic.

Due to the increased implementation of immigration controls and adherence to I-9 employment verification forms, additional attention to employment-related documentation is necessary. Employers must rely on third-party sources to ensure processes are monitored. In addition, post-employment and sanction/exclusion rechecks are increasing to ensure workforces have not been compromised.

Growing expectations to ensure fairness in the HR landscape will increase due to our nation’s growing concerns regarding equal pay, fair hiring practices, immigration and compliance. It is critical for each of us to keep abreast of these rapid changes. Unfortunately, there is no one-stop shop. HR professionals and executives will need to explore methods to ensure your employees are addressed with dignity and support as they contribute to your company’s ultimate performance goals.