Top 10 Background Screening Trends in 2014


By Lester Rosen January 13, 2014

The “Ban the Box” movement to eliminate questions about criminal records on initial job applications to give ex-offenders a more-level playing field when looking for work tops the 2014 list.

The top ten trends to follow in 2014:

1. Ban the Box: The “Ban the Box” movement that seeks to eliminate questions about past criminal conduct on initial job applications is quickly heading toward becoming a national standard and will be a hot issue for employers in 2014. The “box” refers to where an applicant is asked to answer “yes” or “no” about a criminal past. The idea is that asking about criminal records upfront serves as a potential early knock-out punch for ex-offenders that may otherwise be qualified.

2. Updated EEOC Guidance on Use of Criminal Records: The updated guidance on the use of criminal records in hiring decisions issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on April 25, 2012, carries the potential to impact the hiring processes of every employer and human resources professional in the United States in 2014 and beyond. Although not a law or legally enforceable regulation, it is critical for employers to understand the guidance since it shows how the EEOC interprets the use of criminal records.

3. Commercial Criminal Databases Becoming More Controversial: The use of commercial criminal databases and cheap “do it yourself” background check web sites will be the focus of increased scrutiny and controversy in 2014 as employers face more risk when screening job applicants as the demand for accuracy in background check reports rises.

4. Class-Action Lawsuits for Failing to Perform Background Checks Properly: Given the need for employers to exercise due diligence in hiring and at the same time comply with the complex legal environment regulating hiring, employers can expect to see an increase in legal actions in 2014—including class-action lawsuits—for failing to perform proper background checks or failing to do them right.

5. Use of NAPBS Accredited Background Screening Firms: Given the increasingly complex legal environment, employers in 2014 will be faced with the challenges of ensuring that a background screening provider utilizes best practices to be in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the EEOC guidance for the use of criminal records, and applicable state laws as well as accuracy. The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) has introduced a rigorous accreditation program for screening firms that is confirmed by an onsite independent auditor and is a way to ensure an employer is dealing with a knowledgeable professional.

6. Identity Theft and Offshoring: Employers in the United States are coming under increased pressure to protect the personally identifiable information (PII) of job applicants due to increased media focus on identity theft and the “offshoring” of information gathered for background checks overseas beyond U.S. privacy laws. In 2014 employers may need to closely examine their processes in the area of protecting PII when it comes to background checks.

7. Social Network Searches Being Used Less: While a hot topic in past years has been the use of the Internet to help with employee selection through social media background checks, it appears that this trend is fading fast for a number of reasons. As a result, social network searches will diminish as a tool for background checks but will grow for purposes of recruiting and sourcing as well as employer branding.

8. Credit Reports Becoming Disfavored Tool: Employers should generally approach the use of credit reports for employment purposes with great caution, carefully examining if such use is regulated by state law, is relevant to the job, and be on the lookout for potential future restrictions in 2014 as credit report checks continue to become a disfavored tool that could potentially disappear from the hiring landscape.

9. International Background Checks: In 2014, the use of international background checks will increase as employers both open offices outside of the U.S. and hire people who have spent time abroad. With nearly 250 political entities in the world, each country is an adventure when it comes to background checks and employers cannot assume that screening internationally is the same as domestic U.S. processes.

10. Technology: Technology will continue to decrease time and effort needed for background checks in 2014. In the coming year, employers can expect to see even more robust applicant generated report (AGR) systems where applicants perform the data entry and also integration with applicant tracking systems (ATS) where employers can simply click a button and be done.

Lester Rosen is an attorney and the CEO of Employment Screening Resources, a background screening firm. He is also the author of The Safe Hiring Manual (Facts on Demand Press, 2012), a comprehensive guide on employment screening.

Republished with permission. © 2014 ESR. All rights reserved.​​


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