Most employers perform some form of background screening on prospective employees. Often, this is conducted as a condition of the job offer. The candidate proceeds through the hiring process and is made a conditional offer, and the offer proceeds if nothing negative is discovered through the screening process.
Employers do this as a form of due diligence. They want to be sure that there’s nothing lurking in the candidate’s background that would be a red flag for employment. They also want to be sure there’s nothing that could possibly present a risk to the organization or to other employees. After all, employers have an obligation to try to keep employees safe, and most view a background check of potential new employees as a critical component of that effort.
But what happens after employment begins? What if an individual has behaviors that occur after employment begins (or were missed preemployment)—behaviors that would otherwise be red flags to the employer—but they’re never brought to the employer’s attention?
This is where postemployment background checks come in. Postemployment background checks, also called continuous screening, serve a similar purpose to preemployment background checks: They’re looking for red flags that would indicate an individual is either not suitable for the role or perhaps presents some unacceptable form of risk. (In some industries, such as the medical industry and the transportation industry, posthire screenings are required to ensure continued safety.)
For example, just as an employer would be wary of hiring someone who has recently committed violent acts, it would also be wary of keeping someone on staff who has recently committed violent acts. That person may reasonably present a risk to other employees. But how is an employer going to know about problems that do not occur at the workplace?
Or, less dramatically, an employee may no longer be legally allowed to drive for one reason or another, but the employer does not know and does not take any steps to discontinue that employee’s privileges with company vehicles.
These are just a couple examples of reasons employers may want to conduct posthire background checks. Just like prehire checks, they reduce a company’s likelihood of keeping someone on board who is a risk to the company or to others. By conducting these types of checks on a consistent basis, the organization also can demonstrate it is taking proactive steps to keep the workplace safe.
When employers conduct posthire background checks, they’re usually looking for things like:
- Criminal behavior, particularly anything that would present a safety or other risk for the organization or other employees, such as violence, fraud, or theft.;
- Maintenance of professional licensing and training as needed;
- Maintenance of a clean driving record for roles where driving is a part of the role; and
- Clean drug testing for safety-sensitive roles.
For organizations that work with groups who may be at higher risk of abuse—such as children or the elderly—it may be prudent to do additional or more frequent screening.
Tips on Conducting Posthire Background Screening
- Conduct posthire background screening on a consistent schedule. It makes it less likely something will fall through the cracks. It also minimizes the amount of time problematic behavior will go unnoticed.
- Consider random drug tests for workplaces with safety-sensitive positions.
- Remember that all screening, whether it’s done before or after employment has begun, is typically subject to the regulations in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- Work with legal counsel to ensure you’re conducting all screening in a legal way. Remember, state and local laws may vary on this topic.
- Be sure to have consent from the individual being screened. The specific consent required may vary by state or location. New consent may be needed each time, in some cases.
- Just like a preemployment screening, take each case and review it individually before making judgments or taking adverse action. Remember that arrests don’t equal convictions. And some offenses truly are unrelated to the ability to do the job well.
- Be fair and consistent in which employees are screened. It should not be discriminatory.
- Pay attention to the cost versus benefit. There are direct costs in terms of money, and there are also indirect costs in terms of morale. Watch the impact on workplace satisfaction. Weigh the negative impact of employee screening against the benefits.
Does your organization perform posthire background screening? What else would you advise?