Why Current Employees Need Background Checks

So you obtained a background check on every employee prior to extending an offer of employment, and the results came back clean.  Now you can relax.  Right?

The simple answer is “no,” because quite frankly, things change.  The finance manager that you hired five years ago may have an open criminal case for shoplifting.  The sweet employee who provides seemingly top-notch service to the young children in your daycare center or the mild-mannered nursing home worker may have recently been charged with physically assaulting a family member or neighbor.  The assistant that you want to have run errands using a company car could have a checkered driving history.

While these examples may seem far-fetched, they really aren’t.

Employers have a duty to provide a safe environment to their customers and employees, and a “one-and-done” background check could put your company at risk.  This is why you should consider ordering periodic background checks on existing employees.

There are a couple of important actions that you should take:

  1. Get written consent to perform a new background check.  The consent form from the hiring process is no longer valid, unless specified in writing either on the form, or in an employee document, such as a handbook.
  2. Be fair when requesting subsequent background checks.  To mitigate the risk of being sued:
    • Have a good reason for requiring an updated background check.
    • Be careful to not single out a particular segment of your workforce while leaving others unchecked.  For example, do not require men to submit to a background check at higher rates than their female counterparts.  This logic applies to all other protected classes as well.

The bottom line is that safety should be one of the most important considerations of any organization.  A safe environment not only promotes a healthy workplace culture, but it moves your organization toward achieving its goals.