Five Best Practices for Assessing Your Employment Screening Programs

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A number of employers all over the United States are engaging in an internal review of their background screening programs and policies, responding to the sea change that has occurred in recent years in the practice’s regulatory and legal environment.

These audits are intended to shore up their programs, hopefully better insulating these organizations from expensive litigation or other costly legal actions.

But for many employers, there may be a great deal of uncertainty as to where to start with these reviews. After all, background screening programs center on a business-critical process—one that has a definite impact on the success of their recruiting efforts—so pressing “pause” while undertaking a background screening audit is probably not feasible for most organizations.

Likewise, employers may be hesitant to make significant changes to a program that can ultimately make their workforces stronger and their workplaces safer.

So, for those organizations that need to perform this type of review of their background screening programs, there are a few best practices that can help lead them in the right direction:

  1. Involve multiple stakeholders. Though in some instances collecting input and opinions from a multitude of people may lead to unnecessary complexity and confusion, garnering participation from a wide range of stakeholders can be beneficial when reviewing an organization’s employment screening program. Representatives from human resources, legal / compliance, operations, security, and other relevant departments can add much-needed variable perspectives into this critical exercise.
  2. Designate a background screening subject matter expert (SME). Most employers would likely benefit from having an in-house expert who is well-versed in all the complex issues surrounding background screening. Some larger organizations may even benefit from having multiple SMEs that can help guide the internal audit and advise the larger team on important facts and developments.
  3. Make an immediate assessment as to whether the audit and any subsequent changes will be protected by attorney-client privilege. In the current regulatory and legal climate, any documents, working notes, or other products of the internal audit could potentially be exhibits in possible future litigation. As a result, employers should work with their counsel on the front end to determine if such work product can be cloaked by the attorney-client privilege.
  4. Determine the centralization issue. For employers with multiple locations, it is critical to determine whether oversight of the revised screening program will be centralized (i.e., managed by a single team) or decentralized (i.e., field offices can make final hiring determinations). Given the ever-evolving environment, some organizations may feel more comfortable having such decisions managed by a small group of people well-versed in all the pertinent issues.
  5. Stay abreast of changes in the landscape. With all the changes that have occurred in recent years in the regulatory and legal environment, it is somewhat logical that more evolution is to come. Employers, therefore, would benefit from remaining current with both pending and recently enacted or released changes that would impact their screening programs.

Obviously, this is not an extensive list of all the best practices employers may want to consider as they undertake a review of their background screening programs.

Though such an audit may seem like a daunting task, organizations who do perform this exercise may ultimately feel more confident in their overall programs.

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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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