What is a background check?
A background check is a process of searching and compiling the employment history, commercial records, criminal records, and/or financial records of a person or organization. The legitimacy, frequency, and purpose of background checks vary between, industries, countries, and individuals. The method used to conduct a background check can also vary. For instance, a background check can involve personal references to comprehensive database searches. Also, there are several types of background checks.
The most common types – employee background checks are usually requested by employers for employment screening purposes, especially on job candidates seeking employment positions that demand a high level of security, confidentiality, and trust. Schools, courthouses, hospitals, airport, financial institutions, and government are examples of employers who often request background checks. The checks are usually administered by government agencies at a fee but can also be carried out by private institutions.
Reasons for conducting background checks
Background checks are used by employers as a basis for judging past mistakes, fitness and the character of job seekers to identify potential safety and security risks should the candidate be hired. In the US, background checks are used by government on current and potential employees to inform security clearance decisions. However, there are instances where background checks are conducted for illegal reasons such as for; unlawful or employment discrimination, violation of privacy and identity theft.
Majority of background checks are conducted to confirm information submitted in employment applications or resumes. Checks are also conducted to identify exemplary potential employees that are best suited for certain jobs. Background checks have also become a necessity in workplaces today for security reasons. Employers have an obligation to provide safe working environments at work.
In the US, the obligation to conduct background checks is enshrined in law. In the Brady Bill, for instance, licensed firearm dealers must do criminal background checks on individuals who want to buy handguns. Restricted firearms, concealed weapons permits, precursor chemicals also require criminal background checks. If you work in positions posing special security concerns like trucking, airline transportation, ports of entry, you may be required to go through regular checks in most countries, including the US. There are also laws in existence, preventing individuals who don’t pass criminal background checks from working in careers involving children, the elderly and disabled.