The new Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines on background checks for prospective employees was created to ensure nobody is being unfairly targeted or discriminated against due to their criminal past. Basically what the guidelines want to avoid is an employer using someone’s criminal conviction from many years ago as an excuse to not hire them for a job that is completely unrelated to the crime they committed.
To make sure your company is in compliance with the guidelines, avoid blanket refusals to only specific types of jobs (those who work with the finances of your company, for example). Other tips for business owners:
- Define your policy as narrowly as possible, and don’t stray outside those parameters for any prospective employee.
- Be specific about essential job requirements for each position, along with the circumstances under which work is done.
- Set a length of time for which any criminal conduct will be disregarded by your employment screening reports. (For example, if the conviction was 10 years in the past.)
- Include the justification for the policy and for each procedure. If you end up needing to justify your action regarding a prospective employee, you want your policy to be clearly written.
- Document any counsel and/or research used in creating the policy and procedures. Let them know there were legal and industry experts behind your decisions.
- Train managers, recruiters, and other decision makers on the policy and procedures.
- Don’t ask about convictions on job applications. Save it for the background check.