July 27, 2016


Conducting thorough background checks on all personnel having access to a company facility is an integral part of a quality security plan.

Generally, the background screening process should be tailored to each position. For example, if driving a vehicle is a requirement for the position, it is important to determine if the individual being considered for the position has a valid driver’s license and to perform an examination of his or her driving record. If a degree or professional license is required, verification of credentials should be a requirement. In the case of a professional license, you will also need to ensure that a search for sanctions or other disciplinary actions imposed by the agency issuing the license is conducted.

A search for criminal records is almost always included. However, what is significant here is the method of the search. In an effort to save money or to speed up the process, many companies will opt for a search of a criminal records database. While these private databases offer instant results, they do not contain all criminal records; no database does. Sometimes, the records they do contain are incomplete or outdated. Therefore, a real-time search of actual court records, in jurisdictions where the individual has resided, attended school, or worked for the past 7 to 10 years, is the recommended protocol when conducting a criminal records check.

It is also just as important to define what information found in a background check is grounds for disqualification and who is responsible for making that decision. Since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) strongly discourages bright line policies such as, “a felony conviction within the past 5, or even 10, years is an automatic disqualifier,” you’ll need a mechanism that allows the candidate to provide additional details and extenuating circumstances about the information in the background check report. More importantly, you do not want to leave the decision to a junior level recruiter at a staffing agency, whose commission is dependent on placing workers at an organization.

In relation to vendors and contractors, ideally the vendor or contractor already has a pre-employment background screening policy and procedure in place for hiring employees who will work directly or indirectly at your facility. The goal is to make sure that the standards you set for your own employees are also applied to interns, temporary, and contract workers. While it may not be practical to require the copy machine repair company, the office supply dealer, or others who send their employees to your premises on an occasional basis to sign a contract requiring background checks that mirror your own, there are simple measures that you can put in place to enhance security at your facility. One example would be to only choose vendors who show a commitment to doing thorough background checks. Another example would be to make sure that you allow only limited access to your facility by these vendor/contractor employees. Require such individuals to be escorted by one of your employees or, at a minimum, require these individuals to wear a visitor ID so they will stand out if they are in an area of your facility that they should not be.

Performing proper background checks on the front-end significantly reduces security concerns on the back-end. This reflects your company’s commitment to ensuring the safety of all of its employees.