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Safe Hiring Information

Sample Language for Employee Manual for Safe Hiring

November 07, 2013

When it comes to implementing pre-employment screening, or screening of current employees for purposes of promotion, reassignment or retention, there are no legal requirements that suggest that a firm with an Employee Handbook needs to modify the handbook. Many employers do not refer to pre-employment screening in their Employee Handbooks.

However, there is also no reason not to include it in the handbook. An Employee Handbook can be one of the most effective ways to communicate general policies and procedures to employees. A well-written handbook can help avoid misunderstandings about policies and benefits, help avoid lawsuits and thereby enhance morale. Handbooks also promote consistency of treatment and reduce the risk of charges being made of discrimination.

The following language can be modified as appropriate for firms that choose to include their employment screening policy in the employee handbook. Because no one handbook applies to all businesses or all situations, this language is intended only as a general suggestion. Where there are alternatives available or decisions to be made, there is a footnote within a bracket.

(Sample Policy)

Employment Background Screening

To ensure that individuals who join this firm are well qualified and have a strong potential to be productive and successful, and to further ensure that this firm maintains a safe and productive work environment that is free of any form of violence, harassment or misconduct, it is the policy of this company to perform pre-employment screening and credentials verification on (all {1}) applicants who are offered and accept an offer of employment. A pre-employment background check is a sound business practice that benefits everyone. It is not a reflection on a particular job applicant.

Therefore, (all {1}) offers of employment are conditioned upon the firm's receipt of a pre-employment background screening investigation that is acceptable to the Firm at the firm's sole discretion. Any applicant who refuses to sign a release form will not be eligible for employment.

All pre-employment background screenings are conducted by a third party to ensure privacy. All screenings are conducted in strict conformity with the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and state and federal anti-discrimination and privacy laws. All reports are kept strictly confidential, and are only viewed by individuals in this firm who have direct responsibility in the hiring process. All screening reports are kept and maintained separately from your personnel file. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), all background screenings are done only after a person has received a disclosure and has signed a release. In addition, you have certain legal rights to discover and to dispute or explain any information prepared by the third party background-screening agency. If Employer intends to deny employment wholly or partly because of information obtained in an pre-employment check conducted by the company's consumer reporting agency, the applicant will first be provided with a copy of the background report, a statement of rights the name, address and phone number of the consumer reporting agency to contact about the results of the check or to dispute its accuracy.

The firm also reserves the right to conduct a background screening anytime after you have been employed to determine eligibility for promotion, reassignment or retention in the same manner as described above. {2}

Applicants also are expected to provide references from their former employers as well as educational reference information that can be used to verify academic accomplishments and records. Background checks may include verification of information provided on the completed application for employment, the applicant's resume or on other forms used in the hiring process. Information to be verified includes, but is not limited to, social security number and previous addresses. Employer may also conduct a reference check and verification of the applicant's education and employment background as stated on the employment application or other documents listed above. The background check may also include a criminal record check. If a conviction is discovered, a determination will be made whether the conviction is related to the position for which the individual is applying or would present safety or security risks before an employment decision is made. A criminal conviction does not necessarily automatically bar an applicant from employment. {3}

Additional checks such as a driving record or credit report may be made on applicants for particular job categories if appropriate and job related. Employment screening assessments to determine an applicant's job fit may also required of all applicants for employment. Skills tests related to the demands of the job may also be required.

This firm relies upon the accuracy of information contained in the employment application, as well as the accuracy of other data presented throughout the hiring process and employment, including any oral interviews. Any misrepresentations, falsifications, or material omissions in any of the information or data may result in the firm's exclusion of the individual from further consideration for employment or, if the person has been hired, termination of employment.{4}

{5} In addition, in order to ensure a safe and profitable workplace, all employees are required to report to their supervisor if they are arrested and or charged for any criminal offense, with the exception of minor traffic offenses unless the employee is in driving position. driving position is any position where the employee drives on company time or for the benefit of the company.

If an employee is arrested or charged for any offense, the employee must report the arrest or charge to their direct supervisor and submit a police report or other documentation concerning the arrest and /or charges. The report must occur within two business days of the arrest. Employer will not take any adverse action based only upon the fact of an arrest. Any action will be based upon the underlying facts of the arrest.

Noncompliance with the above stated requirement constitutes ground for termination. Furthermore, misrepresentation of the circumstances of the events can serve as ground for termination. Employees that are unavailable for work due to incarceration are subject to suspension or termination.


{1}. It is possible that a firm may not want to obligate itself to pre-screen all positions. Consequently, the handbook can indicate, for example, that, "The firm may elect to exempt certain positions or classifications from the background screening program. However, for those positions or classifications that are subject to the background screening program, all applicants will be screened."

{2} The issue of screening current employees carries special considerations as indicated above. This section is appropriate where a firm wishes to reserves the right to conduct pre-employment screening for current employees.

{3} It is advisable to have this language concerning criminal records in the handbook in this section. It has been held to be unlawful to automatically disqualify someone with a criminal record, because it can have a disparate impact upon racial and ethnic groups. However, a criminal record can be the basis of denying a job where the decision is job related, taking into account the nature of the offense, when it occurred, what the applicant has been doing since and how it would relate to the job.

{4} This language concerning truthfulness in the hiring process may already be contained in either an application or Employee Handbook. However, if it is not currently in use, it may be appropriate to place in this section, since it is related to pre-employment screening.

{5} Before instituting a policy dealing with arrests and/or incarceration, contact your employment attorney to determine the status of such a policy in your state.

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