ESR has identified the following trends for 2009 in its second annual report on trends in the screening industry and safe hiring. The full report is online at: http://www.esrcheck.com/2009-trends-backgroundscreening-industry.php
- Increased Governmental Mandates: The federal and state governments for 2009 are likely to require more background checks, especially in sensitive industries.Â In addition, right-to-work verification under the E-verify program will be a hot topic for 2009.
- Privacy and Accuracy: Privacy advocates in 2009 will be focused on resolving instances of noncompliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s requirements for accuracy and dispute investigations. A leading cause of inaccuracies comes from matching innocent job applicants to criminal records based upon the same, or a similar, name in a database, without re-verification of the record at the courthouse. A new organization called Concerned CRA’s (www.concernedcras.com) has taken a stance against utilizing such databases without taking proper measures to ensure accuracy of criminal records.
- Second Chance for Ex-Offenders: Unless as a society we want to build more prisons than schools or hospitals, something must be done to reduce recidivism and find employment for applicants with criminal records. The State of New York, for example, to deal with this issue directly, has passed new â second chance” laws that became effective this year. The laws place a greater emphasis on employers analyzing a past criminal record to determine whether there is a business justification to not hire a person, including providing job applicants with notice of these various new rights.
- Consumer Protection Litigation: As the screening industry matures, and applicants and their lawyers become much more informed about their consumer rights, it is likely that there will be an increase in litigation in 2009. These lawsuits, including class action lawsuits, will be filed against screening firms, particularly when it comes to various notices required under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and accuracy requirements for the Background Screening Report results.
- Impact of the Recession: As a result of the recession and higher unemployment, it is likely that employers will need to scrutinize applications even more carefully, to be on the watch for fraudulent credentials, such as inflated or fictional employment or education history.
- Data Security, Data Breaches, and Off-shoring Data: Since identity theft continues to be a national and international problem, expect even more emphasis in 2009 on data security and protection.Â Closely related is the continuing issue of employers and screening firms sending confidential consumer data offshore for processing to places such as India for cost savings. Once data leaves the United States, it is beyond U.S. privacy protections. Concerned CRR’s (www.concernedcras.com) has also taken a stance against off-shoring such data without notification to consumers. The use of home-operator networks also presents an unnecessary risk to privacy as well. There is no justification for personal information to be spread across kitchen tables and dorm rooms across America.
- Accreditation by the NAPBS: The non-profit trade organization for the Screening Industry, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (www.napbs.com) has announced the introduction of an accreditation program. NAPBS has gone through an exhaustive process to develop “Best Practices” for the industry, and it is anticipated that firms will start going through the accreditation process this year.
- Social Network Sites: The use of social networking sites as a pre-employment screening device will continue to be a hot topic in 2009, as more recruiters and HR professionals go online to satisfy their curiosity about candidates. The problem: contrary to popular belief, just because it is online does not mean that it’s a good idea to utilize it without developing policies and procedures.Â Online material can be inaccurate, discriminatory, and under certain circumstances, its use can be an invasion of privacy. Stay tuned as more courts give their opinions on this issue.
- Integration of Services: With the advent of Web 2.0, it is likely that technology will play an even bigger role in the coming year. Seamless integrations with Applicant Tracking Systems allow paperless background screening systems at the click of a mouse.
- International Background Checks: With mobility of workers across international borders, Due Diligence is no longer limited to just what an applicant has done in the United States and there will be stronger demand in 2009 for International Criminal, Education, and past Employment checks.
ESR will place its Third Annual Top Ten Trends in January, 2010.