How to Create a Background Screening Policy


Colleagues discussing how to create a background screening policy

Employers run background checks on candidates for important reasons such as to maintain legal compliance, protect their organization’s reputation, and uphold workplace safety. In fact, over 90% of employers run checks. This is because background checks show information on employment history, public social media behaviour, and convictions, arrest warrants, and other criminal charges such as in the example of a criminal record check. This information helps manage risk to the company, co-workers, and clients.

Employer deciding how to create a background screening policy

Establishing a Background Screening Policy

If you’re still not convinced, here are 10 reasons why background checks are important.

Ready to go? If you’re interested in how to create a background screening policy to set the standards for how your organization runs background checks, here are some best practices to consider:

Purpose of the Background Screening Policy

What’s the purpose of the policy? Why are you performing background checks? For example, you might run a background check to demonstrate due diligence and maintain a safe workplace. In another instance, you may be required to run a check to meet industry-mandated standards. Research and understand the relevant federal, state/provincial, and local regulations that govern checks in your jurisdiction. For example, different regions have restrictions regarding what information can be collected and considered during the hiring process – this is critical information when considering how to create a screening policy!

Application of the Background Screening Policy

Who does your policy apply to? Does it apply to all new employees? Are current employees required to complete a check before a promotion? 

Process for Background Screening Consent

Establish a process for obtaining written consent from individuals you’ll conduct checks on. A part of how to create a background screening policy involves determining how you’ll obtain written consent. How will you communicate to applicants or employees why the checks are being conducted and how the information will be used? 

Selecting Background Screening Products and Services

Which background checks will you request? As noted above, a criminal record check shows information on a candidate’s criminal history. Decide on the types of checks that will be conducted, such as criminal record checks, social media screening, and education verification. When we talk to clients about how to create a background screening policy, we remind them that in order to maintain compliance with laws and industry regulations it’s very important that the policy applies consistently to all candidates and employees and that each role has the same check or set of checks.

Establishing Timing of Background Screening

When will you request the check? The timing is important because there are laws that ban checks prior to conditional offers which you can read more about in this blog post on FCRA requirements for employers. Communicate your screening policy to all employees, applicants, and relevant stakeholders to ensure that everyone is aware of the policy’s existence, purpose, and procedures.

Implementing the Background Screening Policy

In thinking about how to create a background screening policy, determine who’s authorized to request a background check and review the results. Provide training to HR staff, hiring managers, and relevant personnel on the policy, including its purpose, procedures, and legal implications.

Record Keeping

Where will reports be stored and for how long? Keep detailed records of the screening process, including consent forms, screening results, communication with individuals, and any actions taken based on the results. Outline how the collected information will be stored, used, and protected to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of individuals’ personal data. Compliance with data protection regulations is crucial.

Background Screening Vendor Selection

If you plan to use a third-party vendor to conduct checks, carefully select reputable providers that comply with legal requirements and industry best practices.

Shaking hands and agreeing with colleagues on how to create a background screening policy

Background Check Checklist

To summarize everything we detailed above about how to create a screening policy, here are the questions to ask and answer:

  1. What’s the purpose of the policy?
  2. Why are you running checks? 
  3. Who does the policy apply to?
  4. How will you obtain written consent before running the checks?
  5. What background checks will you request?
  6. When will you request the checks? 
  7. Who’s authorized to request background checks and review the results?
  8. Where will reports be stored and for how long?
  9. Which vendor will conduct the checks?

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when you’re planning how to create a background screening policy. The questions and best practices mentioned above should not be construed as legal advice, guidance, or counsel and you should consult your own legal counsel about their compliance obligations as the requirements vary by jurisdiction.

Industry-Leading Background Checks

Developing and implementing a comprehensive organization-wide policy is the cornerstone to safety, compliance, and brand reputation management. While the insights above aren’t legal counsel, we’ve covered all the basics of how to create a background screening policy. 

Are you ready to start running checks? With our network of global partners and in-depth knowledge of screening requirements, we offer industry-leading turnaround times while helping you protect your organization from employee-related risk.

In addition to checks, we can help you run:

  1. Identity Verification
  2. Public Records Searches
  3. Social Media Screening

Why wait? Schedule a demo today to see how Certn’s background screening experts can be your trusted ally in coming up with how to create a background screening policy and navigating screening at your organization.