According to Sterling’s UK Background Screening Trends & Best Practices 2018 Report, one in five companies that perform background checks does not have an official background screening policy.
For those of you who don’t, you may be wondering why it is important. Maybe you’ve never had any problems with candidates during the screening process, felt a policy was too complicated or didn’t know there was a need for one. But the truth is, a background screening policy helps maintain transparency with both candidates and employees and ensures that you handle all candidates in a consistent manner, avoiding inadvertent discrimination. When you do run into that vocal candidate challenging the background screening results, your policy will be your lifeline that helps you preserve a consistent and compliant screening process, protecting your brand, people, property and reputation.
Sterling has put together a Background Screening Policy Considerations checklist, which is a handy guide explaining the important components of a background screening policy. So, what should you bear in mind?
Who and What to Include in Your Background Screening Policy
Your policy will serve as a guideline from the way you communicate with your candidate throughout the background screening process and through the beginning of the onboarding procedure. It is important to clearly document each aspect of this process in line with all background screening legislation for the sake of complying with the law and maintaining utmost transparency with your candidates and employees. Here are some of the key considerations:
Decide at which point in the hiring process the background check will occur and who this covers. Whether this is before they are hired or when an offer is made, clearly outline a fixed point, to help avoid any procedural issues. But also determine who is subject to the checks and which employees need a more in-depth screening process. For example, sector specific screening requirements, mean some positions may need credit or financial stability checks as part of their package while others may need employment verifications and more.
Explain the method for how you perform and review the background checks. Now is the chance to highlight your reviewing process and that background checks are only one part of the hiring procedure, helping with candidate transparency and peace of mind. Hand in hand, document that the candidate will be given the opportunity to debrief with the employer if a decision has been made to terminate the hiring process as a result of the background check.
Include a process for data protection and upholding privacy for all candidates’ personal information. With the implementation of the GDPR in 2018, the way we handle our candidates’ information is under greater scrutiny and it is vital to follow all procedures. Don’t forget to pinpoint why you perform background checks in the first place and what you hope to achieve. Your candidates will feel much more confident giving you their personal information as a result and not to mention, you’ll mitigate any legal liabilities.
Define how often you will audit the process. The background check policy, if used correctly, exists to help you stay consistent with how you conduct your background checks and to ensure compliance. Have steps to monitor and review the success of your background screening policy and define a procedure for editing it in the future.
How to Roll Out Your Background Screening Policy Across Your Hiring Function
Once you have an idea of how to create and what to include in your background screening policy, how do you then implement this across your hiring function. Consider some of these key points:
Identify which groups need to be involved in this process. This may sit closely with your Risk and Compliance teams, but one person or group cannot make this policy alone. Identify who will be a part of this project, whether that is a project manager from HR or a representative from the Talent team and engage them in the process up front.
Consider international impact. Companies who are screening across regions or globally, this one is for you. Rather than creating one overarching policy, a plug-and-play type template may be more appropriate. With the structure of the policy in place, each region’s HR director can input locally appropriate information and your policy can remain in line with each country’s unique interests and procedures.
Whether you currently have a background screening policy or not, take a moment to review your background screening procedures and make sure you’ve ticked off all the essential considerations from our list.