Pre-employment background checks are becoming the norm across many industries, so it’s natural to ask yourself: Are background checks confidential? Read on to discover the answer and learn more about background checks and background screening.
Are Background Checks Confidential?
The short answer is yes, background checks are confidential. In fact, not only are background checks confidential but there is legislation in place to protect the information gleaned through a background check.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (or FCRA for short) is federal legislation that regulates the collection and use of consumer credit information, including background checks. You can read the full text of the FCRA here.
Employers are allowed to use background check information only to make employment decisions. Additionally, employers are also prohibited from sharing a potential employee’s background check information with a third party unless they get written consent from the candidate/employee.
The Situation in California
In addition to federal laws, each state has created laws that offer additional protections for applicants when an employer runs a background check.
For example, the California Fair Check Act prohibits employers with five or more employees from asking a job candidate about their conviction history before making a job offer.
This means that California employers are allowed to run a background check only after they have given the applicant a job offer. However, the employer is allowed to make the job offer conditional on the applicant passing the background check.
It’s also worth noting that in California, arrest and convictions can only be reported on a background check if they happened during the last seven years. Any information older than that can’t be included, except in limited circumstances.
Wrapping It Up
In short, background check information is confidential and is protected in different ways both by federal and state laws.
Whether you are an employer or an applicant, it’s always a good idea to learn more about the laws that regulate background checks.
A good place to start is by reading the Fair Credit Reporting Act (here’s the link again). As for laws in your state, finding more info can be as simple as making a quick search for the term “Background screening laws” plus the name of your state on Google.
Plexus Global: Background Screening Services in California
Plexus Global is a background screening company located in Riverside, California, serving organizations all over the U.S. and abroad.