Sunday, November 15, 2015

Re-Screening Existing Employees? The Pros and Cons for Your Small Business



Not Re-Screening Your Employees can Hurt Your Business!


As an employer, you understand 
the benefits of background checks. 
You recognize that having all the facts before deciding who to hire 
makes good business sense.  

And I have written numerous articles detailing why, when, and how to do it right.  You can find them on my site www.accessprofilesblog.com.   

The following are two of my favorites:
4 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need to Do Background Checks and Why Not doing Background Checks is a Big Mistake .

However, for many, the concept of 
re-screening existing employees 
is much harder to understand.

As a business owner, you may believe that since you checked into your employees history once, there is no need to check again. Or you may think that re-screening them shows a lack of trust.

While I can understand the confusion, there are legitimate reasons why doing post-hire screenings make sense.

You should first understand one thing ~ Relying solely on your initial employment background checks to mitigate risk can give you a false sense of security.  


While your employees may have been hired with a clean record, this might not always continue to be the case.  Or you may have hired someone knowing they had a criminal past, but be unaware that they have since re-offended.

Either way, doing background checks on current employees is an effective way of discovering whether there is new information you need to know to keep your company safe.


Existing employees actually pose their own set of risks.  They already have access to your company information and assets.  They also have contact with your other employees and even your clients. Day in and day out they are acting as the face and voice of your company.

But as with anything, there are Pros and Cons to re-screening.  It is important that you understand both before making the decision to use post-hire checks in your small business.


The “Pros” of Re-Screening

The benefits of re-screening boils down to these 4 reasons:
  • To Make Sure your Current Employees have not been Convicted of a Crime since They were Hired
  • To Discover New Potential Threats to Your Company’s Safety  
  • To Determine Whether to Retain Your Current Employees
  • To Determine Whether to Promote Your Current Employees ~ especially important if their new position has increased responsibilities and access to company information/assets
You can find out more about the “Why” and “When” of re-screening here

For these reasons it is important to ensure that nothing has changed since your employee’s first background check.

Despite the advantages of Re-screening, 
many believe that the jury is still out as to whether it should be part of 
your employment policy.

Questions concerning the costs involved, the potential of raising the ire of the EEOC, and most importantly, the effect re-screening could have on company morale need to be considered.



The “Cons” of Re-Screening
  • Time and Money 
Most re-screening involves checking for any possible new criminal records.  The most accurate searches are done directly through the courts ~ and this involves paying any court search fees and, most likely, the fees of a background check company.  

Additional time is also spent in verifying the information found, along with following all guidelines including obtaining a signed release for the re-screen and all individual assessment practices.

Find out more in “Individual Assessments ~ What They Are and Why You Need to Use them in Your Small Business”!

  • EEOC, State, & Federal Questions
As with anything concerning employment background checks, it is important to keep in mind the EEOC, state, and federal guidelines governing these checks.

You still need to obtain the required signed releases from your employees permitting the check.  You also need to follow all steps outlined in your own hiring policies concerning notice of rights, the individual assessments I discussed previously, and the question of “business necessity”.


You also need to be careful to follow a well documented policy describing how you will deal with any new criminal record discovered during the re-screening.  

Find more details on what you can do to keep compliant with EEOC and state/federal guidelines in “Tips to Help Your Business Fly Under the EEOC Radar”.


Services to Help You Hire Safely and Effectively

What you need to know is that despite guidelines on re-screening, the EEOC does permit background checks on existing employees

The key factor is to keep firmly in mind your “business necessity” for doing so.

The EEOC defines “Business Necessity” and any type of employment screening (pre and post hire) as the link between “specific criminal conduct, and its dangers, with the risks inherent in the duties of a particular position.” *Source1

This means that, as the employer, you need to show that your policy to re-screen is directly related to the job the employee is filling and the safety of your company.


Once again, this means you need to consider the Nature of the Job (specifically the duties required to fulfill the job) and why certain criminal conduct would hinder successful performance of those job duties.

Take a look at this case……

The EEOC brought suit agains BMW over its re-screening of existing employees.  The issue centered around BMW asking “some of its existing workers — who seemed to be working out just fine — to submit to the same criminal background screening that new hires were being subjected to”.  *Source2

As a result, 100 existing workers were denied re-employment, despite having worked with the company without incident in the past.  

The EEOC claimed that these actions had a “disparate impact” on minority workers and challenged BMW in court.

The court ruled in favor of the EEOC, in the amount of $1.6 million.  The ruling was mainly based on 2 factors.  None of the employees denied re-employment had exhibited any problems in the past and BMW did not show any “business necessity” in refusing to re-hire them.

Being careful to have valid business reasons for re-screening is crucial to not running into a possible lawsuit.


  • Company Morale
As a small business owner, you have the right to be concerned that re-screening may create an atmosphere of distrust in your workplace

You may be worried that it sends a message of distrust between you and your employees.  You may even question whether being re-screened before being considered for promotions creates additional stress on your valued employees.  


While these are valid concerns, your best option is to develop and communicate a sound re-screening strategy that will address these issues while mitigating risk to your small business!

In fact, it is in your best interest to develop this policy long before you ever need to use it!


What You Should Do
  • Develop Your Re-Screening Policy
Be sure to address when and how any re-screenings will take place. You need to decide whether these re-checks will be regularly scheduled (for example every 2 years) or only in certain situations (for example, when an employee is up for promotion).

You also need to outline the steps you will take to re-screen. These should include:
  • Obtaining a Signed Release Prior to the Background Check
  • Using a 3rd Party to Conduct the Background Check - both to save costs and to ensure you are compliant
  • Documenting How You will Handle any Negative Information Found During the Background Check
  • Informing Your Employee of their Rights concerning any Negative Information Found During the Background Check 
  • Outlining How any Information Obtained is Stored and Who has Access

  • Communicate Your Re-Screening Policy
The number one thing you need to do is to be Open and Honest about your Re-Screening Policy.  Your employees will be much more likely to accept and understand the need to re-screen when you clearly communicate why you have made it part of your policy. 

Anything you can do to put your employees at ease with the entire process should be done.

Despite this, you still may encounter negativity concerning re-screening.  Any time employees feel their honesty and integrity is being questioned, it can have an impact on the work environment.

You must keep communications open between yourself, your manager, and your employees.  Be willing to listen to their concerns.  

But, most importantly, you need to be sure to explain that your main reason is the continued safety of not only your company but also your employees.  


Be clear on exactly how the re-screen will be done and who will have access to the information obtained.

This can go a long way in alleviating any fears and concerns your employees may have.

Re-screening your current employees is a sound way to practice your due diligence and to protect your small business.  It helps mitigate the risk of retaining an unsafe employee that has contact with your other employees, your clients, and may gain increased access to your company assets and sensitive information. 

In the end, once you know 
the Pros and Cons of re-screening, 
it is then up to you to make an informed decision as to whether it makes sense 
for your business 
(and a good background check company 
can help!).

Authored by   





with your Pre and Post Employment Screening Questions!  We will help you create a sound policy that addresses your unique needs and your bottom line!


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*Source1:Learn more about the EEOC’s stance on Employment Background Checks here!

*Source2: $1.6M lesson: Think Twice about Re-Screening Current Workers


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