Monday, April 3, 2017

Pending Charges ~ Why You Need to Consider them Before Hiring

Imagine this… have found someone you think will be a perfect fit for your company and the job. They have all the right qualifications and they interviewed well. And while you have no reason to think you will find anything negative, it is time to start the background check process to make sure.

That is when it happens. 
While checking the courts for a 
criminal history, you find a case. 
But instead of it being closed, 
it is an active case. 
There is no disposition. No sentence. 
What do you do?

This exact scenario has happened to me many times, and it may have even happened to you. 

Whether you are an employer, or a background check company, it is important that you have a plan in place to deal with this situation.

When it comes to criminal history, the usual best practice is to consider convictions, not arrests, when making your employment decision. Arrests do not determine guilt, so it makes sense they should not be part of the hiring equation.

When you have evidence of a conviction (especially those verified through a quality background check company), you know the record is that of the applicant and you know the outcome of the case. Only then can you make a truly fair and informed determination of the applicant’s suitability for the job”, excerpt from “Why Checking an Applicant’s Criminal Past Should be About Convictions, Not Arrests!”.

But with a pending or active case, there is no such determination of guilt.

So what is an employer or 
background check company to do?

This is where a well thought out plan of action is invaluable.

I believe in the employer’s right to know. That is why my practice is to include pending and active cases in my background check reports.   

Despite there not being a final decision, 
pending charges can impact the employer 
(my client), their company, and 
their other employees.

For example, there is likely to be one or more scheduled dates where your applicant will have to appear in court. If hired, they would need to take this time off.

If your new hire is simply found not guilty, or the charges are dropped or withdrawn, time off for court may be as far as it goes.

However, there is also the possibility they will be found guilty. What then? 

If they are sentenced to jail time, you will have to start the entire hiring process all over ~ wasting the time and money you spent in vetting and training your new hire. 

Even if granted probation, or a sentence requiring county or state sponsored rehabilitation programs, your hire will most likely miss work to fulfill this part of their sentence. This is also a drain on your finances and on the other employees who must cover your absent employee’s work.

However, if you as an employer 
were unaware of the pending case, 
you would have hired blind 
to these possibilities. 
That is why reporting pending and active cases is so important.

But what if, despite knowing of these open charges, you still want to hire this applicant?

Then hiring them on a conditional basis may be a good idea. Your employee could then be placed on a probationary status pending the final outcome of the case.

You will also have the opportunity to "pre-plan" how you will handle possible absences due to their court case obligations.

On the positive side, you will also be giving someone with a troubled past a second chance. Face it, people make mistakes. Being solely defined by those mistakes, however, serves no one..

That is why it is important to 
balance cautiousness with fairness. 

Employers must continue screening their potential hires to protect themselves, their company, and their employees. But if a criminal past is found, that is when we have the opportunity to make a difference.

Find out more about safely hiring ex-offenders in, “Once a Criminal, Always a Criminal ~ Why We Need to Believe in Second Chances”.

The key here is going in with your eyes wide open and fully aware of the potential outcomes when the case is finally decided.

The bottom line ~ 
Employers have every right to know 
all the relevant information there is to know about their applicants before they hire
And that includes any pending or active cases. Hiring without this knowledge 
can put you at a disadvantage 
and cost you time and money in the long run.

Once again, Knowledge is Power!

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