The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a new guide last month on employment background checks. The guide, titled “Background Checks: Tips For Job Applicants and Employees” aims to educate both existing employees and job-seekers on their legal rights regarding employment background checks.
The brief 10-page guide offers a source of reference for workers, job-seekers and employees alike. The truth is that most people are completely oblivious to their rights during the job interview/recruitment process. They simply ‘trust’ the employer to do the right thing, but in reality the employer could be breaking the law. The FTC’s new guide aims to create greater transparency between what’s legal and what’s not with job requirements.
One of the key takeaways from the FTC’s guide is that employers are required by law to ask existing employees and job-seekers for permission before obtaining a background check. This isn’t a new law by any means, but it’s something that many people are unaware of. According to the guide, the employer must ask the applicant/employee if he or she is willing to give a background check, and that information from the background check may be used to make a hiring decision.
The FTC also states that employees and job-seekers are required to give written permission to their respective employer for the employer to obtain a background check. Just because a job applicant tells the employer that he or she can acquire an employment background check doesn’t make it legal. The applicant must give the employer permission in writing before the employer can legally obtain a background check.
This isn’t the first guide background screening guide released by the FTC. Back in March, the FTC released “Background Checks: What Job Applicants and Employees Should Know.” While the two guides have different titles, along with different content, they both cover the same topic of employment-related background checks. The first guide provides more reference sources and helpful links, however, while the second guide is more targeted towards the specific legal rights of employees and job-seekers.
“Some employers check into your background before deciding whether to hire you or keep you on the job. When they do a employment background check, you have legal rights under federal law. Depending on where you live, your city or state may offer additional protections. It’s important to know whom to contact if you think an employer has broken the law related to background checks, and an equally good idea to check with someone who knows the laws where you live, wrote the FTC’s in Background Checks: Tips For Job Applicants and Employees.
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