Are Background Checks Required for Employment?

Are Background Checks Required for Employment?

In the current employment landscape, the question “Are background checks required for employment?” is frequently posed by businesses seeking a new background screening provider. Prospective clients often look for a service that is not only comprehensive and compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and local and state laws but also fast and affordable. This article aims to explore the necessity and benefits of background checks from this perspective.

The Importance of Background Checks for Employers

While not universally mandated by law for all types of employment, background checks are increasingly recognized as a critical step in the hiring process. They serve as a proactive measure for employers to ensure workplace safety, integrity, and compliance. Here are three statistics that underscore the importance of conducting background screenings:

  1. Safety and Security: Over 85% of employers cite enhancing workplace safety as a key reason for conducting background checks (National Association of Professional Background Screeners).
  2. Quality of Hire: Approximately 77% of employers say that background screening has resulted in better quality hires (Professional Background Screening Association).
  3. Negligent Hiring Litigation: Employers who fail to conduct background checks may face negligent hiring lawsuits, which can cost upwards of $1 million in settlements (Society for Human Resource Management).

These statistics highlight the significant role that background checks can play in mitigating risks and improving the overall hiring process.

How Background Checks Work

Background checks involve a detailed investigation into an applicant’s past, covering various aspects to provide a comprehensive view of their background. Common components include:

  • Social Security Trace: Confirms the applicant’s identity and traces their address history.
  • Sex Offender Search: Checks for any registrations on national sex offender databases.
  • Criminal Records: Searches for any criminal history across county, state, and federal levels.
  • Driving Records: Reviews the individual’s driving history for violations or suspensions.
  • Verifications: Validates the applicant’s employment history, educational background, and any professional licenses.

The Steps of the Background Check Process

The background check process typically follows these steps:

  1. Consent: Begins with obtaining the candidate’s consent, which is a legal requirement under the FCRA.
  2. Collection and Verification: Involves collecting information from various sources and verifying its accuracy.
  3. Analysis: The data is analyzed, and a comprehensive report is compiled.
  4. Reporting: The findings are reported back to the employer, adhering to all relevant privacy and discrimination laws.

Background checks usually look back seven years, although this can vary depending on the position and local laws.

What Typically Shows Up in the Results?

The results of a background check can include a wide range of information, such as criminal records, employment history, educational background, and any discrepancies between the information provided by the applicant and what was discovered during the check. This comprehensive overview aids employers in making informed hiring decisions.


To revisit the initial question, “Are background checks required for employment?”—while not always a legal requirement, they are an essential best practice for any organization committed to safety, quality, and compliance. Background checks help mitigate risk, improve the quality of hires, and protect against negligent hiring litigation.

For businesses in search of a dependable background screening partner, EDIFY Background Screening offers the expertise, technology, and compliance knowledge to conduct efficient and affordable investigations. We encourage you to reach out and learn how we can support your hiring process. Partnering with a qualified consumer reporting agency like EDIFY ensures that your background screening process is thorough, compliant, and tailored to meet your specific needs.

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