Nuggets of Insight
|Over the years, screening practices have changed for several reasons, according to the Statscan study, including:
Among the other results of the study:
Canadian employers are increasingly running security checks on new hires. In fact, more job applicants are being subjected to that type of screening than medical exams.
Statistics Canada compared hiring practices over a 20-year period and found that before 1980, about 25 percent of people underwent a medical examination, while only five per cent underwent a security check. By 2000 and 2001, the proportion that had undergone a security check had doubled to 12 per cent, most notably among individuals applying for positions in teaching, health care, law enforcement and information technology.
Meantime, the proportion undergoing medical exams dropped to 11 per cent. (See right-hand box for more results of the recent study based on the Workplace and Employee Survey.)
Of course, hiring decisions aren’t always based on intense screening. In some instances, finding the right person for the job is a simple matter of an interview and a test of knowledge or skills.
But more rigorous screening may be required for other positions. For example, drug tests for pilots or truck drivers, health exams for fire fighters and security checks for bank tellers and information technology staff.
As an employer, you have a duty to check backgrounds for the sake of your customers, other employees and investors. In addition, solid background checking practices can help decrease employee turnover and the costs of hiring, training and internal fraud.
In Canada, background checks are generally legal as long as they comply with:
Background assessments are also legal provided they are not influenced by race, religion or ethnicity and all applicants to a similar position are treated equally.
With that in mind, it is essential that everyone in your company follow a consistent hiring process. Discrepancies in the process can lead to damaging risks such as negligent hiring suits and dishonest workers’ compensation claims.
Consider a hiring reference guide for managers that includes interviewing techniques, employment screening policies and lists of questions that can and cannot be asked.
Your company’s reference guide can also include red flags that may be uncovered during a background check. Here are some guidelines for handling the following eight red flags when considering applicants:
1. Previous Employment
Try to get references from three to five previous employers. But keep in mind that if you ask for references and don’t check them, you risk liability. In cases when it was reasonably necessary to check references and an employer failed to do so, courts have held the employer liable for the improper acts of the employee.
2. A Criminal Record
You can check past criminal activity by contacting local police or law enforcement agencies, but you must have the candidate sign a release to obtain the information. You cannot, however, deny a position because of:
3. Driving Record
6. Professional Licences and Credentials
7. Social Insurance Number (SIN)/ Address
8. Credit Report
A problematic credit history may be inappropriate for employees in certain positions. You can conduct credit checks but you are required by law to notify applicants or current employees in writing and provide the name of the consumer reporting agency.