Can a Recruiter Share My Background Check Information?
Recruiters use background checks to evaluate whether a candidate is a good fit for the position.
These checks provide essential information about an applicant’s past employment history, credentials, criminal record, credit history, and more.
That said, if you get denied a job, you may be wondering if a recruiter can share your background check information. With laws and regulations behind accessing information, it’s important to understand your rights.
In this post, you’ll learn all about background checks and whether employers can share their results.
Understanding the Sharing of Background Checks
Organizations use Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) background checks conducted by third-party agencies to collect applicant information. When a prospect fails the check, employers must provide an explanation.
With the threat of privacy and discrimination, it’s important to know the rights that the employee or candidate has – which includes a right to privacy.
There may be times when another party has an interest in the results of an employee’s background check, such as a client or customer. However, it’s important to be in compliance with all laws.
For example, staffing agencies send employees to work for other organizations. Those organizations may have an interest in an employee’s background check, but no employer is able to share that information with a third party without written consent from the employee.
In this case, the company that’s hiring the worker can require that they go through an additional background check. They may want to do this anyway in order to fill any gaps the staffing agency’s background check may have had.
Another option is for the staffing agency to obtain written authorization from employees, allowing them to share information from background checks with clients.
The Role of Authorization in Sharing Background Checks
The first step to performing a background check is to get proper consent. Employers must notify the candidate that they’ll be conducting various screening processes and will need an authorized signature from the candidate to start.
Some states require a job offer prior to ordering a background check, so some employers will extend the job offer first and make the offer contingent on a cleared background check.
Getting consent gives candidates complete transparency and an opportunity to opt out of the application process if they’re uncomfortable.
From the employer’s perspective, organizations protect themselves from potential liability issues. If a candidate later claims that the background check was conducted without their permission or knowledge, they could face lawsuits and penalties. Thus, signed consent forms serve as evidence that due diligence was followed.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act and Employee Rights
Many employers will choose to run comprehensive background checks on potential employees. Employers may consider the information found in the vetting process when making hiring decisions, but they must comply with federal laws, which help protect applicants from discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and age.
Particularly, as a recruiter, you must follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA is a federal law that regulates how organizations collect and use consumer information. It ensures certain rules that ensure fair and equal treatment to candidates.
Job candidates and employees also have the right to dispute the decision, especially if they believe the information in the report is inaccurate.
They must gather supporting evidence and file a dispute in writing with the FCRA. In addition, they can bring the dispute to the background check agency. Many agencies have online portals where employees can send them a dispute letter addressing their concerns.
Scenarios Where Background Checks Might Be Shared
There are many instances where background checks are shared. As a recruiter, it’s important to know the laws surrounding background checks to provide full transparency throughout the process.
Since there’s sensitive information that shows up in background checks, they can only be shared in specific instances such as:
- Internal Departments: The results may be shared internally only with parties involved in the hiring process, such as hiring managers, HR personnel, and, in some cases, legal and compliance teams.
- Candidates: Recruiters are required to share specific information from screening with the job candidate if adverse action is taken.
- Employees During Promotions: When an existing employee is being considered for promotion, the results of the new background check may be shared with decision-makers.
Best Practices for Sharing Background Check Information
It all starts with getting written consent from employees. Proper preparation is needed before any checks.
If you’re an employer, it’s essential to ensure that you conduct your background checks properly. You must receive authorization from the candidate before screening begins.
Make sure to clearly state the purpose and the specific types of background checks you’ll be conducting, which may include:
- Criminal background checks
- Education verification checks
- Credit checks
- Drug tests
- Reference checks
- And others
Make sure to follow federal and state regulations, as some states may limit the type of background checks you’re allowed to perform for employment screening.
When sharing background check results, keep the information confidential to protect the candidate’s privacy. You should inform them about the results, whether it’s positive or negative, and give an explanation for the hiring decision.
Allow them to ask questions or clarify any concerns they may have, and make sure you’re in compliance with all relevant laws and rules.
Job candidates have the right to know they’re being judged partly based on their background information.
Thus, they should understand their rights and know how to navigate the situation in case of adverse action.
Employers must comply with all federal laws to ensure proper authorization, written notice, and transparent explanation in case they decide to deny the candidate based on the background check report.
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