TMCnet Feature
September 09, 2020

What You Can Do If Your Employee Refuses a Background Check



While carrying out background checks is standard practice in many organizations (over 90 % of employers carry out, at least, one form of screening checks), only a few do background checks on current employees.

But in recent years, employers are beginning to realize that background checks are supposed to be a routine exercise considering people’s behavior and circumstances do change. Therefore, an increasing number of employers are adopting routine background checks especially during reassignment, retention, promotion, or just part of the annual routine.



The Need for Consent

Before HR managers can carry out background checks on applicants, they have to give written consent. The same is true of current employees. It is illegal to carry out background checks without getting the consent of employees.

To get around this, employers sometimes incorporate routine background checks into their employment offer. That way, the employee is indefinitely giving their consent to their employers to carry out background checks.

However, they may choose to rescind their consent. And in some jurisdictions, employers may be required by law to seek consent before any background check is carried out.

When current employees refuse to give their consent, it’s usually a difficult position for HR managers.

Why Employees Refuse Background Checks.

There are two main reasons why a current employee may refuse screening checks.

  • They have something to hide

Some applicants who lied in the job application may have slipped through the cracks. Now, they might refuse to rescreen because they don’t want to get caught. Moreover, people evolve. A person with a clean criminal record at the point of employment may have engaged in a serious offense later on. A new criminal history check may threaten to uncover their recent crimes. In an attempt to prevent that from happening, they may refuse a background check.

  • They see it as an invasion of privacy

Some employees are not cool with the idea of having their confidential personal information held by a third party. They may see it as an invasion of privacy. That’s why rescreening must be carried out as laid out by local employment laws to avoid infringing on employees’ rights.

What Employers Can Do

Employers have a responsibility to protect themselves and their workplace from workplace violence, theft, and vandalism. Therefore, routine background checks are non-negotiable. There’s what employers can do in difficult situations.

  • Understand the Employee’s concerns

Employers should try to see why an employee is refusing a background check. If it’s about privacy concerns, they should lay out how their confidential information will remain confidential.

  • Have a Background Check Policy in Place

Having a clear screening check policy in place is extremely important.

It should inform new employees that background checks like a national police check are a standard routine in the company, and it should state when it will be carried out. That way, new employees know exactly what to expect down the line.

Furthermore, the policy should be clear on the consequences of refusing a background check. If an employee refuses a background check, the company will not be held liable for thinking the worst. If continued employment is contingent on employees undertaking background checks, then an employer has the right to terminate their appointment.



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