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Should Your Company Run Periodic Background Checks on Its Employees?


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9/23/2014
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Although people who work directly with children must often submit to routine background checks -- along with healthcare workers and government security employees -- most American workers have been spared this hassle after first being hired. Yet nowadays, this practice is becoming much more common since many employers are eager to prevent or limit all possible future legal liabilities.        

Why Screenings of Current Employees Can Prove Truly Useful                                       

Suppose you’re currently pleased with the work your regular bookkeeper is doing for your company and have no qualms about placing complete trust in this person to handle all of your company’s daily banking tasks. Yet what if a new background check informed you that she was recently placed on probation for floating a number of “hot” checks? Wouldn’t you want to know this information sooner rather than later?

Likewise, many employers regularly ask workers to drive their products long distances and then stop and stock the shelves of numerous stores which buy from them. What if one or more of your drivers have developed serious alcohol, illegal drug or health problems? Suppose those difficulties are causing him to disobey your safe driving rules, thereby putting others on the road at great risk of injury?

While little is publicly known about the Walmart truck driver who recently caused a serious accident with comedian Tracy Morgan’s limousine van, you can be sure Walmart and other companies are currently rethinking their policies on how frequently they check up on their drivers. After all, an employee who may have recently been arrested on a weekend DUI charge is surely not someone you want driving your company’s 18-wheeler, especially since the person’s drinking problem may still be out of control.                      

What’s Involved in Conducting New Tests on Current Employees?                        

What steps should you take if you want to start running new – or more frequent – background checks on employees? For starters, you should first speak with your Peachtree City business attorney about the proper way to proceed. There’s a good chance you’ll be advised to send out a memo to every worker, informing them of the new policy. Should anyone refuse to comply and resign, you may have dodged a bullet.                                                                                                                     

Here are some other questions to consider if you’d like to start running periodic background checks after first hiring employees.                                                                                           

Issues Involved with Scheduling More Frequent “Checks” and Other Testing    

Privacy issues. Be prepared for workers to raise their right to privacy since someone may try to take legal action to stop you from enforcing this type of new policy;

New requirements like this must be put in writing, indicating whether there will be any further advance warning. You’ll probably want to note your heightened concern for providing a safe work environment for everyone. Should you want to introduce new drug testing, speak with your Peachtree City business attorney first to learn how you should go about enforcing all new background checks and testing;

Discuss among the executive staff whether or not you’re going to run additional credit checks on employees. While these are often viewed as an accurate snapshot of a worker’s trustworthiness, many people were seriously damaged financially by the last recession and may be in arrears on payments due to circumstances far beyond their control – like the need to take in and support unemployed members of their extended family. Also, mistakes are often made in background checks, regardless of when they’re run;

New testing should be company-wide to avoid complaints about discrimination. If you just ask those working in your lowest-wage jobs to undergo drug testing or general criminal background checks, you may be leaving yourself open to serious legal problems;

Be prepared to interact reasonably – although consistently – with employees whose test results prove troublesome. Your attorney can inform you about the responses you may have to make in order to be fair to all of your employees.

To obtain help with handling all of your Georgia business planning needs, please contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith today.  You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.



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