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Employment History Check: How To Avoid Negligent Hiring


employment history check

As an employer, hiring the right individual can save time and money. Although finding a good employee can be tedious, once the process starts and individuals are seriously being considered, your human resources department should have an employment verification process in place.

What is employment verification?

According to the Business Dictionary, this is the practice of verifying the employment eligibility and past work history of current or potential employees. Most employers verify employment through an employment history check to corroborate the education, skill set and experience given by the applicant.

Why do employers go through the process of reference and employment checks?

Employee turnover can be costly. On average, replacing a salaried employee can cost between six to nine months. For someone making $40,000 per year, that is between $20,000 and $30,000 in recruitment alone. Add in the costs of advertising for a new employee, screening, and the hiring process. Once the employee is hired, there are on-boarding costs, and in most cases, some form of training. The money spent, and the productivity lost from that unfilled position quickly adds up. Employers go through this process to try and ensure they are hiring someone qualified and skilled enough where they can make an investment in their retention.

What is included in the employment verification process?

Every organization has different criteria, but there are a few standard employment verification questions that will include previous employment and a work history background check. It is important to get prior authorization from the applicant through written authorization. Employers should be selective in the information they request, and make sure it is relevant to the position they are hiring for. Some employment verification procedures include:

Letter confirming employment

An employer may send a letter to any employer provided by the applicant for written confirmation of the applicant’s tenure with the organization, their title and length of service. Even if a letter is provided, employers should also speak with references via phone. Every verification process should include the applicant's job duties, their title, dates of employment, salary (some companies will not verify this information), their eligibility for rehire, whether or not they were terminated, and the reason for their separation.

Verification background checks

An employer may use an outside service to conduct background checks on applicants. These background checks are detailed and thorough, including criminal history and in some cases, a consumer credit report. It is important to check verification sources to make sure they are authentic, keeping in mind disclosure laws in place based on the state of the applicant and their employment.

If an employment verification is done and there is something in background report that is questionable and leads to the company making a decision against hiring, the applicant must be provided a copy of the report. This not only helps the employer, but alerts the applicant in case this is erroneous information. Employers cannot use this information to discriminate against applicants in the areas of race, sex, religion, national origin, genetic information, age, or disability.

In some instances, previous employers are not available to verify employment. The employee can use a W-2 to show their history with the company, proving they were a part of that organization, and the dates of their tenure. If the candidate does not have access to that previous W-2, there are steps they can follow on how to get their W-2 from previous employer.

How to find exact dates of employment

In order to fully check job history, the candidate should provide accurate dates of employment. Many employers obtain this information using a background check, which pulls records from a number of sources, including state unemployment agencies. With a 27% discrepancy rate in employment histories, this is an important element in ensuring your candidate is the right one for your organization.

As a final step, every newly hired employee is required to prove they are legally able to work in the United States. Employers must verify this information through the use of an I-9 form, which must be kept on file. Although employment verification may be viewed as a tedious process, the time and effort put forth to ensure you hire employees that are worth the investment is invaluable. Taking the right steps the first time aids in the employment verification process, helping avoid negligent hiring.

Your human resources team should know and understand the process, even when working with an outside recruiting agency to make sure all objectives are aligned for a smooth transition.



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