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Background Checks

September 2010

HR Mastery Groups

2011 is the 5th year that I’m facilitating monthly HR Mastery Groups. HR Mastery is your opportunity to learn from your peers as well as from our guest presenters on a wide variety of HR topics and issues you’re facing today.

Each group has 8-12 human resource professionals who commit to a one-year membership of 12 two-hour monthly meetings. There’s a wide variety of experience, companies, and industries in each group which enhances your opportunity for learning.

Of course, there’s a wide variety of people and personalities in each group, which makes each meeting lots of fun as we confidentially help each other with the unique situations we find ourselves in as HR professionals.

Additionally as part of the membership, each person has access to my HRxpress hotline services and can call or email me with particular HR concerns as they occur. So you don’t have to wait for the next meeting for answers to a timely issue.

Also during the month the members email each other with requests for information, forms, tools, and resources. Typically, another member has already developed that form or has the name of a great resource who can help you.

If you’re interested in learning more about this great opportunity to learn from and with your peers, check out the description on my website HR Mastery Groups or call me at 952-996-0975

Groups will be starting in January, so the sooner you sign up, the sooner we can start planning the 2011 calendar!

If you know a storm is coming, prepare in advance. Discuss the options with staff before you find yourself in a tight situation. Have an emergency strategy for handling the work remotely, staggering schedules, closing down and catching up. When proactive is possible, that’s always your best solution.

If you’re not
having fun
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human resources,
call Arlene today
at 952-996-0975


It’s All in the Detail

Background checks are being utilized more and more as employers attempt to learn more about their prospective employees than is revealed in an interview. As is expected, we have to tread lightly in this sensitive area and be sure we’re not discriminating when conducting background checks.

Step 1: Know if you are legally required to run background checks on your employees. For example, certain health care providers and facilities as well as residential organizations are required to check various background sources prior to hiring.

Step 2: If you’re not legally required to run background checks, determine whether you have sensitive positions where a background check would be useful. For example, it may be useful to conduct these checks on money-handling, accounting, security, and merchandise-handling positions.

Step 3: Determine whether you want a “do it yourself” approach or you want to hire an experienced firm to run those checks for you. There are pros and cons to consider – how much time you have to do it yourself, whether you have the budget to outsource, whether you want to create all your own forms and systems to ensure compliance, etc.

Step 4: Be sure that whatever you choose, you do it consistently. If you select a certain position to background check, run the check on the final candidate for all your searches for that position, so that you don’t appear discriminatory. Make sure you have all the legally required disclaimers and processes. Don’t wing it.

Step 5: Create a written protocol for how you conduct the checks, on what positions, at what stage of the hiring process, and include what offenses, if any, will result in disqualifying the candidate.

There’s so much more to consider than I’ve included here, but this should be a good starting point to determining whether and/or how to use background checks.

Copyright (c) 2010 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc.

Don’t be Adverse to Adverse Action

Years ago I met Donna Ploof from Trusted Employees and whenever I’m asked for a background check referral source, she’s the person I go to. Here are excerpts from an article she wrote on this important topic.

What do you do when a seemingly great candidate has some kind of negative information on their background report?

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when you rely on background reports and are considering withdrawing an offer of employment (known as an “adverse” action) because of negative information you have found on their background report, you are required to send the candidate an Adverse Action letter. While the negative information comes from a county courthouse, there could be a number of reasons why that information could be incorrect. For example, similar names and birth dates can confuse a good candidate with a criminal.

The Adverse Action letter is an easy way to let your applicant know there is something on their report which is inconsistent with your hiring guidelines. Along with the Adverse Action letter, a copy of the report is required to be sent along with the FCRA form, “Your Rights under the FCRA.” Through the letter, you give a short period of time for them to respond, usually 5 days. That allows ample time for the applicant to receive, review and respond.

Under the law, if you withdraw your offer of employment based on negative information in the background report, you could be legally liable. Your withdrawal on potentially wrong information without allowing the applicant to respond could be considered discrimination in the courts. So be careful.

Adverse Action letters are a very simple and easy step in the hiring process. They protect both the applicant and the company. While they may add a short period of time to the hiring process, it is time well spent. For more information or to get a copy of a sample adverse action letter, e-mail your request to dploof@trustedemployees.com.

Copyright (c) 2010 Arlene Vernon, HRx, Inc.

About Arlene Vernon

Arlene Vernon, PHR, partners with small businesses as their Human Resource Xpert to create their HR systems and solve their HR problems.

If you have gaps in your HR operation, have an employee problem to solve, or want to enhance your managers’ skills, call Arlene today. Learn
how HRx can save you time and help you avoid costly HR mistakes. HRx, Inc., 574 Prairie Center Drive #135/285, Eden Prairie, MN 55344, 952-996-0975,

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