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Holiday Hours of Operation

Christmas header.jpgWishing you a holiday season filled with prosperity, peace, and happiness. Thank you for continuing to choose A-Check Global to serve your background and drug screening needs.

Our hours of operation during the holidays are:

Friday, December 22: 6:00 am to 3:00 pm PST

Monday, December 25: Closed in observance of Christmas

Friday, December 29: 6:00 am to 3:00 pm PST

Monday, January 1: Closed in Observance of New Year’s Day

Drug collection facilities may also have adjusted hours during these times so applicants should contact their facility prior to visiting on these dates to confirm collection hours.

A-Check Global will return to full business operations on Tuesday, December 26 and January 2 respectively.

Warmest Regards,

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A-Check Global Awarded ISO 9001:2008 re-Certification

A-Check Global, an internationally recognized provider of employment background screening solutions, is proud to announce that audits covering every aspect of business operations have been successfully completed and A-Check Global has been awarded ISO 9001:2008 re-Certification.

 The ISO 9001:2008 quality management standard—developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)—is focused on ensuring businesses have regularly reviewed processes, procedures, and internal controls in place to ensure consistent delivery of quality service to its customers.

 A-Check Global has been ISO 9001:2008 Certified since 2006, illustrating its unwavering commitment to both its superior customer service and the integrity of its internal business practices.

 “Achieving ISO 9001:2008 Certification—as any business going through the process can attest—is as demanding as it is rewarding,” said Donald Shimizu, Executive Vice President. “This certification reflects an ongoing promise from everyone at A-Check Global to conduct business efficiently and ethically, to meet the needs of our customers by providing sound products and services, and to ensure business decisions are made with our clients in mind. We are honored to be recognized once again for our pledge to business quality.”

 

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DOT Use of Paperless Chain of Custody and Control Forms

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In 2015, the Department of Transportation (DOT) approved the use of Electronic Federal Chain of Custody and Control Forms, sometimes referred to as eCOCs or eCCFs.

In simple terms, it represents a virtual paper trail from here to there.

Think of it as a digital version—an “electronic paper trail”—of a traditional paper form, detailing every step on the journey taken during a human specimen test. This includes everything from collection to transfer, analysis, and reporting—all linked to a specific screening laboratory. Employers are required to provide this level of control documentation to every candidate undergoing a drug screen.

For DOT testing programs, the eCCF is also used to document final results reported to a Medical Review Officer (MRO).

The introduction of these electronic forms into the DOT testing environment has streamlined the drug screening process, reducing turnaround times by preventing delays in the transfer of documents and eliminating the need for employers, Medical Review Officers, and Third-Party Administrators to track down CCFs.

Errors are minimized and deadlines are easily met.

Short deadlines in the electronic Chain of Custody process, such as the collection facility’s responsibility to send the CCF to a Medical Review Officer (MRO) within 24-hours, are met more reliably than with the paper process. There are also many other important benefits:

  • The potential for data entry errors is reduced; information is entered into the system once, and the need to decipher handwritten information is eliminated.
  • Barcodes attached to every specimen accurately detail donor demographics.
  • Through approved locations with proper technology, donors can now provide an electronic signature.
  • Fatal flaws (fairly common problems that can jeopardize drug screen integrity) are minimized: missing signatures, inaccurate donor, employer, or collection facility information, etc.

Additionally, since drug tests can now be processed online, employers no longer need to order, store, or mail physical forms and no longer need to worry about using the correct federal or forensic form. Tracking a drug screen and staying up to date on its progress is now completed electronically.

If you have questions about your current screening program, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. A-Check Global’s team of dedicated professionals is available to help and provide friendly, accurate guidance. Give us a call today at 877-345-2021, or email support@acheckglobal.com.

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Employer (End User) Responsibility during Background Screening

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When an employer uses an applicant’s background information to make informed employment decisions, they must do so in compliance with a number of federal and regulatory laws in place to protect applicants from any type of discrimination. The “End User” legal responsibilities include:

  1. Establishing Permissible Purpose
  2. Disclosure and Authorization
  3. Evaluation; and
  4. Adverse Action Notification

Let’s take a deeper look at End User responsibilities based on Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) guidelines.

Permissible Purpose

According to the FCRA, the End User must have a legal permissible purpose for requesting a background screen report. End Users requesting background checks from A-Check Global do so under the legal permissible purpose of employment. The permissible purpose of employment maintains slightly different rules from other consumer report permissible purposes. Of these rules, the End User’s responsibility of Disclosure and Authorization is one of the most crucial requiring compliance.

Disclosure and Authorization

The End User must properly disclose that they will conduct a background screen—and subsequently will receive a background information report—in a document consisting solely of the Disclosure. Following this disclosure, the next required step is to obtain authorization from the applicant prior to processing their background screen. It is the End User’s responsibility to manage the forms they provide to applicants. These forms are often referred to as Disclosure and/or Authorization forms and provide the applicant with details pertaining to permissible purpose for conducting the background investigation, and their rights throughout the process. Disclosure and Authorization forms can typically be signed physically or electronically. However, your company or organization should always consult with your legal team to confirm you are utilizing the appropriate forms, and, if you are utilizing an electronic signature option, to ensure your system complies with the E-SIGN Act of 1999 and UETA requirements. For additional information about this responsibility, you may contact A-Check Global and we will provide information on utilizing A-Check Global’s pre-prepared forms. After disclosure and authorization, End Users must focus on evaluation.

Evaluation

Evaluating background screening results is the responsibility of each hiring company or organization. Your background screening agency is legally unable to evaluate the background screen and make hiring decisions. While agencies may adjudicate reports based on a pre-defined matrix supplied by the End User, the End User must review and evaluate each report, prior to making a hiring decision, in order to maintain compliance.

The EEOC states that End Users perform the following steps when utilizing background information in making a hiring decision:

  • Apply the same standards to everyone, regardless of their race, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), or age.
  • Take special care when basing employment decisions on background problems that may be more common among people of a protected class.
  • Be prepared to make exceptions for problems revealed during a background check that were caused by a disability.

In the event that an evaluation yields a negative result, employers must participate in the adverse action process.

Adverse Action

Whenever Adverse Action is taken based on background screening results, the End User must notify the candidate. For instance, if you do not hire an individual based on criminal records located during the background screening process, you must supply the candidate with a pre-adverse notification followed by a final adverse notification.

The pre-adverse notification will afford the candidate the opportunity to dispute the findings on their report. It should provide details about the agency that completed the report, including the contact information to be used should the candidate wish to file a dispute. The Final Adverse Notification should be sent within a reasonable timeframe after the pre-adverse notification. While there is no time frame specified by the FCRA, A-Check Global best practices suggest waiting at least five days before sending the final notification and continuing to hold the job open in any case where the applicant files a dispute.

Regulatory compliance plays a major role in the background screening process. There are many potential risks and liabilities associated with utilizing reports, and it is in your company or organization’s best interest to follow best practices, guidelines and regulations outlined by the FCRA and EEOC. As the End User of a consumer or investigative background screen report, you have a number of responsibilities and should remain proactive in maintaining an understanding of these responsibilities, at all times. And as always, if you have any questions you may contact us at 877-345-2021 or clientsupport@acheckglobal.com.

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A Fair Chance for Applicants – the Rise of Ban the Box Legislation

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Welcome to the third blog in our CRAsh Course on consumer reporting. In this article, we continue to focus on changes implemented since the Great Recession by looking deeper into Ban the Box laws—fair hiring practices that put a candidate’s qualifications first by removing questions about criminal history.

A Fair Chance for Applicants – the Rise of Ban the Box Legislation

In our last article  we discussed how the Great Recession drove lawmakers to place limits on the use of credit reports in consumer reporting. This time, we look into Ban the Box laws which also gained popularity toward the end of the economic crisis.

Prior to the Great Recession, Hawaii was the only state with Ban the Box legislation in place. Since 2009, twenty-eight additional states have enacted some form of statewide Ban the Box policy. In states without Ban the Box laws, cities and counties have enacted their own regulations.

During the crisis, high rates of unemployment led to increased competition between applicants. As a result, many people admitting to a criminal record on their application were immediately disregarded without any consideration for previous work history, or received no thoughtful analysis of how their criminal record affected their ability to perform job duties.

To combat this, Ban the Box regulations were designed to give people with a criminal record a better chance at gaining employment. By forcing employers to wait until an interview has taken place, or until a job offer has been made, proponents of these laws believe people with convictions have a better shot at getting a job.

Recently, the effectiveness of these laws has come into question; however, states continue to enact legislation banning employers from asking for conviction history during the application process. In 2017 alone, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Utah had laws “banning the box” go into effect.

Employee rights organizations, like the National Employment Law Project (NELP), also feature Ban the Box laws prominently in their platforms. Support for the laws appears alongside topics covered extensively by the media, such as the $15 minimum wage movement, and furthering rights for “gig” workers like Uber drivers.

Remaining Compliant and Best Practices

The patchwork rollout of Ban the Box regulations can make compliance with these laws daunting. 29 states and 150 municipalities have enacted Ban the Box regulations for at least some employees. Nine states have Ban the Box laws in place for all employees. There is currently no federal law affecting private companies. This makes creating nationwide best practices difficult.

It is important for employers to know the laws of their jurisdiction, or the jurisdictions where they have hiring locations. This list, completed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), has information on all states and municipalities with Ban the Box laws in effect. It can help you determine if your company is in a jurisdiction with a Ban the Box law.

As the laws vary, often times even from city to city, even smaller businesses with only a few offices could have different requirements from one location to the next. To simplify their processes, many companies like Walmart, Target and Home Depot, have enacted companywide Ban the Box policies. You may wish to go this route as well.

Estimates show that nearly two-thirds of employees live in an area with a Ban the Box policy in place, so it’s likely you’re already working in a jurisdiction with Ban the Box legislation. To ensure compliance, your application and hiring processes should be reviewed by a legal or HR professional. It’s also a good idea to periodically review your policies against current law and make updates when needed.

If you are not in a jurisdiction with Ban the Box laws in place, best practice is to remain updated on potential regulations that could go into effect. Subscribing to Human Resource oriented blogs and Google Alerts related to Ban the Box can be a simple, inexpensive way to stay informed.

Contracting with a background screening company committed to compliance—like A-Check Global—can also help you remain compliant with these laws. As many background screening companies host the application or applicant consent process for their clients, they are also often responsible for complying with Ban the Box.

For more information about this topic, or to discuss information on consumer reporting, feel free to contact us at connect@acheckglobal.com.

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The Impact of Marijuana Legalization

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The growing number of legalized marijuana states indicates a public perception shift of marijuana’s role in their communities. Many states have legalized the use of medical marijuana for patients with chronic or severe medical diagnoses, but many states are also starting to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, creating an issue for employers who are now unsure whether they are legally allowed to continue screening applicants and employees for marijuana use.

Does marijuana legislation protect employers?

More than half of the drug testing laws passed in 2016 were directly related to marijuana regulation, and a large percentage of the current regulation revolving around marijuana is heavily favored toward employer and business protection.

Currently, California regulation (Health and Safety Code – HSC, 11362.45) states, “Nothing in section 11362.1 shall be construed or interpreted to amend, repeal, affect, restrict, or preempt: … (f) The rights and obligations of public and private employers to maintain a drug and alcohol free workplace … or affect the ability of employers to have policies prohibiting the use of marijuana by employees and prospective employees, or prevent employers from complying with state of federal law.” This allows employers in California to continue drug screening their employees and applicants in order to maintain their zero-tolerance marijuana policies.

Additionally, Florida’s regulations (Chapter 381, Public Health – General Provisions) also protect employers from many of the issues surrounding marijuana legalization: “Nothing in this section shall require any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any… place… of employment…”

The debate over consumption, safety, and workplace issues.

Some believe since recreational marijuana is now legal in a growing number of states, businesses should no longer be able to screen or reprimand employees for drug use, often drawing parallels between marijuana and alcohol effects. In business practice this does raise questions, as a substantial amount of research currently supports risk associated with marijuana consumption.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the potency of marijuana has risen by a factor of three in the last 30 years. This increase, coupled with the recent legalization movements, has caused numerous agencies from marijuana-legal states to report severe increases in public safety hazards.

Following the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in Colorado, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area; an organization governed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy; whose goal is to facilitate cooperation and coordination against drug trafficking in areas surrounding Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming; have reported the following conclusions:

  • Traffic fatalities involving operators testing positive for marijuana have increased 100 percent from 2007 to 2012
  • The majority of driving-under-the-influence arrests involve marijuana and 25 to 40 percent were marijuana alone
  • There has been a 16 percent increase in toxicology reports showing positive marijuana driving-under-the-influence results
  • 57 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits from 2011 through 2013
  • 82 percent hospitalization increase from 2008 to 2013

This evidence strongly supports the hazards irresponsible marijuana use can cause. The cognitive impairment that marijuana imposes on the user produces a substantial risk for any employee operating or working near heavy machinery.

It also has a significant impact on a person’s ability to perform basic work functions. In a recent study, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) stated that “recent cannabis use impairs the performance in cognitive domains of learning, memory, and attention” with “recent use” being defined as a 24-hour period.

There are also other major costs that employers may incur from employees who are regularly using marijuana that are related to insurance and healthcare expenses. NAS has also found that smoking marijuana on a regular basis is associated with chronic cough and may be linked to greater mental health symptoms for people suffering from bipolar disorders.

Legislation is evolving and ongoing.

There have already been more than 20 bills introduced in the post-2016 election regarding the regulation and legalization of marijuana. The landscape of marijuana legislation is likely to continue to push in favor of legalization, making the importance of developing an effective drug-free workplace policy and having an effective drug screening program a critical business decision for your organization.

If you have questions about developing a drug-free policy, or about your current screening program, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. A-Check Global’s team of dedicated professionals are available to help, and can provide friendly, accurate guidance. Give us a call today at 877-345-2021, or email support@acheckglobal.com.

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A little background on background screening

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What is a Background Screen?

A Background Screen is a process—actually, a legal investigative search—to compile past information, including criminal, employment, education, credit records, etc. of an individual for the purpose of helping an organization make employment decisions.

One might think that it’s perfectly fine to just gather information from online public sources. Simply put, it’s not. Employers—and background screening providers—have to abide by laws and regulations that minimize risk to the employer, while also protecting candidates from discrimination. Companies should implement formal background screens to help keep their clients, employees and business safe.

Performing background screens help keep companies safe and minimize risk by verifying and reporting historical information, all while ensuring candidates are who they say they are.

How does the screening process work?

Prior to performing a background screen, the candidate must supply written consent and both the candidate and company must understand and acknowledge rights under FCRA guidelines. This “Authorization for Background Investigation” form is how A-Check Global receives and verifies the candidate’s acknowledgment and authorization to conduct a background screen on the company’s behalf.

A common misconception of the background screening process is that a comprehensive report can be completed and presented within 24 hours or less. In reality, a team of trained professionals work seamlessly together, utilizing both electronic and manual processes to gather the most current and accurate information available.

An average background screen usually takes 2-5 days to complete. However, there are variables that can impact the timeline, such as insufficient or incomplete information provided by the candidate, or the type of screen component(s) requested. Take for example, a county criminal search which can be a lengthy effort depending on where the county is located and on the county resources available to provide information to A-Check.

Let’s take a look at screen components.

Typically, an employer will ask for fairly common types of pre-employment screens: a Social Security Trace, Criminal History Records, Employment History and Education Verification, and perhaps Motor Vehicle Records, Credit Reports, and Drug Screening.

The Social Security Trace can aid in validating the candidate’s identity. It can be used to uncover previous address history and even alias names affiliated with a social security number.

Sources of criminal history records include: county, statewide, and federal criminal records, the national criminal locater database and state and national sex offender registries.

Employment verification requirements—how much historical information is requested—tends to vary from client to client, and A-Check Global tailors this search to meet the employer’s business needs.

Education verifications validate an applicant’s high school, college, or trade school diplomas and degrees.

State laws vary regarding retention of driving records. Generally, this search will reveal the candidate’s 3-5 year driving history and may provide insight into any potential areas of concern.

A-Check Global’s substance abuse testing programs aid in protecting employers from the negative effects of workplace drug and alcohol abuse. Our services include a complete range of drug testing, alcohol screening and medical screening management for both regulated and unregulated industries.

Reviewing the results.

Once a background screen is complete, the employer can review the results and make an informed employment decision based on this information. Keep in mind that using this information for hiring decisions must be done in compliance with Federal and state regulations including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Likewise, candidates must have ample opportunity to review their completed background report if requested prior to the screen, and dispute any specific items they question.

If you’re tasked with analyzing your current screening program, or just have questions about your background screening process, we would welcome the opportunity to be part of that conversation. A-Check Global’s team of dedicated professionals are available to help, and can provide friendly, accurate guidance. Give us a call today at 877-345-2021, or email support@acheckglobal.com.

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The Great Recession of 2008 and its Impact on Credit Reporting

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Welcome to the second Blog article in our CRAsh Course on Credit Reporting. In this article, we’ll focus on the lasting impact a changing financial landscape can have on credit reporting legislation.

It’s 2017—nearly a decade since the Great Recession ended—and while things have recovered for many people financially, the lasting effects of the catastrophic financial event continue to be felt by some.

Due to more than 7 million foreclosures and the high rate of unemployment during, and shortly after the recession, a large percentage of the US population has negative information on their credit reports caused directly by the economic downturn.

To ensure those who experienced financial stress during the Great Recession could continue pursuing employment opportunities, important—and popular—regulations were implemented to limit the use of credit reports on pre-employment background screens.

Legislation now defines when and how credit reports can be used for employment decisions

11 states and the District of Colombia have placed regulations on the use of credit screens when hiring. Additionally, while there’s no law CURRENTLY in place, Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights recommends that a credit check is only done when money handling is an essential job function.

In states where no laws are in place, cities have stepped in to limit use of credit reports when making a hiring decision. Philadelphia and New York both have these rules in place.

These laws are fairly common sense. They typically bar employers from analyzing an applicant’s credit history unless the position deals significantly with money. Money handlers, accountants, managers and other financial positions are usually exempt from protection under the law.

Even when hiring in a state with no limits on credit reports, it is recommended that credit is only reviewed for individuals with significant access to finances. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that “An employer must not have a financial requirement if it does not help the employer to accurately identify responsible and reliable employees . . .

While you may argue that knowing your new stock person or receptionist’s money handling abilities gives you a better idea of their potential to be a reliable employee, the candidate and EEOC may argue differently and claim the process is discriminatory. Even if you’re right, battling this in court costs time, money, and stress that’s easily avoided by simply limiting credit screening to personnel with financial responsibilities.

Let’s make sure best practices are in place

To mitigate risk in your employment decisions, add these rules to your screening program:

  1. Credit reports are only conducted on candidates with significant monetary responsibilities
  2. Your screening policy includes detailed information on why credit reports are used
  3. Separate screening policies are in place for money handling and non-money handling positions
  4. Background screens are conducted the same way for all candidates based on their position
  5. Your legal team has reviewed screening policies for compliance with state and federal guidelines

Another way to help ensure compliance to ongoing changes in legislation is to utilize the services of a background screening company—like A-Check Global—with a robust compliance department. As a trusted business partner, we review our clients’ screening policies, ensure services are not being conducted in violation of regulations, track legal changes, and suggest policy updates when new rules are put in place.

For more information about this topic feel free to contact us at connect@acheckglobal.com. We welcome the opportunity to speak with you.

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The What and Why of Adverse Action Notices

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When information contained in an A-Check Global background check is used wholly or in part by a requester to deny employment to an applicant, a specific process must be followed to comply with the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This process affords the applicant an opportunity to review their background report and dispute any specific information, if deemed inaccurate.

We’re here to help!

As your trusted partner, A-Check Global developed an Employment Screening Adverse Communication Kit to assist clients (end users of consumer reports) with regulatory responsibilities in accordance with FCRA Section 604(b)(3)(A). This kit helps save time, minimizes paperwork, and recommends a timeline to ensure applicants receive their pre-adverse notifications in a timely manner and are given a reasonable period to review results before final adverse notification is provided.

This kit contains two documents: (1) a pre-adverse communication/applicant response form, and (2) a final adverse action letter. Please consult with your Corporate HR as you follow the Instructions to create your company’s compliance documents.

Please also keep in mind, A-Check Global is not providing legal advice or counsel, thus our kit should not be deemed as such. Consult with your legal counsel to ensure the final product conforms to the needs of your organization.

Use our 2-step process to remain compliant

To facilitate the Adverse process, simply use our sample templates, customize them to meet your business requirements, and then mail out the Pre-Adverse and Adverse Notice yourself. Or, give us a call—we would be happy to assist in managing this process on your behalf.

Note: It is vital to your organization to ensure that the Adverse Action two-step process is executed each time a decision not to hire or place an applicant is made based on the content of a background report.

To process a Self-Adverse notification:

  1. Provide the applicant the pre-adverse letter with response form and a copy of the report used to make the adverse decision. Prepare each letter by adding the applicant’s name and the Consumer Reporting Agency’s name and contact information. This letter is designed to provide the applicant the opportunity to dispute any inaccurate or missing information within the report.
  2. If the applicant does not respond to the pre-adverse letter after a reasonable period of time—A-Check recommends six [6] business days—follow up with the applicant by providing them the final adverse action letter. Again, it is very important to add and confirm the applicant’s name and Consumer Reporting Agencies contact information—ensuring the name of the Consumer Reporting Agency on the report and the name of the Consumer Reporting Agency on the letter match.

The applicant can then dispute the accuracy of the Consumer Report by going online at http://www.myacheck.com or they can email us or contact us directly.

Remember, we’re here to answer your questions regarding your Pre-Adverse and Adverse Notice program. Please feel free to call, email, or live chat us at acheckglobal.com.

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Message regarding Equifax

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Dear Customer,

By now, you’ve no doubt heard that on September 7, 2017, Equifax announced a cybersecurity incident involving U.S. consumer information. Equifax discovered the unauthorized access to certain data files and acted immediately to stop the intrusion. Additionally, they have conducted an ongoing and comprehensive forensic review of the intrusion, and are working closely with law enforcement.

We’ve been asked by customers for clarification regarding the data we receive from Equifax to facilitate A-Check background screening. We currently work with Equifax to receive candidate payroll information during employment verification inquiries. Candidate information we submit to make these inquiries is not stored or archived on Equifax databases.

As an organization that works closely with Equifax, please know we’ve been in close contact with them to gather information we can in turn pass along to you.

To date, Equifax reports they have found no evidence of unauthorized activity on Equifax’s core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases. In addition, they have found no evidence that this cybersecurity incident impacted Equifax’s core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases. This report is intended to also be inclusive of A-Check inquiry data.

If you have questions, we welcome your call or email. And of course, we’ll keep you updated with any further developments as we continue our communication with Equifax.

A-Check Global

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Understanding Drug Screen Reports

drug_test_92572931-56b08ae65f9b58b7d023ef47When speaking with our clients who routinely drug screen even high volumes of employees, we’re often asked questions about reading or deciphering drug screen results. That’s a good thing, because it shows our clients are as committed to making informed employment decisions as we are about providing accurate and compliant information.

Even experienced employers can benefit from some good advice

We’ve seen it all, but one of the more common areas to pay attention to within the Chain of Custody and Control Form (CCF) is the “Reason for Testing.” Employers might incorrectly mark this area, so it’s important to accurately choose one of the major reasons for testing to help minimize and overcome any recurring compliance risks. The reasons for testing listed on most non-federally regulated CCFs are:

  • pre-employment
  • random
  • reasonable suspicion
  • return-to-duty
  • promotion
  • follow-up testing

On every CCF document, a Specimen ID number will also be assigned. The location of the ID can vary from form to form, but can usually be located in the upper margins of the document. The Specimen ID is one of the most important parts of the drug screening process, as it ensures the integrity of the result remains true as it travels between locations.

Location, location, location

Location identification is often another area of confusion, since the complete process of a drug screen is not usually completed in one place.

The first step in the specimen testing process is the collection facility. This step is where the donor provides the initial sample to be shipped to and evaluated at the testing laboratory. The testing laboratory is where the initial positive or negative determination will be made. Once official results have been determined, the testing laboratory will then send non-negative – and all federally regulated – results to the Medical Review Officer (MRO). The MRO is responsible for evaluating medical health and prescriptions to determine any medically valid reasons for any non-negative results.

Understanding the results

After the MRO process, verified results are then made available to the employer. There are four sections that are typically outlined on a drug screen report:

  • substance abuse panel
  • initial test level
  • GC/MS confirmation test level
  • Determined result.

The “substance abuse panel” is the list of drugs that an applicant or employee was screened for. Understanding the “initial test” and “GC/MS” (Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) confirmation levels is where the process can get a little complicated.

Contrary to popular belief, these numbers do not indicate the level that the donor tested at. The initial test level is the threshold that the lab uses to determine negative or positive results. Any results that exceed the initial test level threshold are flagged as positive results.

Once a specimen has been flagged, a GC/MS confirmation test is performed to verify the positive reading. If the confirmation results meet or exceed the GC/MS confirmation levels that are outlined in this field, then the result is reported out to the MRO as a positive.

It is in this field that sub-testing will also be reported. Sub-testing is the practice of testing for different types of a drug category. The most common type of sub-testing is screening for methamphetamine inside the amphetamine category, but sub-testing can also occur for opiates, barbiturates, alcohol, and other drug categories.

While it can be complicated, we’re here as your trusted partner, and available to talk with you about your drug screening program and applicant/employee drug reports. Contact A-Check Global today.

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A CRAsh Course on Consumer Reporting Agencies

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As your trusted partner, we love updating our blog with information that helps you make informed employment decisions. When speaking with customers, we’re often asked about the laws surrounding Consumer Reporting Agencies and these laws affect employers, employees, and applicants. Of course, this is such an immense topic that we’ve decided to devote several upcoming blog articles to the subject. For today, here’s a quick intro and a sneak peek at what you’ll see in upcoming entries.

The Birth of the Consumer Reporting Industry

The consumer reporting industry arguably gets its start in 1899 when the first credit bureau—Retail Credit Company—was founded. While originally used to assess a person’s ability to repay debt, consumer reporting now also encompasses tenant screening, employment screening, insurance risk analysis, and more.

Due to the potential for background screens to be used unfairly to deny credit, housing, or employment, a number of regulations have been put in place to protect the subjects of a background investigation. The law refers to these individuals as consumers.

Introducing . . . The Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the largest piece of consumer protection law. It acts as the foundation of consumer rights at the federal level. Both CRAs, and the companies that act as the end user of a consumer report must adhere to the rules of the FCRA. In addition to the FCRA, many states, counties, and municipalities have passed their own regulations. These regulations are designed to offer further protection to consumers from unfair background screening procedures.

Violations of consumer rights as provided by the FCRA and other consumer protection laws can lead to costly litigation. In 2016 more than $75 million was awarded to defendants who successfully argued violations of the FCRA. What’s worse, these violations are often reported in business news or national media, potentially damaging a company’s brand and ability to recruit qualified talent. This number is expected to rise in 2017 and 2018.

With the potential rise of litigation in mind, we’re dedicated to providing ongoing advice on how to fairly utilize consumer reports, and remain compliant with federal, state and local regulations. In upcoming posts we’ll present regulatory trends affecting the screening industry, and offer advice and best practices to comply with these regulations. We hope you like what you read, and find this information useful. Stay tuned for:

  • The importance of credit reports
  • The rise of “Ban the Box” legislation
  • Restricting the use of salary history when making employment decisions

If you want more information about any of our articles, or if there’s something you’d like us to write about please contact us at connect@acheckglobal.com.

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Why Choose Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Integration?

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These days, many companies wrestle to balance employee workload and overall efficiency. As a result, employees might sometimes feel they are doing the work of three people or more. In that type of environment, it just makes sense to look for solutions that streamline responsibilities and quite frankly, make the job a little easier.

From a Human Resources technology standpoint, one effective solution is an applicant tracking system (ATS) integration. Many use some form of online ATS to hire, on-board and track applicants, and then another system(s) to perform pre-employment and/or drug screening before making employment decisions. An integrated solution unifies these functions through secure data sharing and a user friendly, web-based interface, providing the user a seamless operating environment.

The Goal is Effortless Employee Screening

Employment screening is a key part of the onboarding process. It helps ensure candidates are who they say they are and that they’re qualified to perform the job in question, while also helping to minimize employee-related risk pertaining to a company’s brand reputation, safety, and compliance.

Companies can realize significant benefits by integrating their employment screening process and ATS. A successful integration requires the cooperation of the employment screening provider and the applicant tracking system vendor to ensure software compatibility. Partnering with a screening provider dedicated to strong project management expertise while overseeing the entire process is also a must have.

The beauty of integrating is that you’ll have options to either take a simple workflow solution that’s both affordable and quick to implement, or a custom solution where you have the ability to develop around your specific business rules—integrating a workflow that makes sense to your organization and your system end users, while still providing convenience and efficiency to your candidates. Discussing these options with your employment screening partner will allow you to determine which will work best for your company.

At A-Check Global we’re a well-oiled integration machine

As an experienced employment screening provider with many successful integrations already in place through top ATS providers, A-Check Global works closely with you, combining current technologies with dedicated customer support to securely and effectively bring your company into the future of employee onboarding.

ATS integration allows your staff to maximize efficiency by eliminating redundant processes, thereby saving both time and money. It’s a win-win, and A-Check Global would be honored to partner with you toward that effective solution.

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Reviewing the Benefits of a Medical Review Officer (MRO)

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An MRO can play an important role in your employment decisions

A Medical Review Officer (MRO) is responsible for providing a medically-verified evaluation on drug screen results. For applicants and employees not regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT), this applies to any non-negative laboratory result determination. For applicants and employees who fall under DOT regulation (drivers or fork lift operators, for example), this applies to every drug screen, regardless of the laboratory’s initial determination. DOT applicants or employees are subject to additional requirements because of stricter, federally mandated regulation and “Return-To-Duty” programs.

The entire MRO process is beneficial for both employee and employer, and aims to maximize accuracy throughout the drug screening process.

An added layer of review to assist both applicant/employee and employer

Applicants may disclose any health conditions to a medical professional, allowing them to protect their privacy during the application and screening process.

It is possible for an applicant’s drug screen to show a positive result due to a medical condition or prescribed medication. By presenting drug screen results to an MRO, employers might avoid numerous expenses associated with removing or disqualifying an applicant or employee from employment, only to then discover a medically valid condition.

Additionally, the MRO process might also reveal conditions detrimental to safety. If an MRO believes that a medical condition or prescribed medication associated with an employee can inhibit that worker’s ability to safely perform their duties, they can choose to disclose that information on the final MRO report for the employer. A “Fit-For-Duty” test can also be requested by the MRO to properly assess the worker’s ability to perform job duties and measure any possible impairment concerns.

Drug screening best practices prove the need for MRO services

Dismissing a worker or disqualifying an applicant based on a positive drug screen that has not undergone MRO review is not necessarily congruent with industry best-practice policies and can also prove costly for the employer. For example, according to a 2014 Training Industry Report, onboarding a typical full time employee can cost up to $1,000—and require approximately 40 hours of company provided training. MRO consultation during the drug screening process can help an employer make sound employment decisions before that money is spent.

If your company is interested in taking the next step in drug screening accuracy and fairness in your Drug-Free Workplace policy, contact A-Check Global to get started immediately with MRO and other drug screening services.

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Salary History – Think Twice Before Asking

Pay Equity Legislation 5_02_2017Salary History Bans gain momentum in the employment process

A growing number of cities and states are voting on or implementing legislation in favor of a salary history ban during pre-employment screening—prohibiting employers from asking wage history questions to job applicants or considering previous applicant salaries as a determining factor in employment decisions.

Asking for an applicant’s salary history may seem an innocuous enough question; one of many that has been standard pre-employment practice for years. But like criminal history, it may lead to an unintended bias against applicants.

Asking for a person’s salary history can perpetuate pay disparity.

Think of it this way; an employee works diligently for five years—earning incremental pay increases along the way—and now wants to apply that experience to a new position at a much larger company. Unfortunately, the larger company asks for the employee’s salary history before offering the new position instead of simply paying market value. That could easily result in pay disparity because this person made less money at the previous position. If this scenario doesn’t seem fair to you, you are not alone.

We’re keeping an eye on legislative activity.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, (D-DC) and co-sponsors Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Jackie Speier (D-CA) have proposed the Pay Equity for All Act of 2017 which would prohibit employers from asking job applicants for their salary history before making a job or salary offer. Many states are also enacting their own legislation to address this issue.

The following states and cities have implemented or are in the process of implementing pay equity legislation including salary history bans:

Massachusetts     New York City     District of Columbia    Philadelphia      Oregon     Iowa    California    Puerto Rico    New Orleans     Connecticut    Delaware    Georgia    Idaho    Illinois    Maryland    Maine    Mississippi    Montana    New York    Texas    New Jersey    North Carolina    Pennsylvania    Vermont    Virginia    Washington    Rhode Island

And, it’s very likely this trend will continue. Please know that as your trusted partner, A-Check is keeping a close eye on this evolving legislation, and remain committed to developing solutions that ensure you have the ability to continue making informed pre-employment decisions.

 

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Effective July 1, 2017: Tighter Regulations on Considering Criminal History During Employment Decisions

In 2016, The California Fair Employment and Housing Council introduced revised regulations governing an employer’s consideration of criminal history when making employment decisions. The Office of Administrative Law approved these regulations, and they will become effective on July 1, 2017.

Essentially, these new regulations focus on two areas:

  1. Adverse impact claims
  2. Prohibitions and notice requirements regarding criminal history

Let’s take a closer look at what this may mean for you and how it might impact your employment decision process.

Adverse Impact Claims

Simply put, these new regulations will impose stricter limitations when using criminal records during employment decisions (for example, an employer’s decision to hire, fire, train or discipline an employee). These California regulations now align with federal law stating Employers are prohibited from using criminal history if doing so has an adverse impact on a current or prospective employee.

Likewise, employees are permitted to confirm adverse impact by using criminal conviction statistics, explaining that state/federal statistics of disparities in criminal convictions of a protected category are sufficient to illustrate adverse impact.

If an existing or potential employee establishes a claim, the burden is on the employer to show that the policy regarding consideration of criminal history is “job-related and consistent with business necessity” and takes into consideration the nature of the offense and the amount of time passed since the offense and/or completion of the sentence. Policies that consider convictions older than seven years may be subject to rebuttable presumption. Bright-line disqualification practices are also subject to new regulations. Employers must demonstrate that this practice can clearly distinguish between employees who do or do not impose a risk, and that criminal conviction has a negative impact on ability to perform job duties. Once employers establish this defense, the burden is on the employee to illustrate an alternative resolution.

Prohibitions and notice requirements regarding criminal history

New regulations also detail criminal history information that employers may no longer consider, and include additional requirements for providing applicant notice. Specifically, employers are prohibited from considering:

  • Arrests that did not result in conviction
  • Pre- or Post-trial diversion
  • Dismissed, sealed, or expunged conviction
  • Certain juvenile criminal history
  • Non-felony conviction (older than two years) of marijuana possession

If an employer receives a disqualifying conviction from a source other than the application, the employer must now provide notice of a disqualifying conviction prior to adverse action AND allow the applicant reasonable opportunity to respond with evidence of factual inaccuracy.

PLEASE NOTE: This notice and opportunity-to-respond requirement differs from the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) and “Ban the Box” California ordinances.

Prior to July 1, 2017, please take a moment to review your policies. California Employers should:

  • Reassess use of bright-line disqualifications
  • Update policies/procedures to remove prohibited disqualifications
  • Confirm that consumer reporting agencies used to screen applicants have implemented new regulations
  • Create policy/procedure providing notice of disqualifying conviction, as now required
  • Remain aware of federal/local regulations imposing additional limitations

The information contained herein is not specific legal advice, and should not be construed as such. You should discuss the use of policies and practices regarding employment decisions with your organization’s legal counsel to ensure regulatory compliance. For more information these and other regulations regarding employment screening, please contact A-Check Global via our contact page or 877-345-2021 today.

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Experts Predict More Mediation in the EEOC’s Future

3.28.17 - Experts Predict More Mediation in the EEOC

President Trump’s election in November of 2016 has caused many government agencies to wonder what the future holds. Will there be budget cuts, or budget increases? Hiring surges, or hiring freezes? Although there is quite a bit of uncertainty amongst these agencies, legal experts believe that one government agency, in particular, should expect major changes: the Equal Employment Opportunity commission (EEOC).

 

According to their website, “the EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.”

 

Since its establishment in 1965, the EEOC has performed these responsibilities successfully, with their efforts often leading to numerous lawsuits, judgments, and even the establishment of new laws aimed at protecting members of particular classes and groups.

 

Historically, these lawsuits, or the risk thereof, have posed significant challenges and changes for employers throughout the country due to the ease of initiating cases. However, with mediation on the horizon, this may change.

 

According to the EEOC, “Choosing mediation to resolve employment discrimination disputes promotes a better work environment, reduces costs and works for the employer and the employee.”

 

Essentially, this means a simple mediation can resolve a claim or issue, which will significantly decrease the number of investigations and litigations for employers. Additionally, an increase in mediation will give more power back to employers – enabling them to reach more mutually-beneficial conclusions with applicants/employees.

 

An official announcement/declaration of expected agency and policy changes under the Trump Administration has not yet been released by the EEOC, but employers interested in remaining informed, should visit the EEOC site regularly for updates.

 

For more information on EEOC compliance and/or how EEOC regulations impact employment screening, contact A-Check Global today via our contact page, or by calling 877-345-2021.

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Managing the Newly ‘Revised’ Form I-9

Date:  Thursday, March 23, 2017

View a recording of the Webinar here!.

Presenter:

Dave Basham – Sr. Outreach Analyst – U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Department of Homeland Security

Dave joined U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2008, following his retirement from the U.S. Army. He serves as a national contact for ICE agents in regards to the Form I-9 and E-Verify. Dave has conducted over 500 nationwide presentations which included audiences of elected officials, immigration attorneys, compliance personnel to human resources and payroll professionals. In 2014, Dave was selected as the recipient of Arkansas’s SHRM (Society of Human Resources Management) ‘Friend of HR’ award. Dave’s military assignments were numerous in the Infantry arena. His military service decorations include the Legion of Merit. Dave’s originally from West Virginia but now makes his home in historic Virginia.

 

Subject Matter:

A new version of the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, was released on November 14, 2016. By January 22, 2017, employers should be using the revised form. During this session we will cover areas to include the forms new blocks and changes; the differences in the fillable version versus the paper copy; and other “in the weeds” areas that will assist organizations with their Form I-9 processes and compliance.

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Using Mobile Collection Services to Establish Drug Free Workplaces

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In recent years, workplace safety has played a more major role in employment and hiring practices than ever before. And for many employers, this evolution ties directly into the establishment of Drug Free Workplace and similar policies.

 

Additionally, with the passage of various drug-related laws in some states, and changes in societal expectations as they pertain to drugs in others, more and more employers are taking advantage of all that the world of drug screening has to offer.

 

In a recent post Benefits of Instant, Onsite Drug Screening, A-Check Global addressed the desire of many employers to transition to more convenient alternatives to standard drug screens given the increase in overall benefits. After all, standard drug screens typically require employers to designate specific dates/times for employees and/or applicants to test off-site; which, as a result, has the potential to impact turnaround time and work productivity.

 

Instant, onsite drug screening is a popular alternative for employers, but it is not necessarily a good fit (or a permitted solution) for all companies and organizations.

 

If instant drug screening is not for you or your company, then onsite mobile collection services may be the ticket, as mobile collection is ideal for those looking to avoid an extended absence from employees. A mobile collection service consists of a collection facility coming to the place of employment to conduct all necessary drug screens that follow all typical procedures practiced at licensed facilities.

 

This option is useful for large groups of employees or applicants who are undergoing either random program, periodic, or pre-employment drug screening. Additionally, having an onsite collection facility come to a place of employment allows the collection to be completed via industry best-practice procedures during all stages of the screening process, while also having access to professional laboratory analysis, anti-adulteration technology, and, when applicable, additional review from an MRO.

 

If you are interested in mobile collection services, or incorporating alternative drug screening methods into your current Drug Free Workplace policy, please contact A-Check Global through our contact page, or by phone at 877-345-2021.

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Benefits of Instant, Onsite Drug Screening

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For many employers, drug screening is a vital piece of the hiring process. However, given the complex nature of drug screening in some industries, and time constraints in others, standard drug screens are not always a one-size-fits-all solution to drug screening needs.

 

A standard drug screen typically requires both collection at a licensed facility and analysis at an approved laboratory location. In addition, positive results are also subject to additional review from a Medical Review Officer (MRO). All of these procedures can have a significant impact on budgeting and work productivity, and in an effort to mitigate some of these costs, many employers have opted to make the change from traditional drug screening to alternative onsite drug screening options.

 

Instant-cup testing and onsite mobile collection services are both available to employers who wish to avoid the cost and inconvenience of sending their employees offsite for drug screening. While both options reduce the impact on budgeting and productivity, they each have unique advantages on a workplace drug screening program.

 

By opting into instant drug screening, employers are able to avoid the heavy costs of both collection facilities and laboratory testing. Regular collections at a facility can take anywhere between one to three hours – possibly even longer depending on the travel time between the place of employment and the collection facility- leaving the employee away from his or her post for an extended period of time. Instant drug testing is an effective way to circumvent this productivity loss.

 

Instant testing drastically reduces turnaround time for drug screens – getting workers back to work much quicker than traditional drug screening procedures. Having onsite collection kits can be useful as a preliminary drug screen to avoid unnecessary expenditures for laboratory based testing. In the case of reasonable suspicion or random program testing, instant drug testing provides a safer testing environment that does not require the employee to travel under the influence or be provided with transportation arrangements.

 

These procedures can be worked into any employer’s Drug Free Workplace policy, as long as they comply with all appropriate federal, state, local, union, and industry-specific regulations.

 

For more information on the benefits of onsite drug screening, or to incorporate it into your company/organization’s policy, contact A-Check Global today via our contact page, or by calling 877-345-2021.

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Using Credit History in the Hiring Process

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(Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not legal advice, and should not be construed as such. You should discuss the use of consumer reports with your organization’s legal counsel to ensure regulatory compliance.)

 

Historically, United States employers have commonly utilized credit history as a measure of financial responsibility and overall trustworthiness for employment applicants. However, in recent years, numerous states and municipalities have enacted legislation restricting the use of credit history in the applicant screening process to a small number of exceptions; primarily to those applicants who will have fiduciary roles if hired.

 

When utilizing credit reports in the hiring process, there are two primary factors employers and hiring managers should take into consideration:

 

  1. The laws and regulations governing the use of credit reports for employment purposes.

a) Employers and hiring managers should familiarize themselves with state/municipal laws that may limit the use of credit history in employment decisions. Some of the states/metropolitan areas with laws enacted to further regulate the use of credit history in the hiring process include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia. The primary objective of most laws enacted by these states and jurisdictions is to restrict the use of credit reports to ensure they are only utilized when the position includes fiduciary responsibilities or positions with high compensation and/or financial decision making authority.

  1. The relevance of the report in the hiring process.

 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) encourages employers to consider the nature of the position prior to using credit history in the hiring screening process. SHRM notes the following:

 If the responsibilities of the job call for the employee to handle money, assets, clients’ personal information, or proprietary company data, the information provided in the credit report may be very useful … If the position doesn’t require the applicant to have access to financial or proprietary company data, a credit report may not be needed.

 

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of hiring managers to ensure they remain in compliance with both the FCRA and any other applicable state or local laws and regulations.

 

For more information on using credit history in employment screening ensuring your hiring process is legally compliant, please contact A-Check Global via our contact page or 877-345-2021 today.