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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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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 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.