Why Businesses Should Carry Out Background Checks When Recruiting

Background checks should be a part of just about every employer’s recruiting and hiring process. The checks can range from consulting with references to conducting a police check.

If your employees have contact with the public or financial transactions, you should be particularly thorough about your background checks to avoid negligent hiring claims.

Employer doing background check

Onboarding new employees is an exciting time for organisations. New people bring fresh ideas and new opportunities to a role and to teams.

Yet, despite all the positive benefits of bringing fresh talent into the business, there’s a great deal of care that needs to be taken when you hire someone new. You want to ensure that you are hiring someone who is the right fit for your company, and you want to hire someone who is who they say they are.

Because so many people misrepresent their background and credentials, it is important to do at least a little checking to see if what the applicant says about his or her background is true.

A lot of employers don’t do any checking, and they often regret that decision. The applicant may be unqualified for the job, or may have some personality trait or past experience that causes problems for you later.

What Constitutes Negligent Hiring?

A good way to explain what constitutes negligent hiring in the eyes of law is to familiarize yourself with what must generally be shown in order for a customer, employee, or other third party to prevail in a negligent hiring suit against an employer:

  • the existence of an employment relationship between the employer and the worker
  • the employer’s actual or constructive knowledge of the employee’s unfitness (failure to investigate can lead to a finding of constructive knowledge)
  • the employee’s act or omission causing the third party’s injuries
  • the employer’s negligence in hiring the employee as the most likely cause of the person’s injuries

HR team doing background check

Are you in an industry where background checks are compulsory?

When you’ve lost top talent because someone else beat you to the offer, it’s tempting to take shortcuts next time around and make an offer before you complete all required checks like a police check application. But there can be serious consequences for employers who do this only to find out after they’ve employed a person that they’ve failed a background check. A police check online is in many cases considered as a sound starting point.

Most commonly, failure to complete background checks such as a national police check and ensure that the correct identification, licenses, certifications, and visas have been provided can lead to a breach in compliance. Your inability to prove an employee’s suitability for working with children, to drive or to legally fill a role, places your team, your clients and your business at risk.

The more risk-sensitive the position, the greater the possibility that a business will be liable for negligent hiring if your employee is involved in harmful misconduct or illegal activities.

Once you have employed someone who turns out to have misconstrued the truth, it’s much harder (and expensive) to dismiss them and go back into recruiting for that role than it is to not hire them in the first place. The bottom line here is employers are better off dealing with information deception before making an offer, not after.