Background investigations are a crucial step in the hiring process. But it can be challenging to comprehend the laws that govern them. It takes a lot of time and effort to attempt to conduct a California employment background check on your own. In this article, we’ll examine some effective techniques for conducting a background check in California.
When an employer or other business requests information about a person’s past, this is known as a background check. Obtaining data on a person’s criminal history is part of this process.
A company or employer has the option of performing the background investigation on its own or by contracting with a third party. Be aware that if an employer runs their own criminal history record check, it may be very thorough or not at all.
An “investigative reporting agency” is the organization that a company employs. These organizations are in the business of gathering, searching for, and selling data on individuals.
In California, background checks are permitted. However, when performing them, employers are subject to a number of restrictions and requirements under California law. There are some of these in:
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the California Information Privacy Act (CIPA), the ban the box law of California, the fair chance ordinances of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and anti-discrimination laws.
You may be surprised to learn that one in three Californians has a criminal record.
This means that at some point during the hiring process, employers are almost certainly going to run into past convictions, arrests, and other considerations.
California Employment Background Check Laws
The state’s various background check laws as they apply to California employers are broken down as follows:
The Fair Credit Reporting Act
Employers and applicants are protected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), also known as the law. In particular, the FCRA supports fairness, accuracy, and privacy for the data kept in consumer reporting agency files.
The national benchmark for employment background checks is the FCRA. It ensures that candidates have the right to a copy of the background investigation.
Additionally, it enables the applicant to file a complaint if the background check yields false or insufficient results.
Employers in California, like all employers, are required to abide by FCRA rules. When a hiring company uses background checks created by third-party providers, federal FCRA regulations currently apply:
Inform the applicant in writing that a background investigation and report may be necessary.
Use an authorization form to get the applicant’s consent to run a background investigation.
If your job requires you to gather medical data, make sure you have the proper authorization.
Give advance notice if the employer intends to speak with the applicant’s neighbors, friends, or associates about their “character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living” or if the employer will do so. This process is referred to as a “investigative consumer report” by the FCRA.
Notify the applicant if the results of a background check are used against them in a hiring decision.
FCRA provisions do not apply if an employer creates a background check report on its own.
The California Information Privacy Act (CIPA)
The CIPA (California Civil Code sections 1785 et seq.) builds upon the FCRA’s minimum requirements for employee privacy protections.
In contrast to employers who decide to do it themselves, CIPA establishes stringent requirements for employers who choose to use third-party firms to carry out their background checks.
Employers who conduct their own investigations must comply with CIPA requirements and offer candidates the chance to “opt-in” to receiving a copy of their background check reports.
Either the job application or the written notice of the background check, as required by FCRA, must contain the checkbox. If the applicant chooses to participate, the employer must send the applicant a copy of the report no later than three days after it is received.
CIPA mandates that the employer provides what it refers to as a “clear and conspicuous” notice if it decides to contract with a third-party agency to carry out background checks.
The “nature and scope” of the background check must be disclosed in this written notice [Cal. Civil Code 1786.16(2)(B)(v)].
Ban the Box and Fair Hiring Laws
Currently, California’s public sector employers are the only ones covered by Ban the Box laws. According to these laws, public employers are only allowed to check an applicant’s criminal history after confirming that the applicant satisfies the position’s minimum qualifications.
The California Fair Chance Act AB1008, which seeks to give applicants with criminal histories an equal opportunity to advance through the application process, among other provisions, made “Ban the Box” legal in California.
The Fair Chance Act essentially mandates that an employer consider an applicant’s qualifications before running a criminal background check. Employers in California are not allowed to inquire about felony convictions or criminal histories prior to making an offer of employment.
Information Found on a Background Check in California
Both criminal justice agencies and non-criminal justice organizations will provide the following data as part of a background check: criminal/arrest records and court records, social security records, credit reports from consumer reporting agencies, insurance claims reports, references, worker compensation records, education records, check writing history, tenant history, DMV driving/vehicle registration records, immigration records, sex offender registry lists, state licensing records.
Not all of these sources need to have information collected for a background check. A few of them might merely send a check.
These are some of the details you should be aware of on a California background check activity. They can help make your lookup experience less complex.