Why You Should Conduct Background Checks

Starbucks does it. The company routinely conducts a background check when it makes a tentative job offer to any candidate for employment. Medical practices should do so, too.

Obtaining background information on a new hire is of critical importance in today's business environment, said Peggy Pringle of TMA Practice Consulting. Checking the criminal history of each prospective employee is inexpensive insurance against lawsuits and reputation-damaging publicity for a negligent hiring decision. The courts repeatedly have found the employer is responsible for the actions of an employee if the person had a criminal record and the employer failed to check the applicant's record, she said.

For a minimal fee, a practice can investigate a prospective employee's criminal conviction history, verify academic records and occupational licenses, and more. "The charge is worth paying to avoid a lawsuit, an injured employee or patient, bad publicity, employee absenteeism, or thefts that could occur if you don't check backgrounds," Ms. Pringle said.

Here are some tips:

  • If you use credit reports in your screening of new employees, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires you to get the candidate’s permission first. The same requirement applies if you use an outside agency to conduct a background check.

  • You have the right to conduct a criminal background check yourself. Written permission is not required but is advisable to prevent later claims that you violated the candidate’s privacy.

  • It’s best to hire a reputable company to conduct background checks to make sure you stay within the law. Be sure the company searches the most current data when conducting a check.

  • If possible, don’t seek permission for credit or background checks until you’ve made a tentative offer of employment. That will lower the risk of discrimination based on criminal history for the majority of unsuccessful applicants.

Want help with hiring? TMA Practice Consulting can recruit qualified candidates for management, clinical, billing, and front office positions. A consultant will work with you from job descriptions specific to your practice through interviewing, background checks, and even training after you've made your hiring decision. 

Published June 23, 2015

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Last Updated On

June 23, 2016

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