Conducting background checks and criminal records checks on prospective employees is a hotly debated topic, as some experts believe such a practice could deter ex-criminals from entering the workforce, while others claim it’s an absolutely necessary step in order to create a safe job.
How do you protect the rights of a person with a criminal record without jeopardizing the rights of other employees to a safe work environment?
Let’s explore how a business owner can protect their business by conducting criminal record checks while also helping ex-offenders who are ready to put their past behind them.
The benefits of using background checks
The first and most important benefit of having all of your current and future employees criminally controlled is that you know exactly who is working for you. You probably know their CV, you know what their education is, where they have worked before, but a quick background check from online services like the Australian Personality Test will give you an idea of what the life was like.
A background check will show if they have previously committed any criminal offenses and of what kind because that is also important.
A person with a long history of petty crime is unlikely to pose a threat, but someone who frequently gets in trouble with the law is a clear risk. Even if they do their job and don’t cause any particular problems at work, you never know when they will be arrested again. The point is, why would you devote time and money to such an employee? That’s a bad investment.
What’s the easiest way to check criminal records?
You don’t want to burden your HR department with an extra task and more bureaucracy. In today’s world, conducting background checks on your employees is extremely easy as all you have to do is set up an account with an online background check agency and use them every time you need a police clearance for someone. These agencies are Crimtrac accredited and have access to police databases in all Australian states and territories. You can have a full police check on anyone in a matter of days, straight to your email.
How do you use information from a criminal record?
You must be very careful about how sensitive information from an individual’s criminal record is handled. Disclosing such private information to third parties is illegal. Only those with a need to know, like your HR manager, should have access to such information.
If the criminal record comes back clean, you can hire that person immediately, knowing that they are in no way dangerous to your company or the rest of the staff.
You should extend such actions to any gig workers or independent contractors you may employ. Anyone who has access to your internal network or represents your company should be properly screened.
However, if you find that a person has some offenses on their criminal record, you need to analyze the merits of each setting. A good professional with a five-year history of drunk driving can be a valuable addition to your team, unless of course he’s applying for a job as a driver.
On the other hand, you have to think very carefully about whether you really want to hire an equally good professional with a serious offense. Given the choice, you probably won’t want to hire a person with sexual harassment convictions or a person with a serious drug addiction.
That way, you protect your business, don’t waste money on mishires that result in high employee turnover, and the rest of your workforce feels safe in the workplace.