The Origins of Employee Background Checks: A Brief Overview

Nowadays, conducting criminal background checks plays a crucial role in organizations’ employee screening processes, aiming to prevent the risk of inappropriate behavior within the workplace. However, did you know that the origins of background checks date back to as early as 100 years ago, where organizations were required to vet employees before hiring? In this article, we’ll take you through the history of employee background checks, how they evolved, and the key turning points.

Origins of Employee Background Checks

The roots of employee background checks trace back to the year 1908 when a case involving workplace hazing resulted in the accidental death of a coworker. This incident led to legal repercussions for the employer, who was held responsible for the tragedy despite being aware of the misconduct but choosing to retain the offending employee. This paved the way for legislation regarding hiring practices.

It wasn’t until the period between 1911 and 1933 that employment laws began to expand, particularly addressing cases of hiring individuals with a history of violent behavior towards both customers and coworkers. A pivotal case in 1951, where an employee assaulted a maid, marked a significant turning point. The court ruled that employers were responsible for selecting suitable candidates for employment, ensuring they had no prior unsuitable history that could impact their performance. This landmark case laid the groundwork for mandatory criminal background checks as part of the hiring process.

2 pivotal events that have changed the way criminal background checks

Two pivotal events that have led to a shift in the way criminal background checks are conducted today are the 9/11 attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The 9/11 attacks marked a significant turning point in history when terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center towers in 2001, resulting in massive economic and human losses. The lax security measures at airports contributed to the tragedy, prompting many organizations to recognize the importance of screening employees before hiring to ensure the safety of their organizations and customers.

Subsequently, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought about a profound change in how people live and work. Organizations increasingly adopted online hiring practices, allowing employers and employees to collaborate without physical interaction. Examples include delivery services and work-from-home arrangements. However, this shift posed greater risks compared to traditional hiring practices, with a surge in online job applications and a large workforce. As a result, many organizations turned to modern and rapid criminal background check services to mitigate these risks effectively.

What are the Current Practices in Employee Background Checks?

Today, society is rife with various forms of crime, including workplace-related offenses that continue to occur. These offenses have detrimental effects on organizations both directly and indirectly. Here are some key aspects of employee background checks that organizations prioritize:

  1. Criminal background checks involve examining an applicant’s history of criminal cases to determine whether they have been involved in any criminal activities such as assault, harassment, or unlawful conduct.
  2. Employment history verification entails checking the credibility of an applicant’s work history as stated on their resume or application. This helps assess whether the applicant possesses the required qualifications and experience.
  3. Bankruptcy history checks involve scrutinizing an applicant’s financial records to minimize the risk of payroll obligations in cases of bankruptcies, where organizations may be liable to pay wages to trustees for distribution to creditors.
  4. Social media screening involves checking an applicant’s online presence for any negative publicity or inappropriate behavior that may not have resulted in legal action but could influence HR decisions.

In Summary

It’s evident that employee background checks are crucial for organizations, whether in the past or present. They help in acquiring quality employees and mitigating the risk of workplace misconduct, thus safeguarding the organization’s reputation. Appman Criminal Checker is a digital background check service that revolutionizes HR operations by swiftly providing insights into criminal histories and legal cases. This enables organizations to hire more qualified candidates promptly.

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