Employment Screening Resources Releases Second Annual Top Ten Trends for Employment Background Checks for 2009

January 27, 2009 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
Novato, California Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a leading national employment screening background firm, released its "Second Annual Top Ten Trends in the Pre-Employment Background Screening Industry" for 2009 today. Although issues from 2008 remain on the list, the 2009 trends reflect increasing concerns over the over the use of Facebook and similar sites, lawsuits looming over inaccurate Background Screening reports, increasing government scrutiny of the screening industry and privacy and security issues.

"In the current legal environment, businesses want to make sure they are not only exercising due diligence but are also ahead of the curve on legal issues," said Lester S. Rosen, attorney at law and founder of ESR and author of two books on background screening. "The quickest way to get sued is to not understand the legal environment and latest trends surrounding background checks and employment."

Rosen believes that the federal and state governments will require more background screening in 2009, especially in sensitive jobs, and that more businesses will make Pre-Employment Background Screening a requirement for the job. The increased use of Applicant Tracking Systems will lead to "one button" clicks for background checks, he says.

"At the same time, consumers are worried about their privacy. That's why data protection and accuracy have become so critical. The use of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace are another minefield for employers," says Rosen. "We have identified 10 Trends to help alert employers on what to expect in 2009."

1. Increased Governmental Mandates: The federal and state governments for 2009 are likely to require more background checks, especially in sensitive industries. Another area will be the verification of the right to work under the E-verify program,
2. Privacy and Accuracy: Privacy advocates in 2009 will be focused on resolving instances of noncompliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act's requirements for accuracy and dispute investigations. A leading cause of inaccuracies comes from matching innocent job applicants to criminal records based upon the same or a similar name in a database, without re-verification of the record at the courthouse. A new organization called Concerned CRA's has taken a stance against utilizing such databases without taking proper measures to ensure accuracy of criminal records.
3. Second Chance for Ex-Offenders: Unless as a society we want to build more prisons than schools or hospitals, something must be done to reduce recidivism and find employment for applicants with criminal records. To deal with this issue directly, for example, the State of New York has passed new "second chance" laws that became effective this year. The laws place a greater emphasis on employers analyzing a past criminal record to determine whether there is a business justification to not hire a person, including providing job applicants with notice of these various new rights.
4. Consumer Protection Litigation: As the screening industry matures, and applicants and their lawyers become much more informed about their consumer rights, it is likely that there will be an increase in litigation in 2009. These lawsuits, including class action lawsuits, will be filed against screening firms, particularly when it comes to various notices required under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and accuracy requirements for background screening repors.
5. Impact of the Recession: As a result of the recession and higher unemployment, it is likely that employers will need to scrutinize applications even more carefully, to be on the watch for fraudulent credentials, such as inflated or fictional employment or education history.
6. Data Security, Data Breaches, and Offshoring Data: Since identity theft continues to be a national and international problem, expect even more emphasis in 2009 on data security and protection. Closely related is the continuing issue of employers and screening firms sending confidential consumer data offshore for processing to places such as India for cost savings. Once data leaves the United States, it is beyond U.S. privacy protections. Concerned CRA's has also taken a stance against offshoring such data without notification to consumers. The use of home-operator networks also presents an unnecessary risk to privacy as well. There is no justification for personal information to be spread across kitchen tables and dorm rooms across America.
7. Accreditation by NAPBS: The non-profit trade organization for the Screening Industry, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) has announced the introduction of an accreditation program. NAPBS has gone through an exhaustive process to develop "Best Practices" for the industry, and it is anticipated that firms will start going through the accreditation process this year.
8. Social Network Sites: The use of social networking sites as a pre-employment screening device will continue to be a hot topic in 2009, as more recruiters and HR professionals go online to satisfy their curiosity about candidates. The problem: contrary to popular belief, just because it is online does not mean that it's a good idea to utilize it without developing policies and procedures. Online material can be inaccurate, discriminatory, and under certain circumstances, its use can be an invasion of privacy. Stay tuned as more courts give their opinions on this issue.
9. Integration of Services: With the advent of "Web 2.0," it is likely that technology will play an even bigger role in the coming year. Seamless integrations with Applicant Tracking Systems allow paperless background screening systems at the click of a mouse.
10. International Background Checks: With mobility of workers across international borders, due diligence is no longer limited to just what an applicant has done in the United States and there will be stronger demand in 2009 for International Criminal, Education, and past Employment checks.

An expanded list of the 10 Trends report is available on the Employment Screening Resources website .

Mr. Rosen has authored two books: The Safe Hiring Manual: The complete guide to keeping criminals, terrorists, and imposters out of your workplace," and The Safe Hiring Audit: The employer's guide to implementing a safe hiring program." He is a frequent presenter nationwide at human resources, fraud and security conferences, and was the chair of the steering committee that founded the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) and served as its first co-chair. He has testified as an expert in negligent hiring cases in California, Florida and Arkansas.