Ensuring Safety and Security: The Role of Fingerprint Background Checks in Hiring

All businesses must keep their employees safe. This goes beyond simple regulations and involves procedures like training, maintaining workspaces, having emergency plans, first-aid kits & training, and more.

Taking safety seriously benefits your business in many ways, including reduced employee turnover. It also helps you avoid financial costs associated with security breaches.

Background Checks

Using fingerprints, a background check looks up criminal records to identify an individual. This is a standard vetting method used by some industries, such as finance and positions that require security clearance. This fingerprint background check for employment is also used to verify identity and prevent fraud, which is especially important for jobs that deal with sensitive information like healthcare.

However, these types of background checks can have their drawbacks. While fingerprints are a unique identifier, they’re not foolproof and may return inaccurate results due to incomplete or outdated information. In addition, relying on fingerprint databases could have a disparate impact on people of color, which can put employers at risk of legal action.

Fingerprint-based background checks are typically run through the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), which houses millions of records. However, these databases are only complete if the prints were collected in connection with an arrest, so they often miss records for misdemeanors, such as public intoxication or disorderly conduct.

Additionally, these types of background checks typically only look up arrest records and not convictions, which makes them unsuitable for use as employment screenings. In contrast, a name-based background check is a more accurate and thorough method for identifying job applicants. It can include much more information, such as education records, professional certifications, driving records, and past employment history.

Criminal Record Checks

Most people think that fingerprints ensure more thorough background checks, a belief often fostered by crime dramas and Hollywood films. However, fingerprint data is not the primary sorting mechanism used to navigate criminal databases. Fingerprints aren’t even always filed with criminal records. As a result, fingerprints can miss information that name-based checks would find easily.

A criminal record check conducted with a fingerprint includes local and state arrest and disposition data that is then compiled into a national database for the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). The IAFIS, however, is only as complete as the information submitted. Typically, a state or local police department or statewide repository reports this information to the IAFIS.

Moreover, some states limit how far back IAFIS can search for an individual’s arrest history. For example, Hawaii limits fingerprint searches to seven years for felony convictions and five years for misdemeanors.

Despite these limitations, many employers believe fingerprint background checks are more reliable than traditional name-based checks. That’s because fingerprints can strongly indicate an individual’s identity. In addition to confirming an applicant’s identity, a fingerprint background check can reveal pending or dismissed charges and information such as acquittals, dismissals, and reversals. This can be especially helpful for positions requiring a high degree of trust, such as those in the healthcare industry or those with access to private financial information.

Driving Record Checks

A company requiring employees to drive or operate vehicles should include a driving record check for their background screening. This can help you identify candidates with a clean driving history and reduce the liability risk for your business.

A person’s driving record consists of a list of traffic infractions that appear on their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles report. An MVR report typically contains information such as license suspensions and convictions, accident reports, citations, and safety driving education certificates.

In addition, the MVR report provides an up-to-the-minute snapshot of a driver’s driving status. Companies that the federal government regulates or have transportation workers will need to run MVR checks during the pre-employment screening and regularly conduct rechecks or monitoring during employment.

MVR reports are vital to any screening process and can be a valuable supplement to a criminal record check. Many states require employers to run both a NDR and an MVR check when hiring a new employee.

A clean MVR will provide peace of mind that you are making an intelligent hiring decision to protect your employees, customers, and the public. Additionally, you may enhance your company’s reputation by preventing bad press from occurring when an employee is discovered to have a poor driving record.

Reference Checks

Adding reference checks to your hiring process can provide valuable information about candidates. This is to verify their claims about education, experience, and past positions and evaluate soft skills like teamwork and leadership.

This information can help you determine if they are the right fit for your company and may help prevent problems, including costly lawsuits related to negligent hiring. Moreover, references can alert you to potential safety hazards in the workplace that can impact your employees or customers.

A fingerprint-based background check searches the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) for criminal records, using an applicant’s unique identifier to locate documents. The IAFIS contains records of people who have been arrested and the status of those cases. It does not, however, include records of people who have been arrested but did not get convicted or those who have been arrested for reasons unrelated to a crime.

Relying on fingerprint background checks that return incomplete or inaccurate information can also put employers at legal risk for disparate impact discrimination, as they may unintentionally take adverse action against protected group members. In addition, a person can have multiple records in the IAFIS database due to having more than one name or being born, raised, or living in different states.

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