Most Americans (95%) believe background checks should be mandatory for prospective employees during the hiring process.

That’s one of the results found in a recent report commissioned by Sterling Infosystems Inc., a background check firm, and conducted by Kelton Global. The nationwide report found that more than 60% of people think background checks provide a sense of security in the workplace. And 81% think that this sense of safety and security at work is a right — not a privilege.

“Employees and consumers in general want to feel safe, and one of the things employers can do to ensure safety in the workplace is to do background checks,” says Julia Mair, head of global sales & marketing at Sterling Infosystems Inc.

However, while almost all of the respondents believed background checks should be mandatory, only 68% said they would be willing to undergo background checks themselves. Nearly 15% considered background checks an invasion of privacy.

‘Have a policy’
But Catherine Aldrich, the vice president of operations at HireRight, says that before employers can run background checks they need to have disclosure and authorization forms signed. Employers also need to ensure that the information is kept private.

“Have a policy around who has access to it, what they’re doing with it and make sure that users are changing the password on a regular basis,” Aldrich says. “We recommend that our clients conduct regular audits to make sure the practices are in line with legal obligations.”

Part of the legal obligations across states is that background checks only look at information that is pertinent to the position being considered. So, for example, an employer shouldn’t look at someone’s credit score if they applied for a job that doesn’t involve finances and money.

Sterling’s report found that most respondents thought background checks should be required for those who prescribe medicine or represent people in legal matters, and 44% thought the same should be required of drivers and chauffeurs.

Aldrich says there are other good ways for employers to make workers feel safe, including drug screenings and requiring keys to enter the office so that it is only open to employees.

Sterling commissioned the report in the hopes that it would show the need for background checks during hiring doesn’t just impact employers; there is a responsibility to workers and clients as well, says Mair.

“We started talking about background checks in terms of what does the consumers feel and in terms of the safety perspective,” she says. “And, in fact, the consumer does care. The statistics are pretty clear. Most feel background checks should be mandatory.”

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