How far back do employment background checks go? This is one impending question both employees and employers have struggled with. Why? Employees might worry that what if they dig too deep into the past and find something? Or employers might worry that what if they did not dig deep enough? What is the standard in such background checks, especially at a time when employees are going remote? Let us find out. 

Running a proper in-depth and comprehensive background check helps you reduce the risks of hiring new people. It also helps you understand the person better and know who you are hiring and if they fit into your company. According to an NAPBS Survey, 2018, said that almost 95% of employers run background checks on employees. So, you are not alone. So how far should you go? Is there a standard or a legal rule? Can overstepping these limits be fatal for you? Check out the details in the section below. 

What are the types of employment background checks? How far back do these go?

So, there are many things that an employer can be interested in. But what are the most common things that come up on employment background checks? And how far back in history do they check? Is there a standardized amount of time period that employers look at, or can they go as deep as they want? Find out here. 

1. Previous employment records 

Generally, this history is traced back to 7 years to see if the employment history provided is credible or not. This also helps establish the kind of relationship you had at your workplace or previous employer feedback. But depending on the sector you are from, searches can go deeper.

All background searches are of two types, level 1 and level 2. The search level varies depending on the security level of the work and employment nature. Level 2 searches generally involve fingerprint checks and can go much deeper than just 7-10 years. 

2. Bankruptcy history

Bankruptcy records are generally traced back up to 10 years. This is the minimum standard that is followed in most American states. They also involve finding the cause for bankruptcy. What is the purpose of going so far back down? This helps in understanding the financial standards of a person much better. Especially if an employee is being hired at a high-salaried job, then these things become more important. 

3. Credit history and general credit score

When an employee is hired for a high-profile job like a managerial position, the credit history is traced back up to 10-15 years. This depends on two factors, how serious the job profile and how security sensitive the industry is. If an employee personally has a bad credit score and unstable finances and has a C-suite position in a company, it might look bad. That is why these searches need to go so far back down. 

4. Criminal history (felony and misdemeanor)

CNN news reports show that one in every three Americans has a criminal record. A comprehensive background check can go deep down and find which of these records were felonies or simple misdemeanors. These background checks go back up to 5 – 10 years. But they can go further back down, depending on the state you reside in. 

  1. Professional license verification

All professional licenses need to be verified if an employee or a prospective employee claims to have them. They can cross-check if they have licenses or affiliations with certain other organizations. These tend to be verified throughout a person’s career and do not have any validity or time limit. In this case, employers can go back in history as much as they want to. 

5. Educational qualification history

This background check can last for a lifetime in any employee’s career. No matter when you get your degree, it will be verified by your employers at some point in time. 

6. Driving records

Depending on the state the company and employee are in, the background search about driving history can go back up to 3 – 10 years. But this factor generally tends not to matter if the job profile does not involve driving or cars. 

Summing up

It is a well-known practice that employers and business owners run background checks on new employees. But if you are an employer, you must remember that you can run these checks without the person’s written consent. You have had them sign a proper form before starting this process. Otherwise, the prospective employee can report you to the FTC and file a legal case against you. 

There are strict guidelines to protect the rights of all parties involved. So, before you start, you must read them and stay updated. You must provide a valid reason for running the background check to avoid any further hassle with the authorities. To follow all guidelines and run background checks, get a credible and experienced partner to work with you.