With recent high-profile cases of workplace violence, fraud, and data breaches, more employers are taking steps to recheck current employees in sensitive positions periodically. Conducting updated background checks helps assess whether any new risks have emerged that could impact safety, security, compliance or company reputation.
This comprehensive guide examines why and when periodic rechecking makes sense, what to look for, best practices to follow, and how to address any potential problems uncovered. Implementing a thoughtful, legally-compliant rechecking process provides one more layer of protection without undermining employee relations.
For roles involving high responsibility, security access, financial oversight, vulnerable populations or critical safety functions, most employers recognize the need for pre-employment screening. But risks don’t end on day one. Over time, trusted employees may develop issues like substance abuse, massive debt, or criminal associations that could increase temptation for fraud, theft or other misconduct. Periodic rechecking helps flag potential concerns early so they can be addressed appropriately.
Reducing Legal Liability
If an employee in a sensitive role commits an act of workplace violence, harassment, discrimination or fraud that causes harm, affected individuals may sue the employer for negligent hiring or retention. Plaintiffs can argue the company should have discovered warning signs if periodic rechecking had been done. Conducting background check updates at regular intervals strengthens the employer’s defense by showing diligence.
Maintaining Company Reputation
Internal crimes or scandals not only open employers up to lawsuits – they also damage brand reputation. Periodic rechecking aims to prevent issues by deterring potentially tempted employees. If misconduct does occur, being able to show the perpetrator passed an earlier background check may help contain the PR fallout.
Protecting Confidential Information
Employees with access to sensitive data like customer account info, trade secrets, or proprietary systems can do immense damage by stealing or misusing that information. Besides financial loss, data breaches erode customer trust. Rechecking helps confirm proper protocols are still being followed and no new risks of insider threat have emerged.
With the importance of rechecking established, next comes setting policy on appropriate timing. Organizations take varied approaches on when to trigger periodic updates. Common options include:
The most typical standard is annual rechecking. For example, all employees in finance, IT, HR, security, or other designated roles have a background check rerun every 12 months. Annual verification is frequent enough to regularly catch new issues.
After Extended Leaves of Absence
Major life events like health problems, family responsibilities, school, travel, or other personal leaves can lead to changed circumstances. Rechecking upon return from a leave over 30-90 days provides assurance the employee still meets standards.
Upon Promotion or Transfer
Before moving personnel into higher responsibility roles, it’s prudent to rerun background checks. Even lateral transfers between departments warrant updates when the job duties are substantively different.
Based on Changes in Duties or Access
Rather than standing time intervals, some organizations elect to recheck when an employee’s core duties or data/system access expands materially. This ensures new privileges come with fresh verification.
The exact components included will depend on the sensitivity of the position, legal requirements, and what was covered initially pre-employment. Common elements to re-examine include:
One of the core purposes of rechecking is uncovering any new arrests, charges or convictions that may impede job performance or increase risks. Many employers rerun seven year county/statewide criminal searches annually.
Changes in financial circumstances, like bankruptcy, tax liens, judgments or excessive debt load can indicate increased motive for theft or fraud. Credit reports may be rerun for accounting, finance and cash-handling roles.
Motor Vehicle Records
For employees who drive regularly for work, periodic MVR checks help flag moving violations, license suspensions and at-fault accidents that could impact safety.
Previous Employers and References
Speaking with past employers and references again can uncover new details like misconduct or performance problems that weren’t shared initially.
Social Media Screening
Updated social media reviews help spot warning signs like support for criminal actions, violence, problematic drug use or extremist views that could carry over to the workplace.
For periodic rechecks to work smoothly, and avoid allegations of unfair surprise or invasion of privacy, employers should follow certain best practices:
Communicate the Process Upfront
Job postings and offer letters should include language notifying candidates that employees in the role are subject to periodic background re-verification if hired. This sets clear expectations.
Obtain Updated Authorizations
Before any recheck, have the employee complete an updated background check authorization form consenting to a fresh search. This protects privacy rights.
Singling employees out for rechecking without justification can spur claims of discrimination. Having standardized policies spelling out when rechecks will occur avoids inconsistencies.
Maintain thorough documentation showing background check update procedures were followed consistently per written policy.
Follow Adverse Action Procedures
If a periodic recheck turns up results that may warrant termination or other adverse action, follow FCRA procedures for notice, copy of record and opportunity to dispute.
When concerning issues surface in a recheck, avoid overreacting. Carefully assess the risks posed in context before taking action.
Assess the Severity
Does an arrest record involve charges relevant to the job role? How overdue are credit accounts – and what is the total balance? Minor issues may not require action. But major red flags need investigation.
Consider Extenuating Circumstances
Health problems, family demands, student loan debt or divorce may provide context to understand credit or criminal record flags not willfully harmful to the employer.
Follow Company Policies
Look to employee handbooks and HR guidelines on the level of background check issues that warrant termination versus probation, temporary leave or reassignment to a non-sensitive role.
Consult with HR and Legal
Complex or unclear situations deserve input from human resources and legal counsel to review details, manage risk and preserve a legally defensible position.
Document All Steps Taken
In case of litigation down the road, thorough records demonstrating careful, fair handling of problems uncovered will strengthen defense against negligent retention claims.
While not without challenges, implementing periodic rechecking of current employees in higher risk roles provides substantial benefits. Ongoing verification demonstrates continued trustworthiness – deterring misconduct and creating timely alerts to any emerging problems. By reinforcing job requirements haven’t materially changed, and using clear policies and fair procedures, employers can maintain a cycle of re-verification that builds a culture of integrity.