Posted in background investigations, credit checks, credit checks in employment, employment credit checks
The New York City Council has once again introduced legislation that would prevent city employers from utilizing credit checks in determining whether a candidate is a good fit for a job. Jobs that require credit checks under state or federal law would, of course, be exempt from the new law, should it pass.
Employers often utilize credit checks in determining whether a candidate would be a responsible employee, and so long as the company is not violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act, doing so is legal. (However, ten states — including the nearby Connecticut, Vermont and Maryland — have existing legislation that limits state employers’ use of credit checks in the hiring process.)
The ban would prevent employers and employment agencies from conducting personal credit checks, in order to prevent discrimination based on race and/or economic disadvantage.
A study by Demos showed that one in 10 people who would otherwise be qualified for a position are told they cannot be hired because of a bad credit report; however, the study also showed that, overwhelmingly, bad credit is often due to factors outside a person’s control, such as the faltering economy, crippling student loans and medical debt. Student debt is shown to disproportionately affect minority students, and medical debt is often due to an inability to maintain health insurance, which can be difficult if one cannot find work.
“We want New Yorkers who apply for jobs or promotions to be judged by their qualifications and experience for the position, and not by whether they have enough money to pay their bills,” said Councilmember and Chief Sponsor Brad Lander.
In addition, studies have found that white households are more likely to consider their credit scores “good,” while black families are more likely to describe theirs as “fair” or “poor.” By banning credit checks, the city could help reduce racial discrimination in employment, as well as assist those who are unemployed simply due to tough times, and not a lack of responsibility.
The Council seats 51 members, and 40 of them are sponsors of the bill. Mayor Bill de Blasio has also been supportive of the legislation, at least in theory, but has not actually endorsed the bill. Similar legislation was introduced in 2013, but did not pass.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, pre-employment drug tests
A Chicago alderman has introduced a new ordinance that would require pre-employment drug testing — and subsequent annual drug testing — for all ride-sharing companies’ drivers within the city. Councilman Roderick Sawyer introduced the ordinance in September, after a drug-test mandate was eliminated from the ride-sharing ordinance that the Windy City passed in May.
The City Council was divided on May’s legislation, however. When the drug-testing language was removed from a previous ride-sharing bill, Sawyer felt he had to vote against it.
“We want to make sure our constituents are safe and have a safe ride,” said Sawyer. “It should have stayed in.”
The new ordinance requires that any ride-share driver pass pre-employment drug testing prior to receiving a license to carry passengers, as well as prior to renewing existing licenses.
Drug tests would also be required to be administered by a City Hall-approved company, under the ordinance. Companies and drivers that do not comply would be subject to per-incident fines up to $1,000, as well as license revocation for at least a year.
Chicago and other Illinois cities are able to create their own ordinances for ride-share companies after Governor Pat Quinn vetoed legislation in August, which would have placed stricter regulations on ride-share companies state-wide.
No timeframe has been set for voting on the new ordinance.
California also recently attempted to pass legislation mandating pre-employment drug testing for drivers; the bill did not pass.
photo credit: Armando G Alonso via photopin cc
Posted in background checks, ban the box, criminal background checks, pre-employment background checks
At the beginning of September, Washington D.C. passed its own ban-the-box law, joining the ranks of many other cities and states in preventing employers from requiring job applicants to state whether or not they have ever been convicted of a crime on an initial job application or during a first interview.
The new law, called the Fair Criminal Record Screening Act of 2014, applies to any employer — public, private, or government entity — with more than 10 employees. The court system is excluded from the law, as are positions in which federal or district law requires a candidate to pass background checks prior to hiring, such as those working for schools, nursing homes and day care centers.
Background checks may only be conducted once a conditional employment offer has been extended to a candidate; even then, the offer may only be revoked if it is for a “legitimate business reason,” per the D.C. Council.
“This is critically important,” said Kenyan McDuffie, who is a member of the D.C. Council. “It allows returning citizens to be judged on their merits prior to consideration of their past.”
Furthermore, under the Act, if a candidate feels they have been passed over for a position based upon their criminal conviction — and the conviction would not affect the candidate’s ability to do the job — he or she may file a complaint to the D.C. Office of Human Rights. If the Office of Human Rights determines that the law has been violated, it will then fine the offending employer on a sliding scale, based on the number of employees that company maintains.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed the legislation, which will go into effect at the beginning of October, pending mandatory review by Congress.
photo credit: VinothChandar via photopin cc
Posted in employment
At the beginning of September, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research released a study on how the 50 states (and Washington D.C.) rank as far as women’s equality in employment and wages. This study has been in progress since 1996.
Washington D.C. ranked the highest as far as equality between men and women, due to a high percentage of white-collar jobs and government opportunities for women. Close behind were Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.
Meanwhile, the states that are lagging furthest behind when it comes to wage and employment equality are West Virginia, Alabama and Louisiana, along with several other southern states.
The study showed that New Mexico has seen the greatest improvement in women’s pay equality since 2006 — when the study’s data was last released — leaping from 44th place to 23rd.
The states were given letter grades and ranked based on more than 100 indicators, which included women’s participation in the workforce, the full-time pay ratio between men’s earnings and women’s earnings, median annual income and social factors such as work/family balance, poverty and reproductive rights.
For more information about the study, or to see where your state landed, visit the IWPR website. You can also view a state-by-state profile here.
Posted in babysitting, background checks, criminal background checks, potential babysitter, Washington Post
Many working parents have childcare needs, and if local family members are not available (and willing!) to do babysitting duty, parents often look to the community for good childcare. For some families, the best option is a day care center with full-time childcare staff, while others prefer smaller care facilities or even home-based caregivers who only supervise a few children at a time. All of these can be great options, but there are different considerations to take based on what type of care you prefer.
The Washington Post recently ran a piece about what you should take into consideration when choosing a home day center for your children, including checking whether the facility has a license or not (some states don’t require one for home-based care, so long as a limited number of children are present), what kind of training certifications the caretaker(s) has, and whether or not the caretaker has undergone a background check.
Because Mind Your Business started as a way for founder Karen Caruso to find a nanny for her own children, we’d like to take the Post’s advice a step further, and suggest that you do your own advanced background check if you’re going to use home-based or unlicensed childcare options.
For those home-based caregivers that don’t have a license, there is no governing entity that ensures any kind of background checks or inspections have occurred. This means that literally anyone could be taking care of your child and there is no one to regulate what happens inside the home.
Therefore, in addition to speaking to the caregiver about what kind of background checks they have undergone or require for their own part-time or full-time employees, we recommend that you conduct your own advanced background check, through a background screening service, on the following people:
- The caregiver — to ensure there is no criminal record that would put your child at risk. If the caregiver is reputable, they should not have a problem with you wanting to verify their record is clean.
- Any other adults living in the caregiver’s home — even if other adults are not present during the day, when children will be cared for, you want to ensure that no other adults in the household have felony records or are sex offenders. Unlike with licensed day care centers or schools, there are not restrictions on sex offenders living in unlicensed home day-care, at least in some states.
- Any other aides or helpers that come in either part- or full-time to assist with childcare — and be sure to request that if any new workers are hired while your child is still receiving care, you be given their names to conduct checks as well.
- The neighborhood — if you’d like, you can do a sweep of the sex offender registry to see if any live in the neighborhood in which your home care is located. While it may be unlikely your child would come in contact with any of the neighbors, you may feel better if you are aware of who is in the area.
Mind Your Business is able to assist you with any advanced background check you need to conduct, and understands the importance of your child’s safety. For more information about how to conduct childcare checks, contact us today.
Posted in employment
According to a news release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, August didn’t bring much good news for job seekers across several large industries. Those industries — including manufacturing, financial, government, transportation and trade — remained essentially unchanged from July as far as new jobs created. In addition, the number of retail jobs available actually decreased, thanks to a large loss of food store jobs in the northeast.
But it wasn’t all bad news. The unemployment rate stayed steady at 6.1 percent in August, and the number of unemployed people is still 9.6 million. Over the past 12 months, the unemployment rate has dropped by 1.1 percent. The number of people who have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks also declined in August, with 192,000 fewer people considered long-term unemployed.
In addition, the average hourly wage rose in August to $24.53, an increase of 6 cents per hour.
Approximately 142,000 new non-farm jobs were added in other industries in August, though this is still a decrease from the average monthly job gain over the previous 12 months (212,000 jobs per month). The new jobs available include: 47,000 positions in professional and business services, most of them administrative or support jobs; 34,000 healthcare positions, including new doctors and hospital positions; 22,000 jobs in food services; and 20,000 new construction jobs, particularly those for specialty contractors.
Posted in background screening, Facebook, pre-employment background checks, social media background checks
Some police agencies in California have been requiring prospective employees to hand over their social media passwords during background screening, or risk losing out on a job.
California passed a law two years ago preventing employers from asking applicants for social media passwords, but there is a loophole: the wording of the law makes it unclear whether the law applies to all employers, or only private employers.
“We interpret [the law] as only applying to private employers,” said Police Chief Ken Corney, of Ventura, Calif.
Some police departments in the state still require job applicants to hand over their Facebook, Twitter and other social media passwords in order to comb through anything that has been hidden by privacy settings. This applies to not only law-enforcement positions, but also “sensitive” non-police jobs, such as corrections officers and dispatchers.
Alternatively, some departments ask candidates to bring up their social media accounts in front of their prospective employer. Some departments require password information when current employees switch jobs within the organization as well.
When the author of the original law, Assemblywoman Nora Campos, attempted to pass legislation closing the loophole this year, she received opposition from police management groups that were concerned that they would not be able to screen candidates thoroughly without access to an individual’s social media accounts.
However, those who supported the new bill expressed concern that if police agencies are able to require passwords, then other public employers, such as school districts, may be able to require social media passwords as well.
The bill was dropped in favor of letting the courts decide whether law enforcement agencies have the right to ask for passwords, or if the law applies universally to both private and public employees.
Photo credit: railking via Free Images
Posted in background legislation, drug and alcohol testing
While ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber have withdrawn their opposition to a newly introduced bill requiring large amounts of insurance on drivers without passengers, for a brief moment the two competitors put aside their differences and became allies against California’s proposed bill AB 2293.
In its original form, AB 2293 — which was proposed by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla — would have required ride-sharing companies or drivers to maintain $750,000 in commercial insurance on each driver, sans passengers, at all times. When a driver picked up a passenger, the insurance would be required to jump to $1 million in coverage. While Uber and Lyft already require their drivers to maintain the $1 million insurance requirement when they have a passenger in the vehicle, they have not previously been required to maintain such a large amount of commercial insurance when there no passengers were present.
However, Uber and Lyft were able to get on board with the new requirements when the bill was amended to state that the drivers must have $200,000 in excess liability coverage for times in which no passengers are in the vehicle, as well as $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident coverage for personal injury protection. They also must have $30,000 in property damage coverage. In this format, the bill headed to the state Senate at the end of August.
A second bill that affects ride-sharing companies never made it out of the gate, however. California’s AB 612, which was sponsored by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, did not make it past the Transportation Committee. This bill would have strengthened drug and alcohol testing and background checks for drivers by requiring companies to go through the Justice Department and Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct background checks and acquire driving records.
In addition, that bill would have also prevented convicted felons from working as drivers within seven years of their convictions, which is already mandatory for taxi and limo drivers.
Posted in background checks, criminal background checks
An investigation into the Denver Human Services department has found that DHS has routinely failed to conduct federal criminal and fingerprint background checks on the next-of-kin for children who have been removed from their homes due to parental neglect or abuse. Once removed from their parents by DHS, children are often placed with their next-of-kin temporarily, and a lack of screening has put these children at risk of further abuse.
The purpose of requiring fingerprint background checks is twofold: first, it prevents children from going to a home in which their caregivers have been previously convicted of sex offenses or violent crimes, and second, the checks verify that the caregivers are, in fact, related, and that they are who they say they are. It ensures that criminal background checks are actually being conducted on the proper person as well. This kind of screening is mandatory in Colorado.
Four employees of DHS were suspended earlier this year after placing children in the homes of relatives, in which their next-of-kin were either convicted of child abuse, or were registered sex offenders. After these errors came to light, DHS began reviewing all “kinship cases” to ensure fingerprint background checks had actually been conducted.
The DHS Director, Penny May, told investigators in July that the department does have fingerprinting and background screening policies, and that they follow procedure in ensuring caregivers are properly screened. Joe Homlar, the Child Welfare Department head at DHS, has said that there will be a review of all files, and that he is not aware that there are many cases in which fingerprint checks had not been conducted.
Posted in education checks, employment checks
There are many ways that candidates can commit resume fraud when applying for jobs: lying about their experience or education, exaggerating duties or management experience, or even omitting details such as their reason for leaving a previous job. The only surefire way to protect your business from fraud is to verify the candidate’s education and employment history. But what is employment verification, and how can you use it to find the best possible candidates for your company?
Consider the recent case of a Virginia elementary school principal that resigned when a background check revealed that he had not completed college. The man worked in the school district for five years — two of those years as a principal — and it wasn’t until a background check was conducted during his fifth year that his resume fib was discovered.
These kinds of stories are hardly a rarity anymore, as it has become so easy to verify employment history and education. The problem is that too many businesses are skipping that step in favor of saving a couple bucks and getting a candidate in the door immediately. But that tactic can cost your business and the candidate a lot more in the long run.
In order to verify a candidate’s employment or education, you should consider hiring a background screening company. Hiring a service whose sole purpose is to conduct background checks takes the pressure off your human resources department, by allowing them to focus on the hiring process instead of spending valuable time trying to get a hold of every candidate’s complete employment or educational history. A screening service like Mind Your Business has the time and resources to devote to tracking down previous employers, even across multiple states or countries.
In addition to confirming that the candidate has told the truth about his or her education or employment experiences, background checking companies can also determine if a candidate has a criminal history. While it’s becoming more and more common for states to have ban-the-box laws, some jobs — such as schools, daycares, nursing homes and law enforcement — require candidates to pass all background checks before working with children or the elderly. The Virginia principal should have been required a background check years earlier, but without a screening company, it’s easy for overworked human resources departments or education administrators to get overwhelmed and distracted from its goal of keeping children safe.
So what is employment verification? It’s a means of protecting your business, your employees and your finances, by eliminating unqualified candidates immediately from the hiring pool. For more information about education and employment verification services and other good hiring practices, contact Mind Your Business today.
photo credit: markgranitz via photopin cc
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