Report: 51% of Organizations Aren’t Sure Their Background Check Policy Is Compliant

Karen Axelton
February 07, 2024
5 min read

Checkr’s State of Screening Compliance report finds half of organizations lack confidence in a compliant policy, exposing them to legal risk. Here’s how to help ensure yours isn’t.

A comprehensive, updated background check policy is critical for maintaining compliance. But most hiring teams lack confidence in their business’s background check policy, according to Checkr’s 2024 State of Screening Compliance report. Our recent survey of employees involved in background check processes (who are not current Checkr customers) revealed some surprising—and concerning—findings.

    • 51% of respondents either are not completely confident that their background check policy complies with federal, state, and local laws, or don’t have a background check policy at all.

    • 50% of respondents are not completely confident that they have policies to prevent discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin during the background screening process.

Without a thorough and current background check policy, your organization could be at risk of legal liability and reputational harm. If you aren’t confident in your background check policy (or don’t have one), creating or updating your policy can support compliance, increase team efficiency, and reduce the chance that your screening practices are unintentionally excluding qualified candidates from your hiring flow.

Check out our State of Screening Compliance report to learn more about background check policy best practices, insights into 2024 compliance trends, and tips on avoiding common violations—and read on for three ways a background check policy can benefit your organization.

Unintentional legal violations during the background screening process can expose your organization to costly litigation. A written background check policy helps to mitigate risk in several ways.

    • Communicate legal requirements for background checks. Laws regulating background checks in employment change constantly and vary from one jurisdiction to another. Compliance can be confusing, especially for employers hiring in multiple locations. Your background check policy gives your team a roadmap they can follow to ensure screenings follow all applicable laws.

    • Create consistent processes. Just 18% of respondents in our report have a dedicated background check team. When employees aren’t compliance experts, your background check policy can guide them in following all the steps required by law, such as adverse action.

    • Promote safer business practices. Each organization faces unique potential risks based on factors such as industry, size, and location. Collaborating with your legal counsel can help you develop a background check policy that takes these risks into account.

Unlock opportunity and comply with fair hiring laws 

Preventing discrimination in your hiring flow not only supports compliance, but benefits your organization in other ways. Compliant background checks do more than mitigate employer risk. By helping to prevent discrimination in hiring, they amplify possibilities for both candidates and employers. Candidates get a fair chance at hiring; organizations expand their candidate pool to include more diverse individuals.

1 in 3 Americans has a history of criminal conviction or arrest. Excluding these candidates limits your hiring options and may also inadvertently support illegal, discriminatory practices that violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Even unintentional discrimination can expose your organization to legal risk.

In addition to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance, employers may want to also consider the growing number of Clean Slate laws, Ban the Box, and the trend toward marijuana legalization. These laws help prevent discrimination against candidates with criminal justice involvement, but also make background check compliance more complex, especially when hiring in multiple jurisdictions.

Unintentional discrimination in hiring can result in costly lawsuits and keep qualified workers from joining your organization. A background check policy that embraces fair chance hiring practices by providing guidelines for adjudication and individualized assessment can reduce the risk of unconscious biases affecting your hiring process.

Streamline decision-making and enhance team efficiency 

A consistent, easy-to-follow background check process increases team efficiency and mitigates risk, especially if your organization, like most, lacks a dedicated background check team. In 42% of organizations, HR or onboarding teams are responsible for background screenings, according to our report. In others, the job falls to recruiting or talent acquisition, staffing agencies, operations, legal and compliance, trust and safety, or business development teams.

A comprehensive background check policy helps to ensure consistent, efficient, and compliant screenings—even if your background checks are conducted by a team with multiple responsibilities. Minimize the need for individual decision-making (and the possibility of missteps) by including information such as:

    • Who is subject to background checks

    • Which types of screenings to order for which positions

    • Steps for FCRA compliance, such as providing disclosure and consent forms and following the adverse action process

    • EEOC guidance on individualized assessments

    • Adjudication criteria for consistent screening review

Prioritize a compliance-minded approach to background checks

A comprehensive, updated background check policy is important for maintaining compliance, preventing discrimination, and streamlining your background check process. Choosing the right background check partner helps, too. Checkr supports customer compliance initiatives through our modern platform technology, and offers educational resources to inform teams about compliance best practices. Get more insights in Checkr’s 2024 State of Screening Compliance.


State of Screening Compliance

A new survey report highlights seven key insights into how organizations are managing background check compliance.


The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

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About the author

Karen Axelton writes about business topics and best practices. She has written hundreds of articles on business subjects, including background screening, hiring and employment trends, human resource management, and the use of technology in the workplace. Her work includes educational articles, e-books, white papers, and case studies.

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