A Bill to Require Background Checks?

A background check is often a part of employment – whether a pre-employment background check before being offered a position or a checkup-like employee background check while on the job. An article that appeared in The Sacramento Bee recently tells about a bill in the works that would require social workers to pass a background check – or not be employed. The bill right now applies to people who have contact with children, not all Child Protective Services (CPS) employees.

As detailed by the article, if this bill passes, background checks would legally be required – not just recommended – for all social workers seeking employment with CPS in California. If a pre-employment background check brings up a criminal history containing charges including assault with a deadly weapon, felony spousal abuse, child abuse, or sex offenses, then the potential social worker won’t be hired. The background for this bill is based on a recent report that indicated that seven percent of current employees with Sacramento County’s CPS have criminal histories.

Will this bill require all occupations to legally conduct background checks on prospective employees? Probably not, as some employers don’t conduct a background check or one thorough enough outside of contacting references. But, is a background check necessary for many occupations? Even if a background check isn’t legally required, one should still be done to verify a person’s previous employment history, his or her criminal history, and any other information presented on a resume and during an interview. In the case of this article, CPS is doing a disservice by not conducting thorough background checks on employees who are in contact with children. For all occupations, however, a background check gives a potential employer a picture of a candidate’s trustworthiness and having a serious criminal history, especially of recent convictions, should eliminate a candidate automatically.