Cutting Background Checks, Increasing Abuse?

When is an employment background check particularly important? In almost all employment instances, a background check is important to determine a person’s trustworthiness, but it is especially crucial when a worker will be dealing directly with people. Whether as a social worker dealing with children, a hospital employee working directly with patients, or a caretaker for the elderly and disabled, a person should have a clean history for employment and criminal history to prevent abuse and neglect. In an article that recently appeared on Fox 25 Boston’s website, the state’s Disabled Person’s Protection Commission (DPPC) decided in April 2009 to cut background checks on employers working with the disabled in the state. Cutting out background checks for these employees would save them $60,000 per year but, as cases of abuse against the disabled are on the rise in the state, is this an ethical decision?

A background check is almost always necessary for employment, especially as any recent criminal history should be taken into account. In the case of this article, a person trying to get a position involving work with the disabled, either as a caretaker or as a worker at a group home, wouldn’t have to go through a background check that could bring up a criminal history or any employment history involving past employment complaints. While a criminal history for certain charges won’t completely bar a person from ever being employable, in the case of workers with the disabled in Massachusetts, the workers should have a clean record and work history. Without examining these two key pieces of information for people working with vulnerable, dependant people, the disabled could be subject to caretakers with a past of abuse and criminal behavior, which could lead to further abuse of the person he or she is supposed to be taking care of.