N.C. School Board to Start Employee Background Checks

For many industries, employee background checks – also called “routine background screenings” – may seem excessive. However, in certain industries in which money is handled or in which children, the elderly, or the disabled are given care or supervision, employee background checks create a safer, more dependable workforce.

As a result of this notion, the Johnston County Board of Education in Smithfield, N.C. recently revealed it plans to start conducting such periodic screenings on its staff and teachers.

Previously, background checks were only conducted during hiring. Now, district employees will have their criminal history occasionally pulled and examined. Ramifications regarding this new practice, however, have not been revealed.

Just like pre-employment background checks, employee screenings are never identical and consistent. It appears, at least from the basic news story, that the Johnston County Board of Education will be conducting strictly criminal background checks. Nevertheless, as credit is a growing factor in hiring, particularly for those in the financial field or those handling money, periodic credit checks are another possibility.

As the result of the recent Sandusky scandal at Penn State, higher education institutions are additionally revising their policies to include employee background checks on teachers, staff, and even volunteers.

What can happen in response to routine background screenings? Much like pre-employment background checks, results are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and, in many instances, employees may be given a time period to clean up their report.

Employers, however, aren’t always as understanding. As was the case with Navy contractor background checks done after new federal homeland security requirements, a large percentage of contract workers were terminated after their routine reports brought back issues. Because these workers were not full-time employees, the negative marks on their screenings were not revealed at the time, and they had no recourse.

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