Excellent. You’ve found your dream hire. After weeks of searching, resume-scanning and interviews, you’ve found the right person to join your team. They had a solid resume and during their interviews they seemed friendly, capable and like an overall good fit for your team. You’re ready to present them with an employment contract. Almost.
Pre Employment Screening & Background Checks
There’s only so much you can glean about a candidate from their resume and cover letter. Interviews are a great opportunity to get to know a candidate a little better, but people tend to put their best foot forward in such situations. I work too hard and I care too much are probably the most common, but least candid, answers to the what’s your biggest flaw question.
Background checks are an employer’s opportunity to fact check a job candidate. This pre employment screening could mean verifying their educational credentials, getting feedback from former bosses or checking to see if they have a criminal record.
As an employer, you will no doubt want to know as many details as possible about your top candidate before hiring them. But you must also give every candidate a fair chance and be reasonable in what information you gather.
Privacy Law in Canada
It is essential that, as an employer, you know and understand the limits of what information you can and cannot collect about your job candidate and how it should be handled upon collection. Background checks are governed by privacy law. The Federal Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act regulate what is permissible for background checks in the public sector. For federally regulated industries like banking and telecommunications, background checks are guided by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). In the private sector, employee information isn’t always subject to privacy law.
Background Checks in Canada – Be Reasonable
Any type of background check should be done in good faith. You may want to gather as much information as possible before hiring a candidate, but you also need to be reasonable about the relevance of the information you gather to the candidate’s ability to perform their job. Do you need to know your cashier’s driving record? Does your science tutor’s credit record matter?
What To Consider When Performing A Background Check
Informed consent is always the best practice when collecting information about potential employees. Your collection of information should also be reasonable in its scope, use and disclosure. When performing a background check:
- don’t collect more information than what you need or is relevant to the job position;
- only use the information for the purpose for which it was stated to be used;
- properly store and protect the information so that it is only accessible to those for whom it is relevant;
- make all personal information you collect about a potential employee available to them to view and verify its veracity; and
- delete or destroy the information once it is no longer needed or necessary.
Background checks open up the possibility for a wide range of discrimination concerns. It is illegal to ask questions about a candidate’s age, sex, place of origin or other human rights-protected grounds during the application process. The Human Rights Commission even prohibits you from refusing employment because of a summary offence (i.e. a minor driving related conviction) or because someone has been convicted of a criminal offence for which they’ve received a pardon.
Background checks can often turn up information about a candidate’s age, citizenship and other human-rights protected grounds and can therefore lead to accusations of discrimination depending on how the check impacts your hiring decisions.
Therefore, it is best to make a conditional offer of employment pending the results of the background check. Additionally, you should make it clear from the outset to all candidates what background checks will be performed and why. This way, all applicants can expect the same treatment and, as long as the relevant background checks come up clean, the job.
Background Checks Conclusions
Now that you have a basic overview of the laws and best practices governing background checks, you’re ready to learn about the specific types of background checks available to employers and how and when they can be reasonably conducted. Stay tuned for next week’s blog where we’ll delve into the details of half a dozen different types of background checks.
Legal Advice For Background Checks
If you’re an employer who’s hiring and looking to conduct background checks on your candidates, contact KCY at LAW for the employment law expertise you need to get yourself the best candidate. Call us on (905) 639-0999 or fill out our online form here for more information.