Archive for April, 2012

EEOC Updates Guidance on use of Criminal Records in Employment Decisions

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Employee background check, pre-employment criminal background checkThis week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated guidelines regarding employers’ use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions. The ruling was made pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The new guidance updates and clarifies the EEOC’s previous policy, in an effort to help job seekers, employees and employers. The report discusses how using criminal history reports could violate Title VII, how federal court decisions analyzing Title VI as applied to criminal records, compliance with other federal laws that restrict or prohibit employing individuals with certain criminal records, and the differences between treatment of arrest and conviction records, among other topics.

While little of the guidance document is new, it does consolidate a series of documents in one place. One HR group spokesperson said it does not appear “to impose a one-size fits-all set of rules” and seems to consider employers’ disparate needs and concerns when using criminal background checks for pre-employment screening.

However, there appear to be potential conflicts between this document and state laws that require criminal background checks in certain industries and positions.

Among the groups showing support for the new guidance include civil rights law groups. One issued a statement saying that it will “greatly reduce the misuse of criminal history background checks to deny employment to persons of color,” because the guidance strengthens enforcement efforts against employers who are not using criminal background checks properly.

A Q and A page on the EEOC’s Enforcement Guidance can be found here. It reinforces that Title VII does not prohibit employers from obtaining criminal background reports on job applicants.

California Court Says Employees Can Work Through Lunch

Friday, April 13th, 2012

employee screening blogCalifornia employment laws have long stated that employers must provide employees with a meal break. But the law was unclear regarding whether employees are prohibited from performing work during that time, or if they may work if they choose to.

A San Diego Superior Court decided that they may indeed engage in work during their meal breaks. The court ruled that employers fulfill their obligation when they give employees a 30 minute break and relieve them of all duties, give up control of their activities and when the employer gives a “reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted break, and does not impede or discourage them from doing so.”

If the employer does all that, and employees still want to work, they have the right to do so. The unanimous ruling was seen as a victory for employers. Another part of the decision specifies that employees must get one meal break for every 10 hours of work, rather than a break for every five hours, as some employee advocate groups had argued.

Employers will no longer be required to “babysit” employees, say some. As long as they make meal breaks available and encourage employees to take them, they are not liable for claims brought by employees that they didn’t receive them.

Employers are not allowed to apply pressure or provide incentives to work without breaks. And they must pay employees for any work performed. However, they are liable only for straight pay, not overtime pay—unless the extra 30 minutes puts the employee in an overtime situation.

The ruling came as a result of an eight-year legal battle against the company that owns Chili’s restaurants, for allegedly requiring employees to work through meal and rest breaks. Employees claimed that they were made to clock out for breaks, but to continue working through them.

Hiring For Skill

Friday, April 6th, 2012

pre employment screening, employee background checkAs the economy recovers, more employers will be hiring to replace those workers they’ve been doing without. If you’re dipping a toe back into the hiring pool, here are some tips that can help you do it better.

An improving job market could mean employers will be competing for the most skilled and talented workers. This is where your networking skills come in. Talk to your contacts, whether in your industry or not, to get information on the hiring scene in your area. Who were the #2 and #3 candidates for the position just filled at a peer company? Who’s now hiring for similar jobs? Can you get any recommendations from those hiring managers? Are there state or local government agencies that have cut staff lately? Find out who’s been laid off.

What is the overriding skill set needed to succeed in your organization? If you’re in a technical business, you’ll need to focus on recruiting workers with the right technical expertise. If it’s a service business you’re hiring for, it doesn’t really matter where your recruits have worked before, if the have exceptional people skills. And an employee with drive, a great attitude and integrity can be an asset to nearly every type of business.

What about job-hoppers or career-switchers? Is that a sign of boredom or great flexibility? Individuals who like new challenges are natural learners. They catch on quickly to new tasks, and could be well suited to a health care or high-tech environment.

Once you hire highly skilled employees, let them do their jobs. Allow workers to collaborate with their peers. Give them challenges that require creativity and problem solving skills, and let them grow. Letting go like this can be tough for many managers. It’s a risk, for sure, and there will be some mistakes made along the way. But in the long term, employees who feel trusted and empowered are happier and more productive.

Cultivate a culture of open discussion and shared goals. Encourage employees to keep you informed of any problems they encounter. If you look at your job as a director of resources, you can help remove roadblocks and solve problems.

Hiring highly skilled workers and keeping them engaged will go along way to making your company more successful.

When hiring new employees, be sure to conduct proper background screening. The best pre-employment screening process includes employee background checks, employee credit checks, and criminal background checks. You’ll know you’re hiring safe when you screen employees before offering a position.