This article is about background checks for businesses to understand when a company is in their right to conduct a background check on perspective and existing employees.
In Canada, it is legal and permissible to conduct pre-hiring/post-hiring background checks. This practice is becoming more common and it is considered a valuable component in a company’s recruitment process to have background checks completed. However, caution should be exercised as it can raise human rights and invasion of privacy issues for employers.
Performing these checks can confirm to the company a peace of mind that they are hiring the best candidate for the job. Examples of common pre-hiring background checks include Criminal Background Checks, Employment History Verification, Education History Verification, Credit Checks, and Reference Checks.
Employers must have an established, valid reason for conducting background checks, generally completed for legal and insurance purposes. It should be clearly defined as to why the background check is deemed an occupational requirement and recommended to consult with a lawyer or your corporate insurance carriers before you decide to conduct pre-hiring background checks.
Note: Employers also have the option to conduct ongoing background checks on current employees, however, there should be a reason for the check such as a conviction that has come to your attention or a company policy that outlines how ongoing background checks are administered.
It is crucial to remember that the employer must always obtain written consent before doing any kind of background checks on prospective or current employees. It is against an individual’s human rights and is an invasion of privacy to perform any background check without their consent to have one completed.
This process may seem daunting and labour intensive, however, if done through an accredited third-party vendor, the employer is alleviated from the administrative duties and is assured the check is legally compliant. It is important to remain unbiased when completing background checks, do not run checks for some individuals and not for others.
Here is a strong selection of reputable Canadian background check vendors to consider:
- Triton: Pre-Employment Screenings in Canada
- Sterling Check: Background Checks and Background Screening
- SureHire: Services – SureHire | Occupational Health Testing (also conduct OH&S pre-employment testing)
- HireRight: Background Checks in Canada
Conducting background checks through these companies can range between $29.99 to $79.99 per person; depending on the services required, size of the company, and how many checks are expected to be completed annually.
If a background check does not pass the company’s occupational requirements, the employer is in their full right to rescind a job offer. They must however be ready to share the facts and why the decision was made to not move forward. For example, “I’m sorry to inform you Mr. Smith, but your extortion conviction dating back three years ago does not provide us with enough confidence to move forward with your employment as the Financial Advisor at this time.”
It is crucial in background checks to keep your records on file for at least two years from the close of the job posting, which includes records on anyone that had a conditional job offer and was screened. This ensures you are protected in case a former perspective employee or current employee wants a copy of it or for future legal issues.
Remember, a pre-hiring background check is an optional step in the hiring process, however, it can protect the company from employing a bad hire and reduces the risk of legal and liability costs. It is important to always consult with lawyers or your insurance provider to ensure if the pre-hiring background checks are required for any position, especially for those in Executive roles, Law, Financial Support, Information Technology, Healthcare and/or Childcare & Education.