Criminal History Checks

As an employer, your first responsibility towards your employees is to ensure that the environment in which they are spending a considerable amount of their day is safe from any potential security threat and that their health and lives are not at risk. One factor that adds to the safety of the workplace is the actions and behavior exhibited by other employees. To make sure the safety of your employees is not threatened by the actions of their colleagues, it is impertinent to carry out criminal history checks at the time of the recruiting and hiring process. Screening the candidates for a job thoroughly can help you weed out the potentially dangerous applicants and save yourself a lot of trouble.

Criminal History Checks

What are criminal history checks?

Background investigations in the criminal record or lack thereof, are checks that employers carry out as a way of securing information about potential hires from sources other than the applicants themselves. A background investigation generally involves determining whether an applicant may be unqualified for a position due to a record of a criminal conviction. A legal investigation into an applicant’s or current employee’s past can help the organization make informed decisions about whether to hire, promote, contract with, or use said individual’s services. Depending on the type of criminal background check that the employer or organization decides to use, a criminal record check may search national, federal, state, and county databases to provide information about a candidate’s criminal history. 

The information about the types of offenses that can be obtained from criminal record checks depends on the types of court records being looked through. For example, if the employer looks through only one state’s criminal records database, they will only receive information on criminal activity in said state’s criminal court system. For this reason, employers often choose to search multiple states on the basis of where the candidate has lived, or if a nationwide search reveals criminal activity in more than one state. In Australia, a state based police check like a police check in Victoria is essentially the same as a national police check.

What information should you look for as an employer?

As an employer, you will first have to figure out what your screening goals are; these depend on the work that the job entails or the position the employee or recruit is about to fill. 

Most commonly, organizations check criminal records to learn about any misdemeanors or felonies in a candidate’s background, such as assault, theft, burglary, or DUIs; and sometimes look into the sex offender registry as well. Employers may also require their recruits or current employees whose background you are looking into to have the national police clearance after going through the Australian Police Check.

Why are criminal history checks important for HR professionals?

Employers and organizations often run criminal background checks to make sure that a candidate or current employee is honest, trustworthy, or may potentially pose a threat to others. Carrying out a thorough screening of the recruits and employees can also help protect the valuable assets of the company, mitigate risk, and avoid potential liabilities in negligent hiring lawsuits. If the employer fails to take this into account, the resulting damages can run into millions of dollars. Therefore the corners some employers try to cut to “save” by not carrying out proper background checks can sometimes end up costing them heaps more than the cost of taking a quick look into recruits’ or employees’ backgrounds. 

Performing a background check can also uncover crucial information that was either mistakenly or intentionally omitted – such as residency in other regions where a criminal record might be located. These reports promote a safe and profitable workplace where both the workers and the customers can feel safe and comfortable.


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