Running Background Checks on Current Employees

how common is it and for what reasons would they be performed?

We all are familiar with running background checks on prospective employees, but how common is it to run background checks on current employees? First of all, you should know that running a background check on any employee at any stage is perfectly legal as long as the procedures for running background checks are still properly in place.

This means that no matter when an employer decides to run checks on its team, they must first obtain consent. But that’s not the only thing that must be considered. But first let's consider under what circumstances an employer might feel the need to run checks on an existing worker.

The background screening may not involve an employee’s criminal background. Insurance carriers may require an annual Driver License Motor Vehicle Report or MVR check on employees who operate a company car during their work shift.




Of course there are other less than savory reasons for running a background report on employees. For instance, should an employer suspect an employee of being arrested, they may also ask to run a new background check.

It is the employer’s job to ensure the staff’s safety so running a background check on a worker believed to have been arrested could mean saving the lives of several people or at the very least, keeping them out of harm's way.

If an employee is promoted from one position to another, it may require that a background screening again be conducted. This may come into play for a new role dealing with large sums of cash.


In this case, the reason for a new background check would be to safeguard against potential theft or financial harm to the business, where a credit check and or criminal background check may be requested.

Another reason an employer might request a background check is if they suspect serious reasons for a sudden decline in an employee's work performance. Should an employee develop a substance abuse issue, for instance, while operating potentially dangerous machinery, a background check could be just the thing to keep everyone in that employee’s path safe.

Any security threat at all may be a valid excuse for requesting a new background check from an existing employee. As long as there is reasonable suspicion or precaution, an employer is well within their rights for the request.




While it is legal to perform background checks on existing employees, you might be surprised to find that this is a rare act in most workplaces. Perhaps this is due to the labor involved or awkwardness of making such a request in a highly litigious field.

With so many reasons for running new background screenings on employees, the employer is no less required to go through adequate procedures when obtaining these reports.

Employers must comply with federal regulations enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC. These laws protect employees from discrimination. Complying with the EEOC means that an employer must apply the same standards to everyone, regardless of their race, national origin, color, sex, religion and genetic and medical history, disability or age.




The employer must also follow the laws as regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when performing background checks. FCRA policies are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and could mean serious penalties and fines for an employer not following procedures down to the letter.

The FCRA steps in for cases in which an employer attempts to run credit history reports. Employers must comply with the FCRA whether they perform the report themselves or it is done by a hired third party.

So, what is the norm when considering how often existing employees should be subject to an employee background check? Industry best practices dictate that employers should hold a policy in which they ask every employee for a new background screening performed annually.