Pros & Cons of Criminal Background Checks for Employment

by Sara Melone; Updated September 26, 2017
A criminal background check can find an applicant's criminal record.

Preemployment background checks are standard practice for many employers, such as schools, law enforcement agencies and most federal organizations. In recent years, more and more employers have begun to implement criminal background checks to verify the history of job applicants. While criminal background checks are commonplace and offer many benefits, they also come with downsides.

Workplace Safety

A Matter of Fact suggests that successful criminal background checks reduce the instances of workplace violence and protect overall worker safety. In any workplace, it is the employer's responsibility to create and sustain a safe and healthy environment for the employees. One of the ways an employer can ensure workplace safety is to avoid hiring individuals who have a criminal record or a history of violence. A criminal background check can bring to light any instances of illegal activity or unpredictable behavior that an applicant is trying to conceal.

Time and Expense

On the downside, many employers face a challenge when it comes to meeting the costs of criminal background checks for employment applicants. A Matter of Fact reports that it can cost an employer anywhere from $50 to $150, as of 2011, to conduct a basic criminal background check. A more in-depth criminal background check can start at $200 and run as high as $500. For an employer who must interview several applicants for one open position, the costs add up quickly. In addition, it takes time for a background check to be completed and some employers lose the opportunity to hire a qualified candidate who finds another position while awaiting the results of a background check.

Reduced Liability

According to CV Tips, an employer can protect against possible lawsuits by conducting a thorough criminal background check on all job applicants. A criminal background check can uncover vital information such as an applicant's criminal history, prior arrest record and previous employment history. This information allows the employer to make an informed hiring decision and avoid accepting an individual who could prove to be a liability based on a criminal record or possible insider industry knowledge resulting from prior employment.

Errors

Another downside of criminal background checks is the chance of errors or omissions in an individual's report. In some cases, an individual might have negative information that is reported against him inaccurately. Until he has the chance to correct such inaccuracies, the applicant could still be denied a job opportunity because of an incorrect report.

About the Author

Sara Melone is a mother of three and a graduate of UNH. With prior careers in insurance and finance, photography, as well as certifications in fitness and nutrition, Melone draws directly from past experience and varying interests. She contributes with equal passion to birth journals, investment blogs, and self-help websites.

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