Trustworthy employees are important for any business, but in some industries, they are essential. If you hire people to clean houses or handle large sums of money, you stand to suffer a huge blow if you have a criminal on staff. Criminal background checks and drug screenings can help, but you still need added protection to offset the financial loss you’ll suffer if something happens. But in order to cover one of your new hires with that type of insurance, or bond, you’ll need to make sure they have a clean record to qualify. For that reason, you’ll see the question, “Are you bondable?” on many job applications.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Bondable on a job application simply means that your record is clean enough to pass a bonding company's background check.
What Does Bondable Mean?
If you’re in the construction industry, the word bondable likely calls to mind a type of sandable glue used when working with wood. But in a hiring environment, it refers to the people you’re hiring. A bondable person is someone who qualifies for a fidelity bond, which is issued on each employee working for you. Each bond has a maximum value and covers any assets that may be stolen by the person covered by the bond. A business owner can buy a bond for his entire business and/or employees and subcontractors who do work for that business. A fidelity bond is a type of surety bond, which means it serves as a protection for its holder.
Are You Eligible to Be Bonded?
Each state has its own bonding requirements, with businesses and contractors responsible for ensuring compliance. You’ll need to show that bonds are in place in order to get permits for projects, no matter which state you live in, but in states like Washington, general and specialty contractors are required to obtain a continuous contractor’s bond. When asked if you’re bondable on your application, it simply means: Is it likely the bonding company will look at your background and see you as a trustworthy employee? Each insurer has its own requirements related to that, but in general, you should have a clean criminal record. Depending on the laws in your area, a bonding company may also pull your credit report.
What Other Background Checks are Needed?
Bonding companies aren’t the only ones concerned about an employee's background. If an employee doesn’t work out, the employer won’t get back the surety premiums paid, so the business has a responsibility to check this information, as well. For that reason, you may be asked to take a drug screening test, as well as submit to a criminal background check. If you’ve cleaned up your act and still can’t pass these tests, it might be worth looking into the U.S. Department of Labor’s Federal Bonding Program, which provides Fidelity Bonds for at-risk employees. These bonds cover the first six months of employment and offer the coverage you need to answer yes to the “Are you bondable?” question on your application.
- CoverWallet: Fidelity Bond Insurance
- JW Surety Bonds: Washington State Surety Bond Guide
- Bankrate: What It Means to Be Bonded, Licensed & Insured
- Demos: Bad Credit Shouldn't Block Employment: How to Make State Bans on Employment Credit Checks More Effective
- Bonds4Jobs: The Federal Bonding Program WHAT IS IT?
- TN.gov: Federal Bonding Program Frequently Asked Questions
Stephanie Faris is a novelist and business writer whose work has appeared on numerous small business blogs, including Zappos, GoDaddy, 99Designs, and the Intuit Small Business Blog. She worked for the State of Tennessee for 19 years, the latter six of which were spent as a supervisor. She has written about business for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2011.