What happens if an employer runs a background check after you get hired

Learn what happens if an employer runs a background check after you get hired.


The situation may become awkward if an employer runs a background check on you after you are already hired. Today, an increasing number of companies and employers conduct pre-employment screenings and background checks to verify the authenticity of job candidates. These checks are done only after gaining consent from the candidates, so there is no invasion of privacy. In fact, job applicants have even come to expect these checks as a standard part of the hiring process, since they enable the employer to choose the best person for the job.

However, it may come as a surprise to you that your employer is legally allowed to conduct these checks, even after you are hired, years into your employment, provided they have your consent to engage in this activity.


Can employers ask how much I made at my last job?


Here are 3 situations that may call for a background check well after you have been hired.


Promotion, change in role, or responsibility


As you take on higher responsibilities at work, you may be subject to a higher level of background screening, which perhaps did not apply when you first came on board. In these cases, a new background check may be part of the promotion policy.


Change in clientele

If you work for a service-based company, certain clients may request more stringent security processes, including running fresh background checks on all employees assigned to the client. This is especially true in the case of the defense and finance industries.

For instance, if you are part of a high-security finance project and have access to people’s credit information, a check on your own credit history may be warranted. This was perhaps not required for other clients but requires a new check by your employer.


Change in company policy


Evolving company policies can also be a trigger for post-employment background checks. In this case, your employer will first need to get your consent if they haven’t already done so.


Is employee consent required every time a background check is performed?


The quick answer is ‘No’. Your employer requires your explicit consent before conducting a background check. However, the wording may be phrased to include regular, periodic checks even after employment.

These can include:

  • Rolling/continuous/frequent/periodic checks done at regular time intervals (like once every fiscal year).
  • Checks based on company policy (like after a promotion, or when you change projects/clients). This can also include HR-managed situations like low performance, or when you return to work after a long leave of absence.


Can my employer conduct a new background check without my consent?


Ideally, your employer should get your consent each time a background check is triggered. However, in order to better manage expenses and time, the wording on the consent form may be phrased to include periodic checks after you are hired.

The employer still needs your explicit consent for every type of check that is conducted.

For instance, criminal history and credit history are considered 2 different types of background checks. If your employer only got your consent for performing a criminal background check at the time of hiring and later wishes to perform a check on your credit history, they will need to get your consent for this new check.

In closing, keep in mind that your employer needs to align with FCRA regulations, which are designed to protect working professionals from any form of harassment or discrimination (the regulations may vary between states). With your consent, he or she is allowed to perform frequent background checks even after you are hired.


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