California employers are allowed to conduct background checks on employees and job applicants, but there are certain laws that regulate when and how to do so. Employers must disclose certain information after performing a background check, and applicants have the right to dispute any inaccurate or incomplete information. The time needed to complete a background check may vary, but is usually less than five days. Criminal background checks in California have become more difficult and time consuming due to the restriction that requires in-person visits to county courts to confirm the identity of candidates.
Employers should check with their city and county governments for more information on the laws in their jurisdiction. Requesting this type of verification can help employers ensure that their employees have the necessary qualifications to perform their jobs and avoid claims of negligent hiring. If a national criminal background check yields a possible record, searching county records can take several days, especially in California, where personally identifiable information is extracted from criminal records and verifying county public records may require a visit to a court. When employers request employment verification, the background check will show them the dates when the candidate worked in each position and the positions they held.
If an employer conducts a background check because it suspects that the applicant has committed a crime or misconduct, the CIPA waives the requirement to give notice and obtain the applicant's consent for the background check. It also requires that employers conduct an individualized evaluation when they discover an applicant's criminal history before making the final decision not to hire the applicant. In addition to state and local laws, all California employers must comply with the federal FCRA when working with a CRA to obtain background checks and credit reports. The Riverside Superior Court has ordered that dates of birth and driver's license numbers be removed as data that can be used to identify people with criminal records, making it more difficult or even impossible for employers (and others) to perform criminal background checks.
The method chosen to perform pre-employment background checks will determine how long it will take for results to be received. This change will have an immediate impact on employment background checks in the state, as consumer reporting agencies must rely on a minimum of two identifiers to verify that a criminal record belongs to an applicant. If employers use the California Department of Justice's fingerprint background check, the results can take seven days or longer, not including the time it takes for a Live Scan operator to scan the candidate's fingerprints.