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Whether you’re running a startup, own a thriving business, or heading up a volunteer organization – Massachusetts is a great place to conduct business. According to Forbes Magazine, MA is one of the best places to start or engage in business pursuits in 2023. This is largely due to the state’s established community, thriving economy, population density, and specialized talent demographics. While MA has a wealth to offer to make your business or volunteer endeavors succeed, what kind of regulations are involved when obtaining a background check in Massachusetts? This is an aspect of doing business that should never be overlooked. Therefore, we’ve formulated this guide to background checks in Massachusetts to ensure you are conducting these vital pre-screenings correctly, as well as maximizing your hiring leverage.
How PreSearch Can Help With Background Check Services in Massachusetts
Getting a background check in Massachusetts can be a complicated endeavor. From abiding by state laws to complying with federal laws and pre-screening your applicant according to pre-hire regulations – it can be a daunting task. Thankfully, there is no need to become overwhelmed by this essential pre-screen step.
With PreSearch, we make background checks effortless, fast, and painless. We provide you with all the data you need, and we do it in a timely way for an affordable price. When it comes to selecting the best applicant for your business or volunteer organization – PreSearch is the easy choice for all your needs.
What is a Background Check?
As you might expect, a background check is a process in which histories and past information is gathered on an applicant or candidate who is applying for employment or wants to be recruited for a volunteer position. Background checks can reveal a significant amount of information that can narrate how an employer or volunteer recruiter makes decisions regarding granting or denying a position to a candidate.
What is a CORI Check?
CORI stands for Criminal Offender Record Information, but what is a CORI check? This is a type of check that reveals information about criminal cases that have been adjudicated in the state courts of Massachusetts. CORI checks were established in 2005 as a way to protect vulnerable populations from potential abuse from employees in positions of authority within an organization. CORI background checks are typically run on applicants whose job entails working directly with potentially vulnerable people such as children, the elderly, or the disabled.
If you’re wondering what is included in a CORI check, it basically reveals information about any criminal activity as recorded or leads to a sentence in a MA court hearing. However, a CORI check will not produce criminal activity that may have been committed by individuals in other states, in federal courts, or in other countries.
Importance of Background Checks in Massachusetts
According to an expose released by CNBC News in 2020, approximately 78% of Americans seeking jobs have lied during the application process. This sobering figure alone should speak to the importance of background checks in Massachusetts. The reality is, you can never be sure about the person sitting in front of you applying for a position. That’s why background checks in Massachusetts are so crucial – because they provide the big picture of applicants’ histories. Furthermore, they are an essential tool in verifying, validating, and confirming crucial information.
Massachusetts Background Check Laws
Now that we’ve covered details about what is a CORI check and the importance of getting a thorough background check for trusted employees and regular applicants alike – let’s talk a bit about the federal and state of Massachusetts background check laws.
Federal Laws on Employment Background Checks
Not only should employers and recruiters abide by Massachusetts criminal background check laws, they should also adhere to federal laws in order to avoid conflicts during the pre-hire process. Here are a few federal laws all hiring entities should be aware of when conducting background checks.
Civil Rights Act, Title VII
Passed in 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was a milestone ruling that has been instrumental in reducing discrimination against applicants. The Act expressly prohibits hiring entities from denying or granting employment to individuals based on certain characteristics. For instance, Title VII forbids basing employment on an applicant’s sex, religion, gender, color, race, or political affiliation, among other characteristics.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The Fair Credit Reporting act is a federal ruling that is intended to protect consumer credit information. This Act governs how consumer information is collected, used, and distributed during the pre-hire process. In the event you require applicants to complete a credit check prior to employment, the FCRA also governs any disputes (if any) the applicant may have about any details listed on the consumer credit report.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC)
The EEOC oversees the Civil Rights Act, Title VII. It enforces anti discrimination laws so that applicants and employees are afforded the most equal employment opportunities possible in MA and in the US. It is critical to abide by EEOC laws and regulations in order to avoid hefty penalties or fines, or even lawsuits.
Massachusetts Employment Background Check Laws
Now that we’ve covered some of the major federal background check regulations, you may be curious about what the state of Massachusetts has to say about the pre-screening process. To help you navigate Massachusetts’ background check laws, here are some details every employer or recruiter should know.
Pre-employment background check laws in Massachusetts
There are several laws to adhere to in the state of MA when it comes to legally conducting a pre-hire screening. For instance, if a credit check is required, the applicant must provide written consent. Additionally, employers may not report criminal history about arrests seven years or older or civil judgments 14+ older.
Furthermore, the MA Pay Equity Act restricts employers from hiring applicants based on their past salary history. The Act also prohibits employers from inquiring about previous salary or wage rates earned in previous employment positions.
This law is relevant to both private and public employers. It specifically prohibits employers from asking or requesting an applicant to “check the box” regarding whether or not he or she has any criminal history on their record.
MA State’s Requirements for Certain Industries
As mentioned, the CORI check is exclusive to MA and is used if an applicant will be working with vulnerable populations such as the disabled, elderly, or youth. And while the FCRA is a federal law, the state has its own regulations, such as extending beyond the seven-year lookback period if the job position could earn the applicant $75,000 or more. If an applicant’s position deals with driving on a regular basis, then a driving record must be obtained. Additionally, access to an applicant’s Massachusetts criminal records must be obtained if he or she is working in the gaming industry or in certain healthcare settings.
Types of Background Checks in Massachusetts
When it comes to background checks, Massachusetts allows employers various different options. A variety of information can be obtained – as long as it is gathered according to state and federal laws. Here are a few examples of background information you can obtain in the state of MA.
Criminal Background Checks
As we’ve discussed, in some cases, criminal background checks in Massachusetts are sometimes a requirement. However, even if an applicant wouldn’t be exposed to situations that demand a criminal background check, it’s a good idea to run one anyway. And while there are laws in place that prohibit denying employment to an applicant if he or she has a criminal record in MA, this type of background check can safeguard you, your employees, and your business in the event a problem emerges in the future.
Employment Background Checks
This is the most basic type of background check in Massachusetts that most employers opt for when pre-screening applicants. It is largely composed of critical information such as education, experience, and work history. General background checks are important to assess whether or not the applicant is qualified for the position as well as verify whether he or she is who they claim to be.
How to Get a Background Check in Massachusetts
As an employer or volunteer recruiter, you also have options about how to get a background check in Massachusetts. You could opt to request a fingerprint-based or name-based search through the MA Dept. of Criminal Justice. This information will provide you with criminal activity that may have been conducted in the state of MA. However, it will not inform you if the applicant has criminal activity in other states or countries.
Therefore, your best course of action in getting a Massachusetts background check is to use a thorough and reliable company that provides accurate services for background checks, such as PreSearch. Our experienced professionals use the most cutting-edge technology and resources to produce the current and comprehensive results you need in order to make the best hiring decisions possible.
How Long Does a Background Check Take in Massachusetts?
Going through state and federal agencies to retrieve criminal history reports can take days or weeks. Additionally, relying on your human resources department or doing a background check yourself can take a significant amount of time. The truth is, tracking down all this information is a timely prospect, and that means it can also be costly in man hours.
You are at a far better advantage if you opt to get a quick background check through a reputable service provider like PreSearch. Instead of waiting around (and losing money and productivity) for results, we can provide you the information you need within a matter of days – and sometimes within the same day of your request.
How Far Back Does an Employment Background Check Go in Massachusetts?
The state of MA concedes to the FCRA federal law when it comes to how far a background check can go. This means that the lookback period is seven years. However, there are certain scenarios in which a check can go past that standard seven-year lookback period. For instance, looking into an applicant’s work and educational history can go past the seven-year mark.
What Can Be Found in a Massachusetts Background Check?
The details on background checks in Massachusetts depend mostly on what you need and how you go about obtaining this information. Here are a few things you can expect to receive when you request a background check from our quick and reliable pre-screening services.
- Employment history
- Education verification and history
- Criminal history records in Massachusetts
- Sex offender registry in Massachusetts
- Driving records in Massachusetts
- Verification of social security number and name trace
- Address history trace in Massachusetts
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Background Check in Massachusetts
If you request a state-generated criminal background check, you can expect to pay around $25 per name-based request. Bear in mind this could take up to 15 days for you to receive. Additionally, this report will only provide you with criminal activity (if any) that took place in the state of MA.
A far better value for your investment is to get a full-scale, comprehensive Massachusetts background check from PreSearch. We offer you a buffet of different options you can choose from, ranging from national criminal history, to international background checks. We also offer education and work history information and credit reports – all conducted within the letter of state and federal laws.
*a select number of states charge an additional, mandatory, county court fee in addition to our standard service fee.
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