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If you are an employer in North Carolina, then you know The Tar Heel State is a great place to start a business. The state offers many business resources, including the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), which provides free or low-cost counseling and training to small businesses. The NC Department of Commerce also offers a wide range of services to help businesses succeed, including business recruitment, expansion, and development. In addition, North Carolina has one of the lowest costs of doing business in the country, according to Forbes.
But what about hiring employees? You might enjoy NC’s conducive business environment, but do you know about North Carolina background check regulations and laws? If you’re doing business in NC, then background checks are integral to the success of your organization. With that said, please read further about what you should know about North Carolina employment background check laws
What is a Background Check?
Quite simply, a background check is a measure every employer should take to assess that an applicant says who he or she says they are. A North Carolina background check gathers the requisite information on an applicant, such as criminal history, employment history, and educational background. This information is crucial in understanding if an applicant is right for the job position. It’s also essential data needed to deduce if an applicant is trustworthy for the position.
An employer should consider the type of position an employee will be in and what types of North Carolina background check is required to ensure the safety of other employees or customers or to protect company assets.
How To Get A Background Check in North Carolina
To get an employee background check in North Carolina, employers must first obtain the consent of the employee. Once the employee has given consent, the employer may request a criminal history report from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). The criminal history report will include any convictions the employee has on their record.
An employer may also request a credit check from a consumer reporting agency for current and prospective employees. A credit check may give the employer insights into an individual’s financial responsibility and dependability.
Bear in mind – obtaining a North Carolina criminal background check from the NC SBI will only provide you with a criminal history that may have been committed in the state. Alternatively, with a comprehensive background check, such as what can be obtained from the trained professionals at PreSearch, you can obtain criminal history throughout the nation and even internationally. Furthermore, our thorough pre-screen reports can offer you deeper information, such as employment history and educational history.
How Long Does an Employee Background Check Take in North Carolina?
If you’re going through the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation, this process usually takes about a week or more to receive criminal history results. And that’s just for criminal records. If you want a more thorough background check, you’ll want to contact an applicant’s previous employers, check into past educational history, call personal references, etcetera. Tracking down all this background information can take a long time. It’s also a drain on your staff if you are conducting background checks in-house. Fortunately, you can save time and money by partnering with a quick background check service, such as found in PreSearch. In many cases, PreSearch can provide you with the critical details you need within the same day. That’s a far cry from a week or two to get the data you need to make a fast, solid, educated hiring decision.
What Shows Up on a North Carolina Background Check?
When an employer in North Carolina requests a background check on an employee, they will likely receive information on the employee’s criminal history, if any. The criminal history report will include information on any felony or misdemeanor convictions within the past seven years. If the employee has been convicted of a crime within the past seven years, the report will also include information on any pending charges, probationary status, or other relevant information.
Employers should remember that conviction records are not always accurate and may contain errors. In addition to criminal history, employers may also receive information on the employee’s credit history, employment history, and education. With this in mind, employers in North Carolina rely on background check services such as PreSearch provides. We do all the work for you and ensure the full accuracy of the information we provide.
How Far Back Does a Criminal Background Check Go in North Carolina?
Most states abide by a seven-year lookback as a rule of thumb regarding how far back they may search an applicant’s background. However, when it comes to a North Carolina criminal history records check, there is no legal statute that requires or restricts employers from looking back into employment or educational history within a certain amount of time. This means that you can look into a potential candidate’s history past the standard seven-year time period.
However, there may be other limitations North Carolina employers must be aware of before diving more deeply into applicants’ histories. With that said, it is critical for all employers to adhere to all North Carolina employment background check laws. Failure to do so could lead to costly fines, penalties, or even litigation – something no employer can afford to endure.
North Carolina Background Check Laws
North Carolina is an employer-friendly state when it comes to background checks. There are no general restrictions on what employers can ask for or use as part of a background check. However, there are some specific laws that employers should be aware of. Here are the chief federal and state of North Carolina background check laws every employer should be mindful of during the pre-screening process.
Federal Laws on Employment Background Checks
In addition to state laws, employers in North Carolina must also comply with federal laws when conducting employee background checks. The most relevant federal law is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and the Civil Rights Act. Federal laws that apply to the hiring process are meant to protect both employers and employees, as well as protect applicants’ information while conducting a North Carolina background check.
Civil Rights Act, Title VII
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII of the Act extends these protections to include pregnancy, childbirth, and other related medical conditions. It is important for employers to be aware of these protections when conducting background checks on potential or current employees.
In North Carolina, an employer may not refuse to hire a qualified applicant or discharge an employee based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or pregnancy. The affected employee can sue an employer who violates this law. If the employee prevails in the lawsuit, they may be awarded damages, including back pay, lost benefits, and attorneys’ fees.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that sets forth requirements for how consumer credit information is to be used. The FCRA regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer credit information by businesses and organizations.
Under the FCRA, employers must first get written consent from the job applicant before obtaining a report from a CRA. The employer must then provide the applicant with a “pre-adverse action” notice if the information in the report could result in the denial of employment.
The applicant must be given a chance to review the report and dispute any incorrect information. If the employer decides to take adverse action based on the information in the report, they must provide the applicant with a “post-adverse action” notice that includes information about their right to obtain a free copy of their report from the CRA.
North Carolina Employment Background Check Laws
In North Carolina, employers may request a criminal background check on applicants and employees. However, North Carolina law limits how this information can be used. Of these regulations, the following are the most important to consider:
NC Executive Order No. 158
In September 2018, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 158, which restricts how and what employers may ask of candidates during the preliminary stages of the hiring process. For instance, employers may not:
- Conduct a background check before an initial interview with the applicant
- Employers are required to give applicants a chance to explain any criminal activity if it has been revealed in a North Carolina criminal background check
- Employers are prohibited from accessing criminal records that are expunged, sealed, or pardoned
Right now, NC Executive Order 158 is only applicable to state employees/applicants. However, the legislature is currently in the works that may soon require private employers to follow the laws set for by this order.
Ban The Box
In 2015, North Carolina joined a number of other states in enacting legislation that prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on an initial job application. The North Carolina ban the box law applies to all public employers as well as private employers with 15 or more employees. The law prohibits employers from using an applicant’s criminal history as a reason to exclude them from consideration for a position automatically.
Employers who violate the ban the box law may be subject to civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation. The law also gives applicants the right to file a complaint with the North Carolina Department of Labor if they believe they have been discriminated against based on their criminal history.
If you have questions about North Carolina’s background check laws or how they may apply to your business, you should consult and seek out professional services for background checks to ensure you are compliant with state laws during your pre-screening process.
Does North Carolina Impose A Limit On the “Lookback Period” for An Applicant’s Criminal History?
No. There are no imposed limitations on the “lookback” period for a North Carolina criminal background check. While most states stick to a seven-year lookback period when obtaining criminal histories – that is not the case in the state of North Carolina. Therefore, employers can view criminal histories as far back as required. This does not include expunged records or sealed records, which are not permissible to access.
How Much is a Background Check in North Carolina?
When it comes to employee background checks in North Carolina, employers should know that the cost of a background check will vary depending on the specific services they require. For example, a simple criminal history check obtained from the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation will cost a $14 processing fee. While this might sound cheap, employers should remember that they will only receive the basic criminal history in NC. This leaves a huge gap in vital information.
Employers today typically need far more than this paltry bit of information. It’s true that the price of getting a North Carolina background check increases according to the additional information required. However, getting a full-spectrum background check for trusted employees is worth the price for the peace of mind employers receive. Having crucial details about an applicant ensures better decision-making in the hiring process and helps reduce risks for your business’s success.
*a select number of states charge an additional, mandatory, county court fee in addition to our standard service fee.
How PreSearch Can Help With Background Check Services in North Carolina
PreSearch is a powerful resource that can help with background check services in North Carolina. By using PreSearch, employers can quickly and easily have access to applicant criminal records, sex offender registry information, and more. Additionally, PreSearch can help to verify an applicant’s identity and employment history. As such, PreSearch is an invaluable resource for any employer looking to conduct employee background checks in North Carolina.
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