Volunteers, Here’s What You Need to Know About Criminal Background Checks

Posted Thursday, August 9th, 2018 by Sterling Volunteers Staff

What Information Do Volunteers Need for a Criminal Record Check?

Background screening is becoming more prevalent for Non-profit organizations. As a volunteer, you may have already undergone a background check prior to volunteering or you might have to get one for a new group that you will be working within the future. No matter the timing of your background check, you are bound to have a lot of questions about the process, what information you needed to provide, what forms you need to fill out and ultimately, how long does it take to get the report back and start working?

For employment background screening, many parts go into a background check from conducting a criminal record check to verifying past employment and education. Volunteer organizations mostly rely on criminal record checks, including a sex offender search for their screening purposes. All the components of a background check help organizations get a better overall picture of their volunteer candidates to help them safeguard their reputation and protect themselves from liability.

Background Screening Regulations

The background screening industry is highly regulated by federal, state and local laws. At the federal level, background checks are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines. According to FCRA guidelines, volunteer managers cannot look at information that is older than seven years for civil judgments, arrest records, collection records, and paid tax liens and ten years for bankruptcies.

One requirement of the FCRA is that an organization, including non-profits, must notify the candidate that they will be performing a background check. The notice will explain that the results of the background check will be used for hiring, promotion or retention. After explaining the intent of performing a background check, volunteer managers must receive consent (either on paper or online) from a volunteer candidate to run a background check and that the results will be used in the decision making process.

What Do I Need to Supply for a Background Check?

It is important to be informed about the process and what information you need to provide for your volunteer background check. Remember to read the consent form carefully before you sign it. Providing correct information will help to speed up the background check process. Some of the items that you may be asked for to complete a background check include:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Current and past addresses

Depending on the type of background check being run, you may be asked to provide additional information such as your Social Security Number and/or Driver’s License.

Background Check Procedures

Sterling Volunteers has a simple, streamlined process for completing a background check. Once a volunteer manager thinks that a volunteer candidate could potentially work well within their organization, they will send an email with directions to send you to an online volunteer screening process website.  The background check is a simple hassle-free, four-step process where you would provide the information listed above.  A volunteer manager will review the results of the background check and decide to bring the volunteer candidate onto the organization’s staff.

Adverse Action Process

What happens when a volunteer candidate is disqualified for a position based on what is found in their background check? The FCRA requires two more steps that must be completed by a volunteer manager: Pre-Adverse Action and Adverse Action.

  • Pre-Adverse Action is solely a challenge to the accuracy of the information on which an organization has already has based its conditional decision. If a candidate does not contest the accuracy of the report within the required five days or does contest the information but the re-investigation confirms the original findings, the candidate may take adverse action. A Pre-Adverse Action Notice/letter is sent to the candidate along with the copy of the background screening report, federal summary of rights and any appropriate state summary of rights.
  • Adverse Action is an action that denies a volunteer a position or promotion, etc. In this last step, the volunteer manager is required to send an Adverse Action letter with another copy of the federal summary of rights and any appropriate state summary of rights. If the specific Adverse Action steps are not followed, it could lead to litigation.

Both for profit and non-profit organizations are required to keep the consent and authorization forms, Adverse Action letters and background screening reports for candidates who were not hired in a master file for five years plus the current year from the date of the background check. If you are hired, the employer must keep the information in a master file or personnel file for the same amount of time.

Be Prepared for Your Background Check

Background screening can be complicated but understanding what information you need to be prepared for the background check will help the turnaround time and put you a step ahead of other candidates. For other questions about the process, check out our FAQs at the Sterling Volunteers website.

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