Many Arkansas employers understand the value of conducting pre-employment background checks on prospective employees but might not understand how to conduct effective and comprehensive background screens that fully comply with all relevant laws.
Background checks in Arkansas can help employers to screen out applicants who are unqualified or untrustworthy, helping them to protect the safety of their workplaces and reducing their risk of potential liability.
Did you know that 75% of human resources managers report they have caught applicants lying on their resumes or applications?
Beyond verifying the claims applicants have made on their resumes, a thorough employment background check in Arkansas can also give you a clearer picture of an applicant so that you can hire with greater confidence.
At iprospectcheck, we have performed background checks for employers in Fayetteville, Little Rock, Bentonville, Fort Smith, and more.
Based on our experience conducting Arkansas employment background checks, we have written this guide as a resource for employers on the employment background check process and the laws that govern it.
Let’s get started now.
Why Do Arkansas Employers Conduct Background Checks?
Employers choose to conduct employment background checks in Arkansas for several reasons. The most common ones are discussed below.
1. General Background Checks for Entry-Level Jobs
Many Arkansas employers routinely screen entry-level applicants as a regular part of their hiring processes. General employment background checks in Arkansas allow employers to confirm the claims made by applicants on their applications and screen out those who have been dishonest or have disqualifying criminal records.
2. Thorough Background Checks for Supervisory Positions
People working as executives, managers, or supervisors have significantly more access to their employer’s intellectual property and accounts while also having responsibility for others.
Because of this, employment background checks for people applying to these types of positions tend to be much more in-depth than the general screenings companies might perform on people applying for entry-level jobs.
3. Ongoing or Continuous Employment Background Checks
The safety requirements of jobs in some industries make it important for employers within them to conduct ongoing or continuous employment background checks after they have hired employees.
For example, the trucking industry is required by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations to check the driving records of truck drivers at least once per year or following any accident in which a driver is involved. Other types of employers also require employees to undergo employment background checks in Arkansas at regular intervals.
4. In-Depth Screenings for Positions Working With Vulnerable People
People who apply for jobs within the caring professions must undergo stringent pre-employment background checks. These types of positions involve working with people with disabilities, children, the elderly, people with mental illnesses, and others.
To protect these vulnerable clients, companies providing care are required to conduct very comprehensive pre-employment background checks on applicants for positions and prospective volunteers.
Arkansas Background Check Laws 2021
When Arkansas employers choose to conduct pre-employment background checks, they are required to follow all state and federal laws that apply to the process. If you do not adhere to the legal requirements, you could face fines, other penalties, and potential lawsuits.
Below is a brief overview of the important laws that apply to background checks in Arkansas.
Federal Laws on Employment Background Checks
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects the privacy and accuracy of consumer information collected, held, and reported by consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), including companies that provide employment background check reports to employers in Arkansas.
Employers also have restrictions under the FCRA on how they can use the information reported on pre-employment background screens.
You are required to notify applicants that you intend to conduct pre-employment background checks in writing. Before you can conduct a check, you must get an applicant’s signed authorization.
If a background check reveals disqualifying information, you must go through the adverse action process under the FCRA before making a final decision not to hire him or her.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law prohibits workplace discrimination against applicants and employees based on their protected status and applies to pre-employment background checks that reveal an applicant’s criminal record.
According to the EEOC, employers must individually assess a criminal conviction found on a pre-employment background check report as it directly relates to the open position.
Arkansas State Laws on Employment Background Checks
Arkansas employers must also be aware of the following state laws when conducting background checks on applicants or employees.
Social Media Law
Under Ark. Code Ann. § 11-2-124, employers are prohibited from requiring applicants or employees to give them their social media passwords or account information. They also cannot refuse to hire applicants for asserting their rights under the state’s social media law.
Sealing of Certain Criminal Records
Under Ark. Code Ann. § 16-90-1417, people who have successfully petitioned the court to seal their records are allowed to deny that they were arrested or convicted of the sealed criminal offense. Custodians of sealed records may not disclose them under Ark. Code Ann. § 16-90-1416.
What Shows up on a Background Check in Arkansas?
Since Arkansas employers might ask for a variety of different employment background check reports, what will appear on an Arkansas employment background check will depend on the information requested. Most employers request Arkansas crime records, education verification, employment verification, and checks of professional licenses or credentials.
Applicants who apply for positions requiring them to drive will also likely undergo checks of their driving records, and many employers also order pre-employment drug tests.
An Arkansas background check for employment will likely contain the following information:
- Misdemeanor or felony convictions that have not been sealed
- Open criminal cases
- Arrests resulting in convictions
- Appearance on the sex offender registry
- Education history
- Address history
- Employment history
- Appearance on the Domestic Terrorist Watch List
Let’s take a look at what you might see on a few of these reports.
Criminal Background Report
Applicants that have criminal records that have not been sealed will have criminal history reports containing the following information about each conviction:
- Offense date
- Offense type
- Offense severity (misdemeanor or felony)
- Disposition date
Any sealed conviction will not be reported.
Employment verification reports allow employers to confirm the claims applicants have made about their past employment. On an employment verification report, the following information will appear for each past job an applicant has held:
- Name of every past employer
- Dates of employment
- Titles and jobs held at each company
Education verification allows employers to confirm the claims applicants have made about their educational attainment and institutions attended. This type of report will reveal the following information:
- Every school attended
- Dates of attendance
- Diplomas, degrees, or certificates earned
How Far Back Do Arkansas Background Checks Go?
The FCRA has a seven-year lookback period restricting how far back an Arkansas employment background check can go. If the positions for which you hire pay less than $75,00 per year, the time limit applies.
The following types of information will not be reported when they are seven or more years old:
- Arrests not resulting in convictions
- Civil lawsuits
- Civil judgments
The FCRA’s lookback period does not apply to jobs paying $75,000 or more, and conviction records that have not been sealed can be reported regardless of age or offered salary.
Other types of background information about a person’s past employment, credentials, or education also are not restricted by the FCRA and can be reported no matter how old they might be.
How Do I Get a Background Check in Arkansas?
Employers can request Arkansas crime records from the Arkansas Department of Public Safety through its Online Criminal Background Check System. Individuals can also request criminal history information through the Arkansas State Police. State agencies hiring for designated financial positions must perform more stringent background checks on their applicants.
If you conduct name-based pre-employment background checks through these state agencies, you will only receive criminal history information for Arkansas and will not receive information about convictions in other states. State criminal background checks also will not provide you with other crucial background information about an applicant’s education or employment history.
It is a better idea to partner with a reliable third-party employment background check company like iprospectcheck. Our reports are fully FCRA-compliant, comprehensive, accurate, and current.
As an Arkansas Employer, How Can I Stay Compliant?
Complying with the laws when conducting pre-employment background checks is critical. If you do not follow the laws, you could be fined, penalized, and sued.
If you do conduct background checks, you must ask all applicants to go through the same process without regard to their protected characteristics under the EEOC’s rules.
The FCRA requires employers to do several things when they intend to conduct background checks.
1. Notify applicants of the intention to conduct background checks.
Employers must inform applicants and employees of their intention to conduct background checks in writing. The notice must be given in a standalone document.
2. Inform applicants about their rights in investigative reports.
If you intend to ask for an investigative report about the general reputation, characteristics, and lifestyles of applicants, you are required to notify the applicant or employee that he or she has a right to receive information about the investigation’s scope and nature.
3. Obtain written authorization from applicants or employees.
Before conducting an employment background check, you must obtain an applicant’s or employee’s written authorization. If you intend to complete ongoing background checks, you must inform your employees clearly and conspicuously.
4. Certify your compliance to the CRA.
Employers must certify that they have complied with the laws to the CRA that will conduct the employment background check.
This certification should include the following attestations:
- Notice of the intent to conduct background checks was provided
- Applicant gave signed authorization
- Employer will not violate state or federal equal employment opportunity laws with the information
5. Send a pre-adverse action notice.
If you decide not to hire an applicant based on criminal history information included in an employment background check report, you must send a pre-adverse action notice to the applicant that includes the specific criminal conviction, a copy of the report, and a deadline for the applicant to challenge or clarify the information.
6. Send a final adverse action notice.
If you still decide against hiring an applicant based on criminal history information in a background check, you must send a final adverse action notice. This notice should include the name and address of the CRA and advise the applicant that the CRA did not make the hiring decision. It should also include information about the applicant’s rights under the FCRA.
What Causes You to Fail a Background Check in Arkansas?
People fail Arkansas employment background checks for a variety of reasons, including criminal records, employment history embellishments, lies about education, problematic driving records, or failed pre-employment drug tests.
These different reasons are explained below.
Not every criminal conviction will disqualify an applicant for employment. Whether an applicant with a criminal record might be disqualified for a job will depend on the relationship between the conviction and the specific position and regulations that apply to specific industries.
Embellished Employment History
Some people embellish their employment histories on their resumes because they think doing so will help them secure employment. However, employers that request employment verification are quickly able to check whether an applicant has lied and will likely deny employment to people who falsify their past employment records.
Lying About Educational Qualifications
Another common area where people tend to lie on their resumes is their educational qualifications. People might lie about attending prestigious institutions or holding certificates, degrees, or diplomas they do not have.
Education verification allows employers to spot these types of discrepancies. Lying about educational qualifications will likely result in a quick denial.
Problematic Driving Record
Employers that require employees to drive for their jobs will reject those that have too many traffic violations on their driving records. This is because the applicants may not be insurable and could expose the employers to potential liability in negligent hiring lawsuits.
Failed Drug Screen
Many employers conduct pre-employment drug screens to ensure a safe working environment. Applicants who fail pre-employment drug tests that are a condition of employment will not be hired.
How Much Does a Background Check Cost in Arkansas?
A name-based criminal background check from the Arkansas State Police will cost $22 per report. However, it will not include other relevant background information that you might need.
You might find a provider online that promises to perform a free background check in Arkansas. Avoid these types of vendors because they normally do not comply with the FCRA and frequently return outdated, incorrect, and unreliable information.
The best choice is to partner with a reputable provider like iprospectcheck. We have substantial access to reliable databases and use our advanced knowledge and research resources to quickly return comprehensive background check reports.
Employers that intend to order 50 or more reports per year can take advantage of our volume discounts. Call us today for a free, no-obligation quote: 888-808-9997
How Long Does a Background Check Take in Arkansas?
The way in which you conduct a background check will determine how long it might take to come back. Conducting an online check through the state will not take very long, but it also will not include all of the information you need.
If you try a do-it-yourself employment background check, gathering all of the needed information from state agencies, schools, and past employers could take a couple of weeks.
Needing to obtain comprehensive background check reports quickly is another good reason to partner with iprospectcheck. Our extensive resources and leading research capabilities allow us to return FCRA-compliant background check reports in as little as a few hours.
iprospectcheck: Your Trusted Partner for Fast, Accurate, Compliant Arkansas Background Checks
Employers who conduct pre-employment background checks in Arkansas understand how critical accurate information is for protecting their companies. Conducting Arkansas background checks can help you to make better hiring decisions and protect you from potential liability.
By working with iprospectcheck, you can benefit from our in-depth training and resources so that you can quickly receive all of the information you need.
Call iprospectcheck to learn more about the services we provide and to request a free quote.
DISCLAIMER: The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Consult your counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.