Washington State Background Checks for Employment: A Complete Guide (2020)
If you are an employer in Washington State looking to hire reliable employees for your company, it’s important to know how to implement a comprehensive background checking program that is compliant with local, State and Federal laws.
Running Washington State employment background checks allows you to gather a full picture of your job candidates so that you can determine if the candidate is the right fit for the type of jobs you are recruiting for.
At iprospectcheck, we have a large number of very satisfied clients in Washington State, so we know a thing or two about how to conduct quick, compliant background checks.
Discover some interesting facts that you may need to know about Washington State background checks in this helpful guide.
Washington State Criminal Background Check Laws
There are specific local, State and Federal laws that must be taken into consideration. Some apply when using a consumer reporting agency to conduct an employment background checks, and some that apply even if you complete them yourself.
Review these laws first before starting the background screening process to ensure you stay compliant and avoid costly fines and lawsuits that can jeopardize your business.
- Effective June 7, 2018, Washington State employers are not allowed to inquire about a candidate’s criminal history until the employer has determined that the applicant is qualified for the position, meaning they meet the basic requirements for the position as stated in the job advertisement or description. Because of this, employers are not allowed to ask any question–on the application, in writing, in person, or through a Washington State criminal background check–that inquiries about the applicant’s criminal history until after the candidate is deemed qualified. Only then can a background check be conducted on the individual.
- As of Nov. 1, 2013, a criminal background check ordinance on private employers went into effect for the city of Seattle. This ordinance states that private employers are not allowed to inquire about or consider a candidate’s criminal history until an initial screen of the candidate has been conducted.
- In Washington State, the use of arrest records (records that did not result in a conviction) for employment purposes is considered an unfair employment practice by the Washington Human Rights Commission. However, arrests for pending charges may be appropriate to review.
- Washington State employers are not allowed to request a credit report in regards to an applicant or employee unless: (1) the employer discloses the job related reason(s) for requesting the credit report to the individual in writing, or (2) it is required by law that the employer obtain the credit report.
- Washington State employers are not allowed to request or require an employee or job candidate to disclose their social media account login information.
- Employers are not allowed to request, require, or cause an employee or job candidate to change the settings on their social media accounts to enable an employer to access or view their information.
So, before you conduct a Washington State employment background check, make sure that you abide by these state laws.
Moreover, you will also need to follow Federal laws in regards to conducting a background check, such as those set out by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), including the Adverse Action Notification Process.
According to the FCRA, an employer must notify an applicant of the employer’s intent to run a background check on them prior to the screening taking place. In addition, the employer must also share with the candidate, in writing, the name and contact information of the third-party background check company that will be conducting the screening.
Once the background check is conducted, employers must follow the Adverse Action Notification Process if they choose to not hire the qualified candidate after reviewing their background report.
When you take adverse action, follow these steps to stay compliant during the process:
- Provide a pre-adverse action letter to the applicant stating your intent to not hire them based on specific information found on their background check report;
- Allow time for the candidate to correct or change any false or incorrect information found on their background check report;
- Review the updated report and make your final hiring decision; and
- Send the applicant an official adverse action letter if you still decide to no longer hire them for the position.
You should also understand and implement procedures to comply with the last guidance from the EEOC on the use of background checks for employment purposes.
These are vital steps to follow when conducting a background check in Washington State. By working with a third party background check company that can help you to expertly navigate these complex laws, such as iprospectcheck, you can ensure that you stay compliant throughout the background screening process.
How to Conduct a Washington State Background Check
Now that you have become familiar with the state and federal background check laws, it is time to determine where to get a background check in Washington State.
There are a few options, but not all background checks are created equal.
You can request a criminal history report from the Washington State Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the Washington State Patrol Criminal History Division. Though, according to their website, while the public may request and obtain records, the information provided may be limited.
Moreover, the government’s background checks can take two weeks to receive. When you have an open position to fill, you do not have time to wait for background checks. A more effective way to conduct a background check on a potential employee is to partner with a third-party background screening company.
At iprospectcheck, we provide comprehensive background checks with a typical average turnaround time of one to two days. We understand the hiring and budgetary needs of employers, which is why we are quick and cost-efficient. We provide employers with reliable information that free services simply cannot offer. Plus, we accomplish this quickly -while staying compliant.
How Far Back Does a Background Check Go in Washington State?
Washington State has specific guidelines for how far back a background check can go and what can be reported on a background check.
According to the Washington State Human Rights Commission, the use of arrest records for employment purposes is considered an unfair employment practice. However, pending charges may be appropriate for review.
When using a professional background screening company, conviction records are only reportable for seven years if the salary of the person being hired is $19,999.99 or less.
Washington State background checks can also provide other important information, including verifying candidate’s identity, employment history, and whether they appear on any national sex offender or terrorist watch lists. With this information, employers will gain a better understanding as to whether the applicant is the right person for the job.
iprospectcheck: Your Trusted Partner for Washington State Employment Background Checks
Washington State has many specific laws employers must follow when conducting background checks for employment purposes.
The easiest way to conduct a background check on a qualified candidate in this state is to partner with a third-party background check company like iprospectcheck.
We are a 100% USA-based service team dedicated to providing the absolute best customer service. Our mission is to make the background screening process go smoothly for you, while ensuring your needs are met in a timely manner.
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.