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Hawaii Background Checks: An Employer’s Guide [2023]


Employers in Hawaii must make fast hiring decisions to keep their businesses running smoothly. If you need to hire employees, you should also consider conducting pre-employment background checks.

Hawaii background checks should be viewed as an integral part of your business’s hiring process. Employment background checks in Hawaii can help to protect workplace safety and mitigate liability risks.

Did you know that a Honolulu man recently pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $100,000 from his employer, a nonprofit that helps the homeless?

Information revealed on background checks is invaluable in helping companies to make better hiring decisions. A Hawaii background check can help you verify the claims made by an applicant and confirm whether or not he or she has any disqualifying criminal convictions.

Based on our experience conducting background checks for employers in the Island of Hawaii, including Honolulu, East Honolulu, Pearl City, and more, and the adjacent islands of Maui and Oahu, we have written this overview of employment background checks to use a guide to the process and the laws involved.

Let’s get started.

Why do Employers in Hawaii Conduct Background Checks?

There are many different reasons why employers conduct pre-employment background checks in Hawaii. below are four of the most common ones.

1. Routine Pre-Employment Checks for Entry-Level Applicants

Most companies in Hawaii complete pre-employment background screens regularly when hiring for entry-level positions. Background screens can help employers verify the claims job candidates have made and confirm that the employees they hire do not have disqualifying criminal records.

2. Detailed Pre-Employment Checks for Applicants for Supervisory Positions

Managers and supervisors have a greater degree of responsibility and might have more access to their employers’ accounts and confidential information. This makes conducting detailed screens on applicants for these types of jobs critical to ensure that companies hire trustworthy and qualified supervisors and managers.

3. Background Checks at Regular Intervals

Some employers in Hawaii conduct background checks of their current employees at regular intervals.

Companies within the trucking industry are required to conduct driver’s records checks of their truck drivers after an accident or at least once every 12 months under FMCSA regulations.

Employers in other industries also conduct ongoing background screens to check for any issues that might arise post-hire.

4. Background Checks for Applicants for Positions Working With Vulnerable People

Companies that provide services to vulnerable clients, including children, the elderly, and people with physical or mental disabilities, must conduct thorough background checks on applicants for employment and volunteer positions.

These types of employers must protect their clients’ safety.

Because of this, the types of background checks that companies providing services to vulnerable populations frequently require more extensive information than background checks performed by other employers.

Hawaii Employment Background Check Laws 2023

Employers that conduct Hawaii background checks are required to follow the relevant laws. Several state and federal laws govern how background checks for employment can be conducted and how employers in Hawaii can use the information they obtain from them.

Below is a brief explanation of the federal and state laws that government background checks for employment in Hawaii.

Federal Laws on Employment Background Checks


The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is an important federal law and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. This law protects the accuracy, privacy, and fairness of consumer information collected and reported by consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), including those companies that conduct employment background checks.

The FCRA also governs how employers can use information revealed on background checks and what they must do before conducting employment screens.

Before employers can perform background checks on applicants or employees, they must first notify them in writing that they intend to conduct background checks and secure their written authorization to perform the checks.

If an employer decides not to hire an applicant based on information from a background check, it must first go through the adverse action process before making a final decision not to hire him or her.

At iprospectcheck, we always perform FCRA-compliant background checks for our clients and can help you understand your obligations during the process.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the most important federal anti-discrimination law. It is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on the protected characteristics of employees and applicants.

Title VII applies to employment background checks when screening reports reveal that an applicant has a criminal conviction. The EEOC states that employers must conduct individualized assessments of convictions as they directly relate to the jobs for which the applicants are under consideration before denying employment.

Hawaii State Laws on Employment Background Checks

Hawaii employers must also comply with state laws as described below.

Arrest Records and Expunged Records Not to Be Considered

Employers cannot consider arrest records in their employment decisions unless they can present clear and convincing evidence that the arrest is rationally and directly related to the required duties and would negatively impact the applicant’s ability to perform his or her job.

Under Haw. Rev. Stat. §831-3.2, some people are eligible to petition the court for an expungement of certain criminal records. Employers cannot consider any expunged criminal records or ask applicants whether they have been granted any expungements.

Criminal Convictions Must Reasonably Relate to Positions

Under Haw. Rev. Stat. §378-2.5(a), employers in Hawaii can ask about and consider criminal records when making employment decisions, but the convictions must reasonably relate to the duties of the jobs for which the applicants are being considered.

Ban-the-Box Law for Private and Public Employers

Hawaii was the first state to enact a ban-the-box law for private and public employers in 1998. Since that time, states, counties, and local jurisdictions have enacted ban-the-box provisions across the U.S.

The purpose of Hawaii’s ban-the-box law is to provide more employment opportunities to people who have been convicted of crimes.

Under Haw. Rev. Stat. §378-2.5(b), employers can inquire about criminal convictions only after they have made conditional offers of employment.

Consideration of Old Criminal Convictions

Under Haw. Rev. Stat. §378-2.5(c), employers cannot consider felony convictions that are older than seven years or misdemeanor convictions that are older than five years. However, periods of incarceration are excluded from this lookback period.

Multiple types of employers are exempted from waiting until after making a conditional offer of employment to applicants before conducting criminal background checks for employment.

The exempt employers also can consider misdemeanors that are older than five years and felonies that are older than seven years when they directly relate to the job or when consideration of them is required under state or federal law.

The following types of employers are exempt from these restrictions:

  • State agencies
  • Public and private schools
  • Department of Health for direct contact positions
  • Judiciary
  • Counties
  • Armed security guard companies
  • Development disability services providers
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Security guard and detective agencies
  • Insurance companies
  • Aircraft companies and airlines
  • Department of Human Services
  • Public libraries
  • Department of Public Safety
  • CO-OP boards and managers
  • HOAs of condominiums

If you are not an exempt employer, you cannot consider misdemeanors older than five years or felonies older than seven years when making employment decisions.

If you learn that an applicant has a criminal conviction within the restricted period, make sure to complete an individual assessment of the conviction as it relates to the position for which you are hiring before making an adverse decision.

However, if the conviction is older than five or seven years, you can still withdraw a conditional offer if it directly relates to the position.

If you want to rescind the conditional offer of employment, complete the adverse action process to comply with federal law.

Credit Reports Restricted

Under Haw. Rev. Stat. § 378-2.7, employers cannot check the credit reports of applicants until after they have made conditional offers of employment. They cannot use credit reports to make hiring decisions unless a substantial relationship between the report and job duties and qualifications exists.

The ability to obtain a credit report following a conditional offer of employment is limited to employers that are authorized under federal or state law to obtain credit records, employers hiring for supervisory or managerial positions in which the employees will exercise independent judgment, or federally insured banks and financial institutions.

Employers that are authorized to get credit reports after making conditional job offers can only revoke the offer if the negative credit history substantially relates to the duties of the position.

Salary History Inquiries Prohibited

Under Haw. Rev. Stat. § 378-2.4, employers in Hawaii cannot ask about an applicant’s salary history or use salary history information to determine the applicant’s salary or benefits. Employers can ask applicants about their salary expectations, however.

What Shows up on a Background Check for Employment in Hawaii?

What you might expect to see on a Hawaii background check for employment will depend on which reports you request. Most employers in the state request criminal records, employment verification, education verification, and information about licenses or credentials.

Many employers also conduct pre-employment drug tests on applicants, and those that hire employees to drive company vehicles frequently request driving records.

A pre-employment background screen might include the following information:

  • Misdemeanor and felony convictions within the last five or seven years, respectively
  • Pending criminal cases
  • Arrests that resulted in convictions within the past five or seven years for misdemeanors and felonies, respectively
  • Appearance on the sex offender registry
  • Address history
  • Employment history
  • Education history
  • Appearance on the Domestic Terrorist Watch List

Below, we’ll take a brief look at what you might see on a few of these reports.

Criminal History Reports

If you request a criminal background check for an applicant who has a criminal conviction within the past five or seven years, the following information will appear on your employment background check:

  • Offense type
  • Offense date
  • Offense severity (felony or misdemeanor)
  • Disposition
  • Disposition date
  • Sentence

You will not see information about misdemeanor convictions that are older than five years or felony convictions that are older than seven years.

Education Verification

An education verification allows you to confirm the claims your applicants have made about the institutions they have attended and any degrees, certificates, or diplomas they earned.

This type of report will provide the name and address of every school the applicant attended, his or her attendance dates, and any degrees, diplomas, or certificates the school conferred.

Employment Verification

An employment verification provides the following information about each of an applicant’s former employers:

  • Name of each past employer
  • Dates of employment
  • Positions and titles held at each company

How Long Does a DUI Stay on your Background Check in Hawaii?

While some people view DUIs as traffic offenses, they are also criminal offenses. People who have one or two DUIs within 10 years will have misdemeanor convictions.

People who have had three DUIs within the past 10 years will have felony habitual DUI convictions.

While DUI convictions will permanently remain on someone’s criminal record, employers in Hawaii can only consider misdemeanor DUI convictions that occurred within the past five years or felony DUI convictions that occurred within the past seven years, excluding periods of incarceration.

What Background Check is Required in Hawaii to Work with Children?

Licensed childcare facilities and schools are required to conduct thorough background checks for people who will work with children and other adults who live in homes in which in-home daycare services are provided.

These specialized background checks must include the following:

  • FBI fingerprinting for national criminal records search
  • Child abuse and neglect registry searches
  • Sex offender registry searches
  • Ongoing, annual criminal history and abuse/neglect checks for employees

Employers that hire people who will work with children can also consider conviction records older than five or seven years for misdemeanors or felony convictions to protect the safety of the children.

How do I get a Background Check in Hawaii?

Employers in Hawaii can request criminal records from the Hawaii Criminal Justice Center. These criminal history checks can be performed online or by mail.

Conducting a criminal history background check through the state will not provide crucial information about an applicant’s past employment and education. You also might not receive criminal history information for convictions that occurred in other jurisdictions.

Some employers attempt do-it-yourself background checks by submitting requests to multiple agencies, schools, and past employers. However, this type of process might not return accurate and comprehensive information and could take weeks.

A better option is to partner with a reliable background check provider like iprospectcheck. We provide comprehensive, current, and FCRA-compliant employment background checks to our clients in Hawaii.

How Far Back Do Background Checks go in Hawaii?

How far back employment background checks can go in Hawaii is controlled by both the FCRA and Hawaii’s state laws.

The FCRA contains a seven-year lookback provision for jobs paying less than $75,000 for the following information:

  • Arrests that did not result in convictions
  • Civil lawsuits
  • Civil judgments
  • Liens
  • Bankruptcies

Positions paying $75,000 or more are not restricted by the FCRA’s seven-year lookback period.

Under Hawaii’s law, misdemeanors that are older than five years and felonies that are older than seven years cannot be considered for employment purposes and will not be reported.

These restrictions do not apply to an applicant’s former employment, education, credentials, or licensure. These types of information can be reported no matter how old they might be.

How Much Does a Background Check Cost in Hawaii?

If you order a criminal history check from the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center, you will have to pay $30 per report. However, this type of report will not be comprehensive and will not include information about your applicant’s education, employment, and other relevant factors.

You might find an online vendor promising a free Hawaii background check. You should not rely on information from these types of vendors. The information you might receive may be obsolete and inaccurate, and using it might expose you to potential liability.

A better approach is to work with a reputable third-party provider like iprospectcheck. We have extensive access to resources and use advanced research methods to quickly return current, accurate, and legally compliant background checks to our clients.

You can pick only the types of information you want, so you won’t have to pay for unneeded background information. If you will need 50 or more background check reports annually, you can receive steep volume discounts. Call us today for a free, no-obligation quote.

How Long Does a Background Check Take in Hawaii?

The length of time it will take for a background check report to be completed will depend on the method you choose. If you try to do it yourself, it can take weeks.

If you work with iprospectcheck, you can receive your background check reports quickly. Our advanced research methods and extensive resources allow us to return background checks in as little as a few hours.

iprospectcheck: Your Trusted Partner for Fast, Accurate, Compliant Hawaii Background Checks

As an employer, you should view pre-employment background checks as a key component of your hiring process. Conducting background checks can help to protect the safety of your customers and employees while reducing your liability risks.

At iprospectcheck, we are able to quickly return up-to-date, accurate, and FCRA-compliant background checks to our clients in Hawaii.

Contact us today to learn more about our background check reports 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.

Know Before You Hire

About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.