If you’re hiring new employees for your business in Maine, you want to find the most qualified and trustworthy ones possible.
However, it can be difficult to figure out which applicants are honest and experienced and which applicants are unqualified and untrustworthy.
Did you know that 78% of applicants admit to lying during the hiring process?
By conducting employment background checks you can ensure your new hires are experienced, qualified, and trustworthy, thus keeping your workplace safe for both employees and customers.
At iprospectcheck, we regularly conduct comprehensive, accurate, and FCRA-compliant background checks for employers across the state, including in Ellsworth, York, and Oxford County – so we’re quite familiar with all aspects of Maine’s employment screening process.
This article helps Maine employers understand the legal requirements for a background check for employment. Use it as a resource to make sure that you remain in compliance with all relevant laws.
Let’s get started.
4 Common Reasons Employers Run Background Checks in Maine
Employers conduct pre-employment background checks in Maine for a variety of reasons. Here are the most common ones.
1. General Pre-Employment Screening
Most employers in Maine conduct pre-employment background checks as an integral part of their hiring process. Pre-employment background checks help them verify what their applicants have claimed on their resumes and that they do not have any disqualifying criminal convictions.
2. Screening for Supervisory Roles
People in management and supervisory positions usually have more responsibility than other employees, which is why employers typically conduct background checks on such applicants and might require more information than they do for entry-level applicants.
3. Ongoing Employment Screens
Certain industries conduct ongoing employment screenings at specific intervals. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires companies in the trucking industry to conduct checks of their drivers’ driving records at least every 12 months and after an accident. Some other industries also require regular employment background checks of their existing employees.
4. Background Checks for People in the Caring Professions
People who work with vulnerable populations, including elderly adults, people with disabilities, and children, must undergo thorough background checks.
This is because they are required to ensure the safety of their clients and patients.
Many companies operating in the caring professions conduct comprehensive background checks that require more information than checks conducted by other types of employers.
Maine Employment Background Check Laws: A Complete Overview
When you conduct Maine employment background checks, you must comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Complying with the legal requirements that apply helps to avoid fines, penalties, and potential litigation.
Here is an overview of the relevant state and federal laws.
Federal Laws on Employment Background Checks
The Federal Trade Commission enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which is a federal law that governs hiring practices and how background information can be used across the U.S. This law was enacted to protect the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information and controls how it is gathered, used, and shared by employers.
Employers are required to get applicants’ authorizations before they complete pre-employment background checks. The FCRA also controls what employers must do if they decide against hiring applicants based on the information discovered through background checks.
When you partner with iprospectcheck, you can feel confident that we comply with the FCRA and will assist you to remain compliant throughout the hiring process.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal anti-discrimination laws. Under these laws, you must individually assess criminal history information revealed on an applicant’s background check report as it relates to the open position.
Maine State Laws on Employment Background Checks
Employers need to be aware of several laws in Maine when they conduct pre-employment background checks.
Substance Testing Law
Employers that want to conduct pre-employment drug screens must first develop and submit their drug testing policies to the Maine Department of Labor for approval to comply with the state’s Substance Use Testing Law and notify employees and applicants that they intend to implement a program.
Medical Use of Marijuana Act
The Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act also addresses how employers use pre-employment drug screens for hiring purposes. Under 22 MRSA § 2430-C(3), employers may not refuse to employ applicants on the basis of the applicants’ status as medical marijuana patients unless hiring the applicant would place the employer in violation of federal law or if the employer would lose federal funds or federal contracts.
In general, employers may conduct pre-employment drug screens, including for marijuana. The Medical Marijuana Act does not prohibit employers from testing for marijuana or refusing to permit its use in the workplace as long as the employer has gained approval from the Maine Department of Labor for its drug testing policy.
Because of the differences in how medical and recreational marijuana are treated under Maine’s laws, it is a good idea for employers to speak to their legal counsel when drafting drug testing policies for applicants and employees.
Social Media Law
Maine also has a social media law for employers. Under 26 MRSA §616, employers are prohibited from doing the following things with applicants and employees regarding their social media accounts:
- Requiring, coercing, or requesting the disclosure of the applicants’ and employees’ passwords
- Requiring, coercing, or requesting applicants or employees access their social media accounts in the employer’s presence
- Requiring or coercing applicants to disclose information about social media accounts
- Requiring applicants or employees to adjust their privacy settings to allow employers to view the accounts
- Penalizing, discharging, or failing to hire applicants or employees based on their refusal to give employers access to their social media accounts
For state government employees not including schools and those required to be licensed under the previous sections, Maine has a ban-the-box law found at 1.5 MRSA § 792. This law prohibits state governmental employers from asking about criminal history information on their applications and during the early phases of the employment process.
Maine employers who hire direct access workers, including in healthcare, childcare facilities, schools, and other licensed facilities are required to conduct comprehensive background checks, including criminal history searches, for applicants under 34-B MRSA §1225 and 22 MRSA §9054.
What is on a Maine Background Check?
Depending on your needs, a Maine pre-employment background check can be basic or robust. At iprospectcheck, we can complete a large variety of background check reports for applicants.
However, the most common types of information that employers in Maine request on their background check reports include criminal history information, employment history verification, and education verification.
Here is what you can expect to see on each of those reports.
When an applicant has criminal incidents in his or her history, you will see the following information about the offense(s) in question:
- Specific charge
- Date the case was filed
- Disposition of the charge
- Disposition date
- Severity of the charge – misdemeanor or felony
- Sentencing information
You can assess this information as it relates to your open position.
Employment verification can help you to confirm your applicants’ past employers, employment dates, and positions held. Requesting a verification of employment can help to ensure your applicants are honest and qualified while allowing you to prevent negligent hiring liability.
Education verification reports will help you to verify the institution your applicants attended, the attendance dates, and any diplomas, degrees, or certificates earned. This type of report helps ensure you hire trustworthy and qualified candidates.
What Disqualifies You on a Maine Background Check?
People might not pass employment background checks for multiple reasons, including criminal history information, falsified employment history, educational discrepancies, poor driving record, or failed drug tests.
Each of these issues is explored below.
Criminal History Information
The National Conference of State Legislators reports that an estimated 77 million people in the U.S. have criminal records. Whether or not a criminal history might disqualify an applicant for a position will depend on the job he or she is seeking and regulations specific to certain industries.
Falsified Employment History
Many people lie on their resumes and applications about their employment dates and experience. They might do this to hide gaps in employment or to claim to have more experience than they do. Employers that request employment verification checks will quickly see that an applicant has lied on his or her resume or application.
Since employers want to find trustworthy employees, lying about work experience can quickly result in a rejection.
Some people fluff their resumes by claiming to hold degrees or certificates they have not earned. However, companies that perform education verification checks can see all of the institutions an applicant has attended and any degrees or certificates that he or she has earned. Lying about educational attainment can quickly result in being rejected.
Poor Driving Record
People who apply for jobs that will require them to drive as a regular part of their duties can be rejected if a motor vehicle report reveals multiple traffic violations. Employers check their applicants’ driving records to avoid insurance consequences and potential negligent hiring liability.
Failing the Drug Test
Many employers request pre-employment drug screenings to protect them from liability. If an applicant fails a pre-employment drug test, the failed test can be grounds for rejecting him or her.
In 2018, Maine passed a law prohibiting employers from taking adverse job actions solely based on applicants’ use of medical marijuana. However, employers are allowed to enact discipline and enforce drug-free workplace policies. Employers should talk to their legal counsel before taking adverse action against an applicant based on a failed test for marijuana.
How Far Back Does a Background Check Go in Maine?
Maine pre-employment background checks must comply with the FCRA and its restrictions on how far back adverse information can be reported and used to disqualify applicants for employment.
The FCRA has a seven-year lookback period, meaning you will not see information about arrests that are more than seven years old. There is a salary-cap exception to this restriction for positions that pay more than $75,000.
The FCRA’s time limitations do not apply to conviction information from more than seven years. When you work with a reputable background check provider like iprospectcheck, you can be confident your background check reports are fully FCRA-compliant.
The legal restrictions of the FCRA do not apply to education, employment, and other types of background information. These types of information can be reported and considered regardless of age.
How to Get a Background Check in Maine
Employers can request criminal history reports from the Maine State Bureau of Identification with the Maine State Police. This agency is tasked with maintaining a central repository of criminal records within the state of Maine.
Employers that provide services and care for vulnerable populations may also use the Maine Background Check Center, which was created by a partnership between the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Public Safety.
You will not receive all relevant information when you rely on state background checks in Maine. The State Bureau of Identification will only return criminal records from within Maine and will not include details about convictions that might have occurred in other jurisdictions. Only licensed providers of direct care services may use the Background Check Center, and it will only return information about disqualifying convictions.
Conducting background checks through the state will not provide you with other types of information about your applicants, including their educational qualifications and employment histories.
It is best to work with a good third-party background check company like iprospectcheck. With us, you can be confident that the reports you receive are FCRA-compliant, complete, and accurate.
How Can I Run Compliant Background Checks in Maine?
To ensure that your background checks comply with the laws, you must make sure that they are equitable.
Under guidance from the EEOC, it is unlawful for employers to decide to check an applicant’s background based on his or her color, national origin, race, sex, disability, religion, or genetic information. If you conduct background checks, all applicants should be required to undergo the same process regardless of their protected characteristics.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires employers that conduct background checks through third-party employment screening provides to do the following:
1. Notify the applicant or employee.
Inform the applicant or employee that you intend to conduct a background check in writing. Tell him or her that you might use the background information to make a hiring decision. The notice must be in a stand-alone document and cannot be included on the employment application. Some additional information might be included in the notice only if it does not make the notice confusing.
2. Tell the applicant or employee about his or her rights in investigative reports.
If you ask the third-party background check provider to complete an investigative report, which is a report that follows interviews about a person’s general reputation, character, lifestyle, and personal characteristics, you must notify the employee or applicant that he or she has the right to a description of the scope and nature of the investigation.
3. Get written consent.
You must get written permission to conduct the background check from the applicant or employee. You can include the consent in the document you use to notify the applicant or employee that you will conduct the background check report. If you intend to conduct ongoing background checks throughout the applicant’s or employee’s entire employment period, you must say so conspicuously and clearly.
4. Certify that you have completed the requirements.
You must certify to the third-party CRA that you have done the following things:
- Have provided notice to the applicant or employee of your intention to conduct the background check
- Have secured the applicant’s written permission to receive a background check report
- Have complied with the FCRA requirements
- Will not discriminate against the employee or applicant or misuse the information in violation of state or federal equal employment opportunity laws
5. Follow the adverse action process when deciding not to hire based on a background report.
If a background check report includes information about criminal convictions that entitle you to make an adverse hiring decision, you must comply with the following guidelines under the FCRA:
- Before taking adverse action, you must explain to the applicant or employee in writing, orally, or electronically that he or she was rejected based on information in the background check report.
- Provide the name, phone number, and address of the third-party company that conducted the report.
- State that the third-party company did not make the hiring decision and cannot provide specific reasons for it.
- Explain the applicant or employee has the right to dispute the report’s completeness or accuracy and to receive a free copy of the report from the CRA within 60 days.
What Information Am I Prohibited from Seeking in a Maine Background Check?
It’s important to understand the types of information you cannot ask for or use in a Maine background check. These include:
While Maine does not allow records to be expunged, it does have a pardon process for convictions. Employers may not seek information about pardoned convictions, and applicants do not have to disclose any convictions for which they received pardons during the application process.
Sealed Juvenile Records
People can petition the court to seal their juvenile records. If their requests are granted, sealed juvenile records cannot be sought or reported on pre-employment background checks in Maine.
How Much Does a Background Check Cost in Maine?
If you order a background check through the state, you will have to pay a fee of $31 per report. You might find some providers online that advertise free background screen reports. These sources should not be used because the information they provide is often unvetted and inaccurate and could expose you to liability.
Your best option is to work with a trustworthy provider like iprospectcheck. We leverage extensive access to databases and advanced research skills to provide reliable and comprehensive background check reports quickly.
You can also choose the specific types of background check reports you need for your business so you will not pay for unnecessary information.
We have a broad menu of other types of background reports that you can select. If you will need more than 50 reports each year, we offer volume discounts. Call us for a free quote: 888-808-9997
How Long Does a Background Check Take in Maine?
The length of time involved with the background check process will depend on the avenue you choose. If you decide to order background checks from the state, it might be a few weeks before you receive your reports.
This is a good reason to work with iprospectcheck. Because of our access to reliable databases and advanced research tactics, we can provide background check information to you more quickly.
iprospectcheck: Your Trusted Partner for Fast, Accurate, Compliant Maine Background Checks
Pre-employment background checks are critical for the success and protection of your business. When you conduct background checks, it can help to protect you from liability while ensuring you make fully-informed hiring decisions.
At iprospectcheck, we have the training and resources necessary to quickly return comprehensive, accurate, and FCRA-compliant background check reports for our clients in Maine. Our professional employees undergo extensive training and have access to our advanced technology and vast resources to find the information you need.
Contact iprospectcheck today to request a quote and to learn more about the pre-employment background check services we can offer to you.
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.