New Jersey companies that need to hire should consider conducting background checks on their prospective employees.
While you might think that an applicant will put his or her best foot forward when applying for a position, some people are less than truthful on their resumes and applications.
Did you know that a staggering 78% of job applicants admit to lying during the hiring process?
Conducting a New Jersey pre-employment background check on each job candidate can help to screen out unqualified, dishonest applicants.
Your background check process should be viewed as an integral part of the hiring and onboarding process instead of an afterthought.
With an effective background check, you can verify an applicant’s identity, credentials, education, and employment history while also performing a criminal history check. Good background checks also offer a comprehensive picture of an applicant, helping you to make sound hiring decisions while reducing your liability risks.
At iprospectcheck, we conduct background checks for employers in Jersey City, Newark, Atlantic City, Trenton, and more.
Use our comprehensive guide below to discover how to conduct compliant background checks.
Why do New Jersey Employers Run Background Checks?
New Jersey employers have several reasons for conducting pre-employment background checks. Below are four of the most common ones.
1. General Screening to Verify Information for all Prospective Employees
Most employers in New Jersey recognize that pre-employment background checks are a crucial part of the hiring process. By conducting New Jersey background checks on prospective employees, employers can verify the information provided by applicants and check to make sure they do not have any disqualifying convictions.
2. Screening for Managerial and Supervisory Positions
Since supervisors and managers have greater responsibility, employers who hire for these types of positions might want to conduct more in-depth New Jersey background checks for these types of candidates than they might for entry-level positions.
3. Regular Employment Screening
In some industries, employers must conduct employment checks at various times. For example, trucking carriers are required to check their truck drivers’ driving records a minimum of once per year and after any time a driver has an accident under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. Other industries also conduct ongoing background checks of their employees.
4. Specialized Screens for Applicants in the Caring Professions
When people apply to work for a company within the caring profession, they must undergo in-depth, comprehensive background checks.
Thorough background checks are required for people who work with vulnerable people, including children, the disabled, the mentally ill, and the elderly. Employers in these fields must protect the safety of their patients and clients.
Because of the nature of the services they provide, companies operating in these types of fields are required to conduct background checks that are much more in-depth than those performed by other types of employers.
What Shows Up on a Background Check in New Jersey?
What might show up on a background check will depend on the types of reports you request. Most employers ask for criminal history information, employment history information, education information, and professional license checks.
Some employers also request driving records for applicants who will drive as a part of their jobs. Many also request pre-employment drug screens.
Pre-employment background checks will include the following types of information:
- Misdemeanor and felony convictions that have not been expunged or pardoned
- Pending criminal cases
- Arrests that led to convictions
- Sex offender registry information
- Employment history
- Education history
- Address history
- Domestic Terrorist Watch List information
What will you see on some of these types of reports? Let’s take a look below.
If a candidate has a criminal record that has not been expunged, you will see the following types of information:
- Date of offense
- Type of offense
- Severity level (misdemeanor or felony)
- Disposition date
If an applicant has successfully expunged his or her record, you will not see any information about expunged convictions.
If you request an education verification report, you will see the following types of information:
- Each educational institution attended
- Attendance dates
- Any diplomas, certificates, or degrees conferred
Requesting an education verification allows you to confirm whether or not an applicant attended the schools and earned the degrees or certifications reported.
An employment verification allows you to check whether an applicant has been honest about his or her employment history. On this type of report, you will see the following types of information:
- Each employer for whom an applicant has worked
- Employment dates at each company
- Titles/positions held at each job
New Jersey Background Check Laws 2023
Employers who conduct pre-employment background checks have to comply with the applicable federal and state laws. Failing to follow the laws could result in penalties, fines, and litigation.
Below, you’ll find a brief overview of the most important federal and state laws for New Jersey employers.
Federal Laws on Employment Background Checks
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is among the most important federal laws governing background checks and hiring processes. Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, the FCRA protects consumer privacy and ensures the fairness and accuracy of the information collected and disclosed by consumer reporting agencies.
The FCRA also controls how employers can use the information they receive on pre-employment background check reports.
Before an employer can conduct a New Jersey background check, it must first secure the applicant’s written consent. If an employer decides against hiring an applicant based on information contained in a background check, it must adhere to the FCRA’s adverse action process before making a final decision.
At iprospectcheck, we always comply with the rules of the FCRA and help our clients stay compliant with the law throughout their hiring processes.
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is the seminal federal anti-discrimination law in the U.S. This law applies to background checks for employment when they reveal an applicant has a criminal record.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII and requires employers to individually assess criminal records on pre-employment background checks. Any convictions must be assessed as they relate to the specific position for which an employer is hiring under guidance from the EEOC.
New Jersey State Laws on Employment Background Checks
In addition to federal law, New Jersey employers must also comply with several state laws.
New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Law
The New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Law is found at N.J.S.A. 34:6B-11 et seq. and applies to all employers in the state with 15 or more employees.
Under this law, employers are prohibited from advertising that people with criminal records will not be considered. They also cannot ask about criminal history information during the initial application process.
Employers can only ask about criminal history information after an applicant has had an initial interview.
There are some exceptions to this law, including for the following:
- Positions in corrections, law enforcement, emergency management, homeland security, or the judiciary
- Positions for which a criminal background check is required by law
- Positions for which the law states a criminal conviction makes an applicant ineligible
- Positions with companies that have programs in place to hire people with criminal records
- Any time an applicant voluntarily discloses his or her criminal record
New Jersey Clean Slate Law
In Dec. 2019, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the New Jersey Clean Slate Law. This law, found at N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 et seq., allows people with convictions that are 10 years old or older to petition the court for an expungement of their criminal records.
Expunged records will not be reported by CRAs, and employers are not allowed to rely on information about them when making hiring decisions.
While the Clean Slate Law applies to most offenses, the following types of convictions cannot be expunged and will be reportable:
- Forcible sodomy
- False swearing
Conspiracies, attempts, or aiding and assisting others to commit these offenses also cannot be expunged.
Requirement of Notice Before Performing Investigative Consumer Reports
Under N.J.S.A. 56:11-33, employers that intend to conduct investigative consumer reports must provide advance notice to the consumers. They must also provide them with a notice of their rights to receive a copy of the report.
Notice of Rights Before Taking Adverse Action
Under N.J.S.A. 56:11-31, employers that intend to take adverse action must provide the applicants with a copy of their state and FCRA rights. They must also provide a copy of the background check report.
Salary History Inquiry Prohibited
Under 2018 Executive Order No. 1, state agencies are prohibited from asking about an applicant’s salary history during the hiring process.
Social Media Information Inquiry Prohibited
Employers are prohibited from asking applicants or employees for their social media passwords under N.J.S.A. 34:6B-5 et seq. Employers also are prohibited from asking for access to an applicant’s or employee’s social media profile information in any manner.
How Far Back Do Background Checks Go in New Jersey?
The FCRA and New Jersey’s state laws govern how far back background checks can go. For jobs paying less than $75,000, there is a seven-year lookback period under the FCRA for the following types of information:
- Arrests not leading to convictions
- Civil judgments
- Civil lawsuits
When these types of information are older than seven years, they will not be reported. However, the FCRA’s restrictions do not apply to conviction records, and an exception applies to jobs paying at least $75,000 per year.
Under New Jersey’s expungement law, convictions that are older than 10 years and that have been expunged will also not be reported.
The FCRA’s lookback period does not apply to employment history, education, or credentials. Information about these things can be reported regardless of age.
How Do I Get a Background Check in New Jersey?
Employers can request criminal history information from the New Jersey State Police for prospective employees. Public and private school employers can also submit requests to the New Jersey Department of Education’s Office of Student Protection.
Conducting background checks through the state’s agencies will only return criminal history information from within the state of New Jersey and will not provide information about convictions in other jurisdictions or about other critical types of background information.
Some employers might find online vendors offering free background checks. These vendors should be avoided because they frequently do not comply with the FCRA and may return inaccurate and outdated information. Relying on the information they provide can place you at risk of lawsuits.
The best approach to conduct a pre-employment background check is to partner with a reputable background check provider like iprospectcheck. We offer comprehensive, accurate, up-to-date, and FCRA-compliant employment background check reports.
As an Employer, How Can I Stay Compliant?
All New Jersey employers must comply with the state and federal background check laws. If you do not, you could face steep fines and penalties, and you might face lawsuits from applicants.
To stay compliant, follow these tips.
1. Don’t Ask About Criminal History During the Early Hiring Phase
Do not ask applicants about their criminal histories on your applications or during the early stages of the hiring process. Instead, wait to ask about criminal history information until after you have interviewed an applicant.
2. Complete Individual Assessments of Convictions
If a prospective candidate has a criminal conviction, individually assess the conviction as it relates to the job for which he or she has applied. Do not make an adverse decision without first completing an individual assessment.
3. Provide Notice of a Potential Adverse Job Decision
If you want to make an adverse employment decision based on information about a criminal conviction, you are required to send notice to the applicant.
The notice must list the disqualifying conviction. You must also provide the applicant with the criminal history report and notify him or her about the deadline to provide clarification about the information, including evidence that the information is inaccurate or that the applicant has been rehabilitated.
4. Send a Final Notice of Adverse Action
If you decide not to hire an applicant after going through the adverse action process, you must send a final adverse action notice to him or her. You should also inform the applicant of his or her rights under New Jersey state law and the FCRA.
What Will Disqualify You from an Employment Background Check?
Applicants might be disqualified for jobs based on employment background checks for several reasons. Some of the most common reasons are detailed below.
1. Disqualifying Criminal Convictions
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 77 million people are estimated to have criminal records in the U.S.
Whether an applicant might be disqualified from a job based on a criminal record will depend on industry-specific regulations, the nature of the offense, and the type of position for which he or she applied.
2. Lying About Past Employment
Some people think they can improve their chances of getting a job by fudging information about their past employment. Some do this to try to hide employment gaps or to appear to be more experienced than they are.
When employers request employment verification checks, they can quickly see if an applicant has lied. Lying about past employment will likely result in an adverse hiring decision.
3. Lying About Education
Another common area in which applicants tend to falsify information is in their educational history.
Education verification checks will reveal whether an applicant has attended the schools he or she claimed and has earned the degrees or certificates that he or she has reported. Falsifying educational attainment can result in a quick rejection.
4. Poor Driving History
Applicants for jobs that require driving will likely have their motor vehicle records checked. If they have multiple traffic violations, employers might reject them because of an inability to insure them and potential liability.
5. Failing a Pre-Employment Drug Test
Pre-employment drug tests are commonly required by employers to protect the safety of their workplaces.
Reputable background check providers like iprospectcheck offer pre-employment drug screens. When an applicant fails this type of test, the employer will likely choose not to hire him or her.
How Much Does a Background Check Cost in New Jersey?
If you choose to order a pre-employment background check from the New Jersey State Police, you will have to pay a $44.13 fingerprint fee for each report. However, these reports will not provide information about other important types of background information about your applicants’ employment, education, and others.
The best choice is to partner with a reputable provider like iprospectcheck. Because of our extensive access to databases, we can quickly provide accurate, reliable, legally compliant background check reports.
You can also select the specific types of information you need, so you will not have to pay for extraneous information.
We have many different types of background check reports from which to choose. If you anticipate ordering 50 or more reports each year, you can benefit from our volume discounts.
How Long Does a Background Check Take in NJ?
How long it might take to complete a background check will depend on how you go about conducting it. If you choose to try a do-it-yourself approach by sending requests to multiple state agencies, past employers, and educational institutions, the process can take several weeks.
In a tight labor market, most employers cannot afford to deal with background check delays. Needing to make fully informed hiring decisions quickly is another good reason to partner with iprospectcheck. Because of our resources and advanced research abilities, we can return background check reports in as little as a few hours.
iprospectcheck: Your Trusted Partner for Fast, Accurate, Compliant New Jersey Background Checks
Conducting pre-employment background checks should be a key part of your hiring process. Background checks can help you to reduce the risk of liability and protect the safety of your employees and customers.
At iprospectcheck, we have extensive access to resources and the skills needed to return accurate, current, FCRA-compliant background check reports quickly to our clients in New Jersey.
To learn more, contact iprospectcheck to ask for a free quote and how we can help you with your company’s pre-employment background check needs.
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.