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Types of background checks and legal considerations

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2022 | Employment Law |

When hiring, it is understandable that employers want to know certain important information about the background of candidates, such as their criminal, work or credit history. However, it is important that those hiring in British Columbia follow employment laws and, in particular, anti-discrimination regulations when conducting these background checks. The good news is that background checks are legal in Canada, but certain criteria must still be met for them to be acceptable. 

Some common types of background checks that may be sought by an employer, and some things to consider when seeking such a check, include the following: 

Criminal record check

These are a common type of background check; however, it is important that an employer has an occupational requirement for conducting the check. They must also not discriminate against a prospective employee based on the results, unless it is relevant to the work the applicant would be doing. 

Credit check

Credit checks are common in certain regulated sectors, such as the finance industry. One potential pitfall of a credit check is that it includes information protected by the Human Rights Code, which can open employers up to possible age-based discrimination accusations. 

Driving record check

Driving record checks can be necessary for certain jobs such as truck driving, bus driving or any job that involves driving a company-owned vehicle. To prevent privacy issues, it is important to conduct a screening that is specific to an individual’s driving history and does not include information on medical suspensions or the prospective employee’s address. 

In addition to checks that involve going through a third-party company, employers also often conduct their own checks as part of the hiring process. This can include checking the social media presence of prospective employees, reviewing their resumes and calling their references. In these types of checks, the employer should always remain professional and ask only the questions that are they are permitted to in accordance with privacy laws and the Human Rights Code. It is a good idea for companies to speak with a British Columbia employment lawyer regarding any legal concerns about their hiring process, especially if a lawsuit has been threatened or filed. 

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