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Employment background screening

Help your hiring with applicant background checks

Background checks can provide religious organizations with information about an individual's past pattern of lawful and ethical behavior, including criminal history, credit history, employment history, education verification, identify verification, property ownership, driving records and personal references.

Benefits of conducting a background check

  • Identify the most qualified individual presenting the least amount of risk.
  • Avoid negligent hiring by searching criminal records.
  • Avoid negligent retention by searching past violent or abusive behavior.

Program considerations

  • Establish reasonable care during the hiring process by requiring applicants – paid or volunteer – to fill out an application for every open position.
  • Seek professional advice on how to best comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and state and local requirements. This will help you know when to disqualify a candidate without encountering legal disputes.
  • Background screening criteria should be dependent upon the anticipated job duties – volunteer or paid. Not all positions will meet the same criteria needs.
  • The risks are no less just because an individual chooses to volunteer their services.
  • Candidate background information must remain confidential and only provided to individuals with an operational need for the information.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements

  • Use the resources and expertise of a company that specializes in background checks to ensure you are receiving quality information and complying with FCRA requirements.
  • Notify the candidate or worker a background check will be conducted and obtain written authorization.
  • Provide a summary of consumer rights to the applicant.
  • Notify the candidate in writing if they were not chosen based on eligibility for the position – not hired, demoted, or given a job transfer.

Candidate and worker rights

When employers use background check information to decline employment, they must provide, in writing, the name, address and phone number of the agency that provided the information. Candidates and workers can request and obtain information provided to the employer. Candidates receiving written notice that they did not get the job because of negative credit history can receive a free copy of their credit report if requested within 60 days. Please refer to the guidelines and procedures established by your denomination, religious program or religious hierarchal sponsorship for your institution.


This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Readers should use this article as a tool, along with best judgment and any terms or conditions that apply, to determine appropriate policies and procedures for your church's risk management program.