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Background Screening: Protecting retailers and consumers

Download PDFNational Retail Federation
October 2011

Background ScreeningA potential employer has the right and responsibility to know who they are hiring to represent their company. In an effort to keep the workplace safe, hire top talent and exceed customer expectations, retailers use a number of methods to conduct screening of applicants, new employees and sometimes individuals already working in the company. Background checks are an important resource for employers who seek to provide a safe, stable work environment and fulfill their obligation to both employees and customers.

In October 2011, NRF released the findings of a survey with 96 retail and restaurant companies to understand the use and scope of background screening in the retail industry. Nearly all retailers polled (96.6%) utilize background screening as part of their applicant hiring process. Background checks are conducted on all levels of employees from store associates and managers to senior executives. The types of checks conducted often include evaluating criminal history, sex offender registration, credit, motor vehicle/driving history, a social security number trace, drug history, education verification and private sector data sharing initiatives such as a stores mutual association check.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is considering changing the existing guidance on the use of pre-employment criminal history checks for the prospective workforce, a movement business leaders have titled “Ban-the-Box”. The changes were discussed during the Commission’s meeting on July 26, 2011 to Examine Arrest and Conviction Records as a Hiring Barrier. The proposed changes would impact pre-employment criminal history checks, which is an important tool for most employers in protecting their workplace. If requirements for background checks on employment applications change, banning the box could potentially affect every business regardless of the size and sector. This report provides insight on the positions most commonly screened using a criminal background history as well as credit check, education history, motor vehicle check and others.

Download a copy of NRF’s 2011 Background Screening: Protecting retailers and consumers.