Employee Background Checks and Drug Testing Procedures

Human resource is one of the most fundamental management functions within an organization. Any entity seeking to achieve prolonged success and competitiveness in the market ought to invest wisely in its workforce. Internal processes such as recruitment and hiring of employees are often guided by various employment laws. Human resource managers should identify any legal concerns that are likely to affect the effectiveness of the hiring process within an organization. Some of the elements that can be used to improve the effectiveness of this management function include conducting background checks, drug testing, as well as hiring and promotion. This essay seeks to provide a critical analysis of employee background checks, the reason they are done, and their overall importance. Additionally, it will discuss employee drug-testing procedures among other elements that characterize legal issues surrounding the hiring process.

Employee Background Checks

Employee background checks refer to the process that a hiring authority uses to verify whether a potential employee is whom they claim to be, according to the information provided during the application process. This is usually the final step in the hiring process once an employer ascertains that an individual has the required skills and experience for the applied job. Background checks help in providing crucial information such as employment history, educational background, and criminal record among others. Additionally, background checks are necessary in protecting an organization from potential risks that may be brought about by hiring individuals with a criminal history. One of the most important things that ought to be considered when applying this management function is the need to ensure that all policy guidelines are clear and consistent. In the contemporary world, it is important to integrate the latest technology into the hiring process because it helps in increasing its effectiveness.

Although many employers conduct background checks during the hiring process, it is important to conduct them at anytime as long as it is deemed necessary. For example, an employer can purpose to keep the workplace as safe and secure as possible by conducting semi-annual criminal background checks for their employees. Employment laws stipulate that an employer needs a candidate’s consent before running a check. It is illegal for an employment background check to be conducted based on an individual’s race, gender, sexuality, color, nationality, disability, or religion.

An employment background check can involve getting more than an individual’s credit performance, medical history, motor vehicle reports, drug screening, as well as use of social media. One of the common types of background checks conducted by employers is the financial history. This often applies in instances where a job position is specialized. For example, someone applying for a job in the finance sector or department within an organization normally undergoes a check that mainly focuses on one’s financial history and all notable certifications. Under such circumstances, the employer is bound by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to ensure that the process is transparent and fair. For example, the employer should ensure that the individuals being subjected to a check give their permission in writing for it to go ahead. In addition, the employees should be notified the use of the information that will be gathered with regard to their employment.

If an individual has not been hired because of the information gathered from the check, he or she should receive a notice from the hiring authority accompanied by the report used in making that decision. This allows the involved individual to review the report for possible errors and provide further information on potential negative details such as gaps in employment history. In order to ensure that background checks on financial history are properly administered, employers should choose to work only with companies that are compliant with the regulations set by the FCRA. Employment screening vendors receive their accreditation from the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA).

Another type of checks conducted is the criminal background. Employers often require this kind of a check to ascertain the history of an individual with regard to offenses such as fraud, felony convictions, sex crimes, and embezzlement among others. One of the main reasons why most employers run this kind of background check is to look for criminal records that indicate the possibility of an individual being a source of threat within the workplace. This makes it hard for ex-felons to rehabilitate into society and for those that were previously working to reenter the job market. To ensure criminal history checks are administered properly, employers should take advantage of the various incentives offered by the federal government for hiring people with a criminal past. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program was started by the federal government with the aim of increasing the employment chances of ex-felons, as well as to reduce recidivism rates.

Employee Drug Testing Procedures

Employers aim at ensuring that they provide employees with a safe, healthy, and inclusive workplace environment for maximum productivity. In the United States, certain states have legislation that protects employees from being subjected to drug testing without their knowledge. Federal laws require employers to follow certain guidelines before setting up and administering drug tests within the workplace. The first step involves drafting a written policy. An employer should engage the services of a legal counsel in developing a policy for implementing drug-testing procedures according to the existing state laws. This allows job applicants to be notified about the tests early enough for them to give consent. The next applicable procedure is conducting a pre-employment testing, which is only applicable to individuals that have been offered employment. In order to avoid discrimination, the employer should ensure that all individuals with employment offers are tested.

The other important procedure for employers is to understand their drug testing options. There are two methods allowed by the law, namely random and reasonable-suspicion testing. Random tests are conducted unannounced and are considered an effective tool because they keep employees focused and clean. However, they can create fear and mistrust within the workplace if poorly administered, thus affecting productivity. Reasonable-suspicion testing applies when an individual exhibits behaviors that show a possible drug use.

Another procedure followed is strict compliance with respective state laws. In the United States, many states have laws that provide guidelines and restrictions on drug testing within the workplace. It is important for the employer to ensure that all testing procedures are conducted according to and within the specified laws in order to avoid the burden of dealing with unnecessary legal charges. Another procedure is the need to maintain confidentiality. Just like medical information, drug test results for all employees should be handled with a high degree of privacy. To ensure compliance with the privacy policy, employers should ensure that all samples are collected in private. Additionally, the test results should be discussed with all the involved employees privately.

The final procedure involves considering a Last Chance Agreement (LCA). This applies in situations where an employee has tested positive for illegal substances. The employer can choose not to terminate the employees but rather offer them a last opportunity to comply with the company policies. This agreement should be made in writing to protect the interest of both parties in the event one of them violates the terms of the agreement.

BFOQ, Affirmative Action Preferences, and Promotions

Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications (BFOQ) refer to the credentials that an employer is allowed to consider when making a decision about hiring an employee or retaining one. The law stipulates that the qualification in question should be directly related to the job description of the employee being hired or retained. In addition, the qualification should be considered necessary for the operations of that organization. A good example of a BFOQ is a situation where male models are legally allowed to model for male clothing designers only. In order to avoid employment law issues with regard to this concept, employers should ensure that they hire legally appropriate employees for every position without basing one’s qualification on issues such as race, religion, color, disability or level of education.

Affirmative action refers to policies and practices within an organization that seek to increase the participation and representation of particular groups with regard to employment opportunities. These groups often identify with their gender, race, nationality, or sexuality among other factors. Examples of affirmative action in employment include targeted recruitment, outreach campaigns, and employee support groups among others. Proponents of affirmative action argue that it plays a pivotal role in overcoming racial and sexist barriers that limit the opportunities available to minority groups. On the other hand, critics argue that affirmative action programs victimize minorities, thus increasing hostility among various groups. In order to avoid employment law issues relating to affirmative action, employers should ensure that job opportunities are open to anyone interested. In addition, setting aside a certain number of job opportunities for members of the minority groups can play a pivotal role in propagating this agenda.

Promotion refers to the act of raising an employee from one job position to another that is of a higher rank, title, salary scale, and responsibility. It requires the employer to develop an effective employee promotion strategy that compliments the organizational culture and values. When promoting, it is important for the employee to avoid choosing the person who only cares about the title and not the job. Promotions are an effective strategy of increasing the output because it improves the ambition of employees, as well as boosting their passion to achieve both organizational and individual goals. In addition, promotions help an organization to save time and money spent on hiring new talent as it ensures top level employees remain within the workforce. The criteria for promoting employees are job experience and high performance. In order to avoid employment law issues during a promotion, employers should ensure that employees with the most years of service and have consistently produced high results receive the first consideration. Additionally, a promotion should only be given to employees that are interested and ready to take up the new roles.

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