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How Far Do Employee Background Checks Go?


When going through the process of hiring new employees, it is considered among the best practices to utilize an employment background check company. To help you make the best hiring decision you need to know the full story of those you are bringing on as part of your team. Regardless, of the position you are hiring for, you need to realize that the future actions of your employees can have a direct effect on your company.

Since past behavior is a strong predictor of future behavior, taking the time to dig into their background offers you a clearer picture. Understanding how far back does an employee background check go is important for you and your hiring team. There are a few factors that are going to determine this.


The General Rule As a general rule seven to ten years is the limit to the information that can appear on a pre-employment background check. The state employment laws and the income level play a part in determining this limit. This gives you a good look at the recent behavior of the individual to offer a prediction of what they will act like in the near future. Depending on where you are located, this can be a limit that is set by local or state laws. The idea is to offer businesses the chance to seek the best possible information when hiring people while still protecting citizens from intrusive investigations.


Exceptions to the General Rule As with most general rules, there are going to be exceptions. The answer to how far back does an employee background check go is no different. Take for example driving records. Most all traffic violations will be dropped from an individual’s driving record after three years. This is something to keep in mind when you are hiring someone who will be driving for your company as part of their job description. This does not apply to violations resulting in an arrest. Arrest records can remain on record for well beyond three years.

The sex offender registry is a lifetime requirement for most. There are no restrictions on how far back the original incarceration may have occurred. It requires the clearance of the court to be removed from this list. As long as the offender is registered, it is a factor employers can consider when making an employment decision.

There are going to be occasions in which the answer to how far back does an employee background check go can be much longer than seven years. These include:

  • Working with the federal government

  • Working with the state government

  • Working with law enforcement agencies

  • Having access to individuals at risk

  • Certain financial positions FULL ARTICLE