Scrutiny on background checks and the background screening industry continues to intensify. It is becoming more and more important for screening companies to enhance the experience for both the customer and the applicant. One aspect of that experience is the communication of adverse decisions. Employers often decide not to offer a job after discovering an applicant’s criminal history. These individuals have valuable skills – otherwise, the employers would not be willing to pay for a background check. Many times, the employers already decided that they are the most qualified applicants for the jobs. But they can’t pass the background check because the criminal history shows that they would pose an unacceptable level of risk in the jobs. Many employers conduct an individualized assessment of the applicant. But they still have a hard time re-assessing the criminal history: how much the conviction still says about the individual. It’s a problem for the industry, too. How can background screening companies improve this customer experience, maintain their professional integrity, and still fulfill their promise to deliver all available information about the individual?
With that in mind, the MyClearStart program was developed as an easy-to-use tool and shared resource for background screening firms and their customers to soften the impact of delivering the adverse decision. The program offers applicants an easy-to-follow guide through the legal process of possible remediation of their criminal history. This way, the employer is put in a position to assist applicants. The MyClearStart program helps the background screening company put the employer in that position.
The MyClearStart program allows applicants to take a free online test. The test instantly determines if they can have their criminal records expunged, sealed, or otherwise made non-public. It takes into account state specific regulations and the details of the crime. On completion of the test, applicants receive an eligibility assessment and additional information on how to proceed.
If the test determines that the prior offense is eligible for expungement, the applicant can have a lawyer review the case and start the expungement process. The information presented includes the fees involved in such a transaction. If the applicant decides to order an expungement, a lawyer is assigned and goes to work for the applicant. Most records are cleared within 6-8 weeks. Importantly, once the offense has been officially expunged or sealed, the lawyer also works to remove the records from proprietary criminal databases that participate in the national expungement clearinghouse. The Expungement Clearinghouse is designed as the central mechanism for sharing validated expungement orders by collecting the information from individuals, their attorneys, courts and other sources. Once expungements are validated, backgroundchecks.com and the other members of the Expungement Clearinghouse will receive expedited notification to remove these expunged records from their private criminal records databases. This service provides a faster and more coordinated approach to removing the records that are no longer publicly available.
The MyClearStart program eases the process of getting expungement information into the hands of applicants. It then facilitates the process of removing expunged records from criminal-record databases. Employers, landlords, and others who take action based on criminal history say that MyClearStart helps them ease the discomfort of delivering adverse decisions. From a broader perspective, it moves the process of deciding whether a criminal is rehabilitated from the employer to someone better suited.
Michael Klazema is the Vice President of Product Management & Online Marketing at backgroundchecks.com and works on the development of new products, features and functionality as well as partnerships for the company’s background screening software.