Are Background Checks Required?

Are Background Checks Required?

Background checks are almost universally required in today’s work environment, and for good reason. They not only  mitigate risk, but help to inform employers as to whether or not a potential hire would be a good fit. While most employers regularly run background checks on applicants, are they required by law?

The short answer is: background checks are not required by federal law. However, some industries may have their own rules and regulations that are in place to protect the public, keep safe work environments, and ensure professionals are qualified for their position. Just to name a few of the many industries that typically require background checks include education, healthcare, drivers, and background checks for tenantsAdditionally, many insurance providers offer discounts to businesses that require background checks prior to hiring new employees or run them on an annual basis.

Man filling out a required background check

Professional License Verification

Professional license verification is beneficial in many industries like law professionals and the medical field. Verifying an applicant has a professional license ensures the safety of the individual performing the job and protects from negligent hiring as well, something that could lead to lawsuits and could even shut down a business. It is extremely important to verify that such licenses are in good standing and that an employer is aware of any negative information on file with the licensing agency or entity.

According to CNBC about 55% of applicants lie on resumes. Here’s what they typically lie about:

  1. Previous work experience: 55.4%
  2. Skills: 43.1%
  3. College degree (or equivalent): 41%
  4. Personal details, such as age, location or name: 39.5%
  5. High school details: 39.2%
  6. Salary information: 33.6%
  7. Job specific software and/or equipment skills: 33.5%
  8. Employer references: 21%

Driving Records Requirements

In most industries, driving records are a common requirement. Naturally, the transportation industry is one of many with its own regulations and requirements on driver screenings. For obvious reasons, taxi and rideshare drivers are also required to complete background checks including driving history and, in some cases, MVR checks are required by the Department of Transportation (DOT).  An MVR Check looks at non-criminal moving violations such as speeding tickets, red light infractions, or other traffic violations that might otherwise indicate a source of potential liability.

Quick Statistics (Source:

  • 1 in 5 drivers receive a citation yearly
  • 42% of the surveyed drivers said they don’t consider going 10 mph over the speed limit to be speeding. Another 10% said they don’t think a 20-mph increase is speeding. (Everquote, 2016)
  • One study found that 18% of licensed American drivers would fail the knowledge test for a learner’s permit if they had to retake it. (National General Insurance, 2011) Another study found that nearly 40% would fail it. The passing score for the knowledge test is usually 80%. (, 2013) 
  • In 2019, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 33% of the large truck drivers in fatal crashes, compared with 53% of the passenger car drivers in fatal crashes (FMCSA, 2021). 

Background Checks for Educators

For teachers and education professionals, background checks are a valuable and necessary requirement. In addition to criminal record background checks, teachers may be required to undergo professional license checks and education verification. This is in place to protect children and ensure the teachers are qualified for the job they’ve been hired to do. Nothing is scarier than a child spending the school day with someone who is not qualified to teach, or worse, is not able to provide proper care to the children they are responsible for.

Quick Statistics (Source:

  • From July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, a total of 39 school-associated violent deaths occurred in the United States
  • During the 2019–20 school year, 77 percent of public schools recorded that one or more incidents of crime had taken place

Lowering Risk

Negligent hiring is a risk no employer should willingly accept. By following regulations and performing proper due diligence, background checks can help to mitigate the risk of bringing an unqualified or potentially dangerous applicant into the workplace. Background checks from a reputable company are one of the best low-cost methods you can implement today to protect your business, your employees, and your clients.

Example of Negligent Hiring:

A cable company employee murdered a woman in her home and the company was ordered to pay out a $7 BILLION suit after the employee was hired without a proper background check or employment verification.


Have any more questions?

All of our reports are FCRA compliant. To speak with one of our background check experts, please fill out the form below or, if you are ready to order your background screening, please click here

Speak With An Expert

Scroll to Top