A new legislative proposal substantially limits the ability of certain employers to run a credit check on job candidates—taking away an important tool that helps screen applicants who would be given access to company assets.

Small businesses in particular would be vulnerable to incompletely vetted job candidates by SB 40.

A local jewelry store, for example, could not fully determine the reliability of a prospective employee who would have access to priceless merchandise.

Other businesses that give employees access to merchandise, machinery and equipment could also be at risk.

While denying the need to protect those key assets, SB 40 admits the need to screen prospective employees dealing with museum or library collections, or prescription drugs.

Penalties

Beyond eroding employers’ ability to be properly informed about important aspects of a potential employee, SB 40 also includes penalties for employers who fall outside the proposal’s guidelines.

Any employee or prospective employee who suspects a wrongdoing or violation will be able to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner. And that could lead to an investigation and potential $300 civil penalty for each incident.

SB 40 is designed to open up the job market for potential employees by restricting what methods an employer can use when considering the hiring of an employee.

But that restriction would actually make Connecticut a less competitive place in which to do business and create jobs.

If adopted, it would make it much harder for a company to properly protect itself against possible liabilities and losses.

Criminal background checks also on chopping block

The Labor Committee also is considering a bill that would alter the process allowed for criminal background checks.

HB 5237 would prevent employers from asking an employee or prospective employee to submit to a criminal background check until a conditional offer of employment has been made.

What’s more, the employer would not be able to take into account any misdemeanor that occurred more than two years ago, or felony that occurred more than five years ago.

Employers would not be able to take into account any misdemeanor that occurred more than two years ago, or felony that occurred more than five years ago.
Failure to follow any of these rules could make an employer subject to a fine of $2,000 for each violation.

While potentially putting employees and workplaces at risk, HB 5237 admits the need for full background checks for various public safety positions such as state or municipal police forces, correction officers, or judicial marshals, as well as any position where state law requires the disclosure of arrests, charges or convictions.

In addition to the problems above, HB 5237 is missing a key piece that could help create uniformity for businesses above the state.

At least four of Connecticut's municipalities prohibit the use of criminal background checks until after a conditional offer of employment has been made.

The problem is that this only applies to businesses in the municipality. As a result, businesses with multiple locations are potentially subject to a different criminal background check rule in each location.

In addition to changes in HB 5237 that would allow businesses to continue to protect themselves and their customers, this bill needs to clarify that any new state rules on criminal background checks supersede any municipal rules.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede (860.480.1784) | @egjede