Can you ask candidates to pay for a background check?
Background checks have become the norm for companies hiring new employees. They want to know everything they can about an applicant before making a final decision. In general, companies will pay for these background checks themselves. In some cases, however, companies might ask the applicants to foot the bill.
If someone is applying for a job and a potential employer asks them to pay for their own background check, their first thought might be, “Can they really do that? Is it even legal?”
In most of the United States, to ask a job applicant to pay for the background check is entirely legal. You might think the practice is unfair, but, from a legal standpoint, there is nothing an applicant can do about it.
There are some states where having applicants pay for their own checks is illegal. It is important to review your local laws carefully, however, since some states differentiate between types of checks. It might be illegal, for example, to make an applicant pay for a check with a state agency, but legal for the applicant to be forced to pay for a check at the county or national level.
Below is a list of states the prohibit employers from asking candidates to pay for their own background checks:
- Washington, D.C.
In the other US states, there are no laws prohibiting companies from charging an applicant for their own background check. All the same, most companies do not engage in this practice. It is now standard practice for employers to budget for background checks, leaving job applicants off the financial hook.
It is important to note that applicants for volunteer positions fall into a separate category. They can be asked to pay for background checks in all fifty states.
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