With that being said, should an individualâs credit report be fair game for employers, who are looking for the best and brightest to fill their ranks? Or, should how a person handles their personal money be off limits during the hiring search?
Following the Money Trail
In general, there are two schools of thought on this issue.
The first is that what a person does outside of their employment with their money is none of an employerâs business. The thought is that as long as an individual abides by the law, whether or not they have a $10,000 credit card balance is no oneâs business.
On the other side of the coin, any applicant for a job, especially those applying for work where finances play a role in their daily responsibilities, should be checked out to see if they have had issues paying off credit card debts, handling a car payment, overseeing a mortgage etc.
While each company has to determine which road it wants to travel, some of them are being told in no uncertain terms by some state and even federal officials that they have limited means to check up on potential employees.
Do the Laws Need to be Stricter?
According to federal law, an employer needs written permission from an applicant to run a credit check. Given that replying no may send up a red flag to a possible employer, how many applicants will actually say no to this request? Also, do you not think some employers try and skirt the law and do credit checks anyhow?
Both Connecticut and Maryland recently enacted laws that in essence prohibit employers from using a job applicantâs or an employeeâs credit information in deciding whether or not to hire that individual. Both laws will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2011.
The laws recently enacted in Connecticut and Maryland are different in their application but have a number of similar provisions.
While both public and private sector employers are expressly protected by the new Connecticut law, it seems that Marylandâs law will not be applicable to governmental employers. Both laws in essence exempt financial institutions, credit checks required by federal or state law for employment, and credit checks that are for a bona fide purpose that is substantially job-related.
Meantime, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon and Washington presently limit employersâ use of credit history in employments selections. Legislation that would impose similar restrictions is pending in a number of states and also at the federal level.
With more individuals hoping to return to the workforce in 2011, giving them credit for their workplace experience should override how much they owe on a credit card or loan.
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Dave Thomas is an expert writer on payroll processing services based in San Diego, California.Â He writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs such as small business payroll services at Resource Nation.