Ask the Experts: Background Checks on Minors

Federal Employment Law Update – July 2018
July 16, 2018
Reminder: Forms 5500 for Calendar-Year Plans are Due July 31
July 19, 2018

Question: Are we permitted to run background checks on minors?

Answer: Running a pre-employment background check on any job applicant requires consent, which forms a legally binding agreement. Minors, in most cases, are prohibited from entering into a legally binding agreement, which means consent from a parent or legal guardian is required before proceeding with the background check. The minor candidate would need to have their parent or legal guardian sign the authorization form. Third party background checks performed on minors fall under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) with the same terms as background checks performed on those 18 and older.

You should note, however, that the majority of criminal records for minors are sealed, with the exception of when a minor is convicted as an adult. Further, because most minors are unable to obtain credit, a credit history would likely not exist. Consequently, you would more than likely make a hiring decision based on the minor’s previous work experience, educational experience, and professional references. This begs the question of whether a background check on a minor is really a necessary policy. You may need to adjust your pre-employment hiring practices when hiring minors to adapt to these limitations. You may, after consulting with legal counsel, choose to create a pre-employment screening policy designed specifically for minors.

What about Interns?

Many jobs available for minors are classified as internships. Find out more about employing and paying interns in It’s Intern Season.

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