May 17th, 2016 | Sterling

Top 5 Questions on Criminal Record Checks in Canada Answered

Your Top 5 Questions on Criminal Record Checks in Canada Answered

Making a hiring decision when your candidate has a criminal record is not always clear cut. There are a number of components to assess and analyze. One of the biggest challenges you face as a HR professional is protecting your organization while ensuring that you are fair to your candidate and compliant with human rights laws.

We recently conducted a webinar on criminal record checks in Canada, where SterlingBackcheck’s compliance experts, Mark Sward, Director of Privacy and Chuck Walker, Senior Advisor of Public Safety Information Management, were joined by moderator Iain Murray, Regional Executive, to talk about the various components of police checks and how to remain compliant with human rights and privacy laws when collecting and reviewing your candidate’s information.

In this webinar, participants were provided with an opportunity to ask questions about criminal background screening in Canada. Here is a recap of 5 commonly asked questions – from HR and compliance leaders:

Question 1:

How often can I conduct criminal record checks on my employees?

This depends on local privacy law, human rights considerations and collective agreements. Privacy commissioners have not set minimum or maximum periods that are permissible for criminal record checks in the private sector, so each company must make a decision based on its level of risk tolerance and the aforementioned (and other) legal considerations. While taking privacy, human rights and collective agreements into consideration, HR managers should remember that a criminal record check is up to date based on the date it is run.

Question 2:

How can I do a local police information search for recent convictions without collecting non-conviction information?

SterlingBackcheck’s E-PIC with Select Local Police Information (LPI) service allows you to choose which types of LPI we will flag. If you select only conviction information, then any applicant whose LPI only contains non-conviction information will be marked “Clear”, and no further investigation will be required. However, if an applicant’s LPI does contain conviction information, he or she will need to go to local police to obtain a full police information check, which may include non-conviction information depending on the local police service’s practice. This can be mitigated by sending a letter on your company’s letterhead to the police, specifically requesting that they only provide conviction information.

Question 3:

CRC’s returned by the local police board have a seal and a statement that says the check is not valid without a seal. Is obtaining an electronic check in other means valid?

What the statement is getting at is that the police service applies an embossed seal to its product as a security feature. An embosser or an adhesive seal adds texture to the product that can be felt upon examination. Because the product is a paper one and therefore susceptible to tampering, forgery or alteration, this statement is intended to advise the recipient to check this security feature. With an electronically transmitted result such as that which SterlingBackcheck generates as part of its process, there is no means to tamper with the result product and for that reason embossed or adhesive seals are irrelevant in an electronic process.

Question 4:

For hiring employees who will be working with children and vulnerable individuals, what is the best way to obtain the most thorough criminal check?

The answer to this question revolves around an element contained in the question: “what is the best way”. With regard to the matter of thoroughness, the gains achieved by completing a Vulnerable Sector Verification through a police service compared to conducting these checks using a centralized, consistent and secure EPIC process (such as that offered by SterlingBackcheck) range from negligible to nil depending on the circumstances. That negligible to non-existent benefit should be weighed against what organizations risk when they do not use a secure, centralized, compliant and consistent process. SterlingBackcheck can demonstrate how its processes actually mitigate risk more effectively. Look for three monthly blog articles on this subject commencing in April.

Question 5:

What are the provinces that protect from discrimination?

Each jurisdiction has a different human rights law and there are variations in how these laws are applied with regard to criminal convictions or other police records. Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, British Columbia and Yukon explicitly forbid employment discrimination based on criminal convictions, unless the offence is related to the position. A number of other jurisdictions forbid discrimination based on criminal convictions that are subject to a pardon or record suspension, but those offences are not reported by SterlingBackcheck.

Criminal Record Checks, Part 1: Screening in Canada

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.