Hiring Employees

Pre-Employment Consent and Release Form

A pre-employment consent and release form is your "get out of jail free" card for verifications and background checks during the hiring process. Here's what the form should contain and how you can use it to keep your company in legal compliance.

The process of hiring a new employee is fraught with potential missteps and legal pitfalls.

One wrong move and instead of bringing on a new employee, your company could invite a host of legal problems into your organization.

Here's the dilemma you're up against: Applicants have certain rights during the hiring process. As an employer, there are some questions you simply can't ask, especially those that could be used for discriminatory hiring. You are allowed to verify the applicant's background and obtain other information from third parties, but only if the applicants gives you permission to do so.

A pre-employment and consent form is a written document in which the applicant gives your company the authority to obtain information related to the application process. It's important that your company's form does not include any personal information about the applicant other than the basics, (i.e. name, address and other information that is absolutely required by third parties) because you may be asked to forward a signed copy of the form to the party from whom you are requesting information about the applicant.

Here's some of the other information that needs to be included in a good Pre-Employment Consent & Release form:

  • Information accuracy. Employers make hiring decisions based on the information that is contained in the employment application and other hiring documents. The verification process is intended to confirm information provided by the applicant. But unless your pre-employment and consent form includes a clause that states the information the applicant has provided is true, it can be difficult to legally disqualify the applicant based on discrepancies that arise during the verification process.
  • Description of company actions. The form should clearly describe the activities your company will perform to verify the applicant's credentials. Although you might not conduct all of the verifications listed, it's helpful to specify a laundry list of background checks and employment verifications that may pursue.
  • Employer authorization. Pre-employment screening forms authorize employers to dig into the applicant's background - and it's important to explicitly state this to eliminate any legal confusion.
  • Release from legal liability. Your pre-employment consent form should also explicitly state that the applicant releases your company from any legal claims or liability connected with your research. Since specific language can be legally murky, ask your attorney to review the form and suggest changes to ensure full legal protection.

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