Human Resources/Employment verification
QUESTION: Hi Brian,
I had a quick question about employment verifications. Is it allowed to do salary verification, hire date verifications for current employees without employee consent? For example if banks, mortage companies, apartment leasing companies call to verify an employee's current salary, title, DOH, can HR provide that without employee's consent?
Thanks for your help.
As the HR manager of a company, I would not answer any questions until I feel generally sure the caller making the inquiry is legitimate. After that, I would feel it out to provide info at different stages of completeness.
Once I feel it is a real inquiry, and WITHOUT employee knowledge or consent, I would agree to VERIFY information given to me by the caller about the employee. I would confirm only the following :
1- Whether the person is or was an employee
2- Dates of employment, and
3- Whether the person is eligible for rehire.
It would go like this:
Caller-- Brian, I'm calling about Joe Smith- Is he a current employee and can you tell me his dates of employment?
Me: Glad to help.. What is your name and Company name? Your phone number there ?
Maybe if things sound odd, I might say I'm busy and will need to call the caller back to test if it is legitimate
Caller : Bill Brown from ABC Mortgage Company. So is he employed and what are his dates of employment?
Me: OK . Yes, he is currently employed. Please tell me what dates he told you and I will verify. ( Might want to mark down the time they called and the date)
Caller: Can't you just give me his dates? I dont have them right here !
Me: Sorry- no, I'll wait for you to get them.
Caller: He said he started June 2001
Me: That is right.
If he has no info on dates, I would be suspect and stop and tell him to fax or email an authorization from the employee to me. Any reputable firm doing a background check like this will have had the employee sign a form in advance-- they would expect this and they likely already have ALL the information they are calling YOU to verify-- hence the name "Background Check".
If the caller wants other information like salary or dependent information, I would tell them I will be happy to give it to you- fax over the employee's authorization allowing the release of info to the party REQUESTING the info-- to go to Mr Brown from ABC Mortgage.
Last, if the caller gives you a hard time, tell them you will get the info and call them back. THEN call the employee and inform them of the situation. They may know about it and say it is fine-- in which case ask the employee to give you permission to release their info.
The only time you can release wage info without the employee's consent is for a government, state or court order- like for a child support garnishment, unemployment paperwork, tax levy from IRS, etc. etc.
You need to know the difference between what is legitimate and what will get you and your employer in trouble for releasing confidential or protected information. If you really want to be sure, immediately ask the caller in all cases to send you the employee authorization or they will get no info from you; as per your Company's policy.
I hope this helps.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you Brian. I had a follow up question to your point below.
The only time you can release wage info without the employee's consent is for a government, state or court order- like for a child support garnishment, unemployment paperwork, tax levy from IRS, etc. etc
My question is for the above. Is the employer allowed to disclose to the employee that the employer has received child support garnishment?
In short, sure.... the employee would find out anyway as soon as they get their first check.
For example, the official garnishments you mentioned will tell the employer when to begin making the deductions, how much to deduct and for what period of time. So, the garnishment may tell the employer to begin the deduction as soon as possible.
Now- just for argument sake, if you pay weekly, you might be able , as the EMPLOYER, to give the employee 1 pay cycle without the garnishment just because it would be hard to set up the garnishment with the payroll company or in your own system. However I would not advise to let this garnishment go more than one cycle before it is set up to begin the deductions.
Clearly, the employee did something to warrant an attachment to their wages, and for this reason, any employer who refuses to attach and submit the wages in the timing and manner as defined on the document puts the company at risk to be sued or responsible for the amounts due.
So, if you have a small business, it might be a nice courtesy to call an employee to the side and let the employee know you got a garnishment in the mail today and maybe even give them a copy of it for their records, but I don't believe there is any requirement to give any notice. The employer should only disclose this to the employee and should explain to the employee the company MUST make the attachment to their wages. If they want to dispute the attachment amount or reasons or they say "this was already paid", they must personally call the entity who attached the wages and work it out. The employer should NEVER get in the middle of this unless there was an obvious error on the employer's part in making the deductions-- for example, like the employer never turned off the deduuction and the employee paid $ 4000 dollars instead of $1800. The company MUST follow the wage order until officially told to do otherwise.
I hope this helps.