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Employment Screening and Zero Tolerance to Violence

Have you ever considered how your employment screening policy can be used to reduce workplace violence? Why not try adopting a zero-tolerance approach to violence and workplace theft? This can have a dramatic effect of the attitude of employees and their own rejection of anybody with a violent or aggressive personality.

If your company does not take a vigorous approach to eliminating workplace violence, you could find yourself guilty, if not of negligent hiring, then certainly of failing to protect your workforce from aggressive and violent behaviour. This type of violence can be very costly in terms of lost hours and even the loss of valued employees who decide that enough is enough.

Payments for damages and legal costs can be very high, and these can be mitigated somewhat by courts that see that you have adopted a zero-tolerance policy and are working hard to make the workplace a safer environment for your employees. This type of policy must commence at the employment screening stage with a clear statement of intent on all application forms.

The very first step in the employment screening procedure that a job applicant comes across is the application form. Your policy should be clearly stated here. You should make clear that you have adopted a zero-tolerance approach to workplace violence and theft, and that all employees have bought into this. You should state that employees do not tolerate aggressive or violent behavior and that when this is brought to managementís attention the employees concerned will be immediately dismissed without notice.

An effective employment screening policy starts with the application form; this should make it clear that all references provided will be taken up and checked, and that residential and occupational records for the past seven to ten years (you state which) must be complete. Unless a written explanation and proof is provided, no gaps will be accepted and the applicant need not apply. Any applicant with a criminal conviction for violence or theft need not apply and that driving records and criminal records will be searched.

All of this should be stated on a well designed application form, and not hidden in small print on the back of the form. If the applicant passes the usual employment screening checks, the interview should be conducted by a well trained interviewer, able to use behavioral interviewing techniques to filter out those with aggressive and violent tendencies. The interview should reinforce the zero-policy approach to workplace violence, and wherever relevant the policy must be applied firmly without any agreements on three months trials for good behavior. No one with aggressive tendencies should be employed.

You can apply your own rules as to whom you employ, as long as your employment screening procedure is not based on race, religion, age or gender. You are not obliged to employ anyone with a history of aggression or violence, and if you are serious about your policy, you must not do so.

Any applicant with something to hide in their past is liable to be discouraged from applying, and keep in mind that the employment screening process is designed to prevent you from being guilty of negligent hiring as well as protecting existing employees. This will result in greater productivity from your employees, and less of a chance that you could face a damages claim for negligent hiring.

You should also apply the zero-tolerance to your existing workforce. The penalties for workplace violence should clearly be stated on notice boards, and where appropriate, discussed with unions. No union will tolerate violence or theft from other employees and union backing will send a very positive message of a combined policy to the whole workforce.

The penalty for committing violence on a fellow employee must be clearly stated, and should be instant dismissal with the loss of any rights that can be withdrawn under the law of the day. If this includes pension rights, this should also be applied. It should be made clear that workplace violence will not be tolerated. This zero-tolerance policy should also be applied to theft from fellow employees. This is a heinous crime which again should not be tolerated.

This is a problem that needs a vigorous approach and you should be aware that if this is a problem that you have in your company, and you fail to tackle it properly, you could find yourself on the end of a lawsuit for damages should one of your employees refuse to put up with the violence any more. This could also result in a negligent hiring case.

Both of these are financial bad news so get it stopped now. It starts with employment screening and half measures will have no effect.

About the Author: Advanced Research is a national provider of employee screening solutions made up of a team of experts in risk management, human resources and legal investigations. Contact us for a free consultation.

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