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When running a background check, Michigan has several laws that dictate what information can be used and when a background check can be completed. The following will outline all required steps to complete an official records search for the state of Michigan.
As of 2023, there is also a new update that may impact how background checks are run and what information they can search on potential applicants for employment, rental housing (to include tenant background checks), and more.
This update, and the current Michigan laws, provide a framework that should be followed to avoid costly fines and violation penalties when conducing background screenings for professional reasons in Michigan. Note that if your Michigan background check is for personal reasons, you can do so without permission.
Michigan State Background Check Guide: Overview
Most states, including Michigan, have guidelines surrounding the use of background checks for professional reasons, such as employment, financial services, housing applications, and adoption procedures.
A background check is considered an inquiry into a person’s past and can include a variety of different information, from criminal and credit history to your education and driving record (known officially as an MVR report). Legal guidelines and acts are put into place to protect applicants from discriminatory practices based on the information that may be found in a background screening. However, guidelines issued by the state of Michigan don’t usually apply to background checks that are completed for personal reasons. When personal background checks are conducted, these typically glean only public information, which is available to anyone (also known as name-based level 1 background checks).
When information is obtained legally using the correct background check methods, there are also rules that dictate how it can be used. Any negative action taken because of items found on someone’s background check needs to be documented very clearly. Michigan law also requires that the person be informed that a negative action was taken against them.
Michigan Criminal Background Check for Employment: Laws and Rules
Most employers in the state of Michigan will request a background check prior to offering employment. When running a Michigan criminal background check for employment, it is important that all 2023 rules and regulations are followed. Failure to comply can result in fines, penalties and lawsuits.
2023 Rule Updates for Michigan Background Checks
As of 2023, there are both federal and state rules that dictate how pre-employment background checks can be run in the state of Michigan.1 The federal laws in place are related to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Fair Credit Reporting Act
All background checks Michigan will need to comply with the rules set out by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FCRA was passed to protect private information about consumers, including credit history and criminal background information. This act extends into pre-employment checks by limiting the time frame that can be utilized for information as well as how the information found can be used.
Any arrests that didn’t result in a conviction or civil lawsuits can’t be used by employers if they occurred more than seven years prior to the search. This is known as the seven-year rule. There are exceptions to this rule. If a position has a salary of $75,000 or more, the seven-year rule won’t apply. Additionally, it also doesn’t apply to information about criminal convictions. This means that a criminal conviction will show, regardless of its age.
Under the FCRA, all applicants (in any professional capacity) are required to be notified of a background check before it commences. Employers will also need to confirm their consent. Checks completed without the consent of the person being searched are considered non-compliant.
Any adverse action taken because of information found in a pre-employment check will need to follow the FCRA’s procedures to confirm legality.
Civil Rights Act
The Civil Rights Act was put into place to protect against discrimination for employees, both current and prospective. In the case of pre-employment checks, Title VII ensures that all applicants are treated equally, regardless of their race, sexual orientation, or religion. It also prevents employers from putting discriminating hiring processes into place, especially ones that will put a minority in a disadvantaged position.2 The rules set out by this act are governed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Michigan State Laws
In addition to federal laws, Michigan also has specific state laws that dictate how and when background checks can be completed on potential employees.
- Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act (Section 37.2205a): Michigan employers may not make a hiring decision based on an arrest for a misdemeanor charge, assuming the charge didn’t result in a conviction.
- Executive Directive 2019 – 10: This executive directive doesn’t allow employers in Michigan to search for pay history for any candidate.
- Internet Privacy Protection Act: This Act doesn’t allow employers to request private passwords for social media or other online accounts. This is done to protect the candidate’s privacy online.
- Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act: Under the PDCRA, employers aren’t allowed to ask information about a person’s disability or provide a job description that is discriminatory against anyone with a disability.
New Michigan Legislation in 2023
To make matters slightly more complicated, there is also a new proposal in Michigan that may make it difficult to gain access to accurate background check reporting.
Affecting the information displayed on background checks significantly, the newest rule in Michigan has removed identifying information from public records such as court records. Things like birth dates and addresses will no longer be included as of January 2023. This means that it may be more difficult for employers, or anyone else, to have an accurate background check completed on someone.3
Many employers and citizens are concerned about the long-term effects on the ability to complete an accurate background check, especially on people who apply to positions in healthcare and education.
There are a number of people with similar, or even identical, names residing in the same location. Without birth dates or addresses to consult, it would be almost impossible to confirm whether the information obtained is for the right person. Lack of accurate background checks has the potential to negatively impact employment and the housing market. This is why it is now crucial to find someone’s middle name first before conducting a check to avoid false positives.
There is still a conversation occurring with Michigan legislators and communities to determine how this policy can be enacted without negatively impacting the background check process for employers and landlords.
Rules for Employers Taking Adverse Action Based on Information in a Background Check
The rules surrounding how the information found in a background check can be used are just as clear as those detailing what kind of information can be included. The FCRA has set out guidelines that must be followed when determining if an adverse action can be taken based on background check information.
If a criminal conviction is found, the employer will first need to clarify whether or not it has any weight on the person’s ability to do the job in question. For example, someone with a severe sexual offense against a child can be omitted from jobs that work around children. The time since the original offense will also need to be a factor. For example, there is a difference between a crime committed one year ago and one committed 10 years ago.
If the information meets the criteria for denying employment, the employer needs to carefully document the information as well as the reasons behind the adverse action. Once this is done, they are also required to inform the candidate in writing. The candidate does have the opportunity to appeal the decision and provide additional information about the particular circumstance.7
How Far Back Do Background Checks Go In Michigan?
When running a background check, Michigan law conforms to FCRA guidelines. This means that certain records and information can only go back seven years.
This regulation applies to any type of consumer report, not just those run by an employer or other professional.
How Far Back Can Employers Do Background Checks in Michigan?
The FCRA has put the seven-year rule into place, which provides a limit of seven years for all arrests not resulting in a criminal conviction. This rule also applies to civil lawsuits, collections, or bankruptcies.
Contrary to popular belief, the seven-year rule doesn’t apply to all information.
A background check can legally access and return all criminal convictions, regardless of how long ago they were committed. This means that, technically, an employer can go back as far as they would like on your background check – excluding information on arrests without a conviction.
The only way to remove criminal convictions and arrests from a background report is to have them sealed or expunged. Learning about how far back do background checks go can make the process much less daunting for those in the process of having a check completed on themselves.
Who Can Run a Background Check in Michigan?
If you have ever wondered, “Can someone run a background check without my permission?”, the answer might surprise you. The state of Michigan doesn’t currently have any limitations surrounding who can run a background check.
However, this doesn’t mean that anyone can request a full check on someone for no reason. To start, all background checks that require a fingerprint check or those conducted for professional reasons can only be run with the person’s consent and full knowledge. This is done to make sure that their information is kept private and confidential unless they otherwise agree.
The only type of background check that can be completed without consent is a name-based background check, Michigan law allows it to be conducted for personal reasons. It’s important to know that if a name-based background check is being used for professional reasons, consent will still apply. Most name-based background screenings don’t return information that isn’t public, such as credit reports or sealed criminal histories.
Types of Background Checks in Michigan
There are a few different types of background checks that can be run in the state of Michigan. Each different check will return different levels of results.5
- Criminal Background Check
- Employment Verification Check
- Social Media Check
- Driving Record Check
- Sex Offender Registry Check
- Professional Certification Check
- Drug Screening and History Check
- Social Security Trace
Most Michigan employers, at minimum, will look into criminal history, employment verification, and drug screening. If the position in question requires more responsibility, it is likely that more information will be needed.
Most personal background screenings will only request criminal history information.
What Shows Up on Background Checks: Michigan?
Information found on a background check in Michigan will depend on the type of background check that is performed.
Pre-employment checks typically include information regarding the applicant’s criminal history, education, employment, and address verification.
Employment History Background Check: Michigan
For pre-employment background checks, employment history is often one of the more important features. This usually helps employers to confirm that the information provided by the candidate on an application is valid.
If the employment history doesn’t match up, that is considered a red flag. Information about employment history includes the workplace name, dates of employment, and job titles that the candidate has held.
Based on Michigan state law, employers won’t have access to information about the candidate’s previous salary information.
Education Verification: Michigan
A background check can also return information about the person’s education history. As with employment information, verifying someone’s education can help confirm that they are being truthful.
Education verification will typically return the college name, date of attendance, and degree information, but is usually only completed if the position in question requires a specific degree.
Michigan Arrest Records and Michigan Criminal Records
This information found on arrest and criminal records will likely include details of the crime committed, the date of the arrest, any conviction information, and the assigned punishment. In most cases, criminal records that have been sealed or expunged won’t show up on background checks.
Arrests that are more than seven years old that didn’t result in a conviction will also not come back on a background check, in accordance with the FCRA.
What Are Public Criminal Records?
Public records are any record that can be considered available to the public. In Michigan, public criminal records are those that have not been sealed, expunged, or otherwise protected from the view of the public.
In most cases, a crime committed by an adult will be considered a public record, as well as an arrest and custody information.
The state of Michigan does not consider traffic records, local misdemeanors, or juvenile records to be public criminal records and therefore does not include them in the ICHAT search tool. Pending charges and active warrants will also not be available.
How Long Does a Background Check Take?
The time that it takes for a background check, Michigan results can vary. In the best case scenario, information from a check will be processed within 1-2 business days. For more detailed background screenings, the process can take up to 14 days, but is usually completed faster than that if official procedures are followed.
Factors that can impact the time that it takes for a check include the process of obtaining consent, the screening method used, and the type of information being searched.6
If a candidate is late in providing their consent through necessary documents, the screening will ultimately be delayed. While this may seem like a simple step, it’s a common delay in the process. Some people will take their time reviewing necessary documents because they aren’t aware of the urgency behind their completion.
The method of screening can also be a source of delay. If the background check is being handled by a single person rather than a company, it can be time consuming. Having to contact individual agencies to confirm a variety of information will most certainly increase the timeline.
The type of information being searched will also have a large impact on how long the check will take. If the background check only needs to search through a local police database, it will certainly take much less time than one that needs to include a criminal history, drug use check, employment verification, and a license check.
In order to ensure the quickest background check possible, especially for a pre-employment check, communication is key. Employers and background check facilitators can speed up the process by ensuring that they communicate information about deadlines, timelines, and necessary scheduling.
How Do You Run Michigan State Police Criminal Background Checks?
The easiest way to gain access to Michigan State Police criminal history is to search through the online tool provided on their website. This tool will search criminal history records that are currently entered within the state police database.
The Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) is regularly maintained by Michigan’s Criminal Justice Information Center. It is important to note that only public criminal records are available using this tool.
How to Complete A Michigan Warrant Search Through Police Records Michigan
There are several ways to potentially find information about an active warrant by searching through police records, Michigan. While warrants are not available on ICHAT, many counties in Michigan offer a detailed list of active warrants on their website.
If the county you are searching for doesn’t offer this, you will need to contact the Michigan State Police directly. In most cases, they will be able to give you more information regarding an open warrant.
Finding Michigan Arrests Records Free Using Michigan Public Records
Arrest records consist of information that details when someone was placed under arrest by a police officer. These records usually list identifying information about the individual, including their name and date of birth.
It also includes information about the crime they were arrested for, including the date and time of the actual arrest.4 In Michigan, most arrest records are considered public records.
It is important to know that not all arrest records are considered public records. If the arrest occurred more than seven years ago, it likely won’t be found. Most juvenile or misdemeanor arrests also won’t be considered public, unless they were severe charges that resulted in actual convictions.
The easiest way to find Michigan arrests records is by searching the databases of the agency that completed the arrest. In order to do this, you will need to know where the person was arrested.
Agencies vary from local city police departments to county sheriffs, and most all agencies have different databases. If a database isn’t available online, you have the option of sending a written request via mail.
How Do You Run a Background Check on Yourself in Michigan?
If you are interested in running a background check on yourself in Michigan, there are several methods available.
- Use a professional service.
A professional service can conduct a background check for you online. While most services are paid, there are options for a free search as well. Information obtained using a free background check service likely won’t be the same as a paid version, and may have missing information.
- Request A Copy of Your Criminal Record
If you want to know what criminal history information will come back on a background check, Michigan state allows you to request a copy of your record from a law enforcement office or criminal court clerk. Most police departments in Michigan will offer information on how to request your records on their websites.
Alternatively, you can search your name through the online records search platform through the Michigan State Police. In some cases, you will be required to submit a fee to gain access to your records.
Gaining access to your own background check will provide you the chance to correct any misinformation that you find. In some cases, incorrect criminal records or even the wrong address history can be shown on a background check. If you do find errors on your background check, you should get in touch with the corresponding office to discuss its removal.
Michigan follows both federal and state laws regarding background checks and the way they are used. Employers who don’t follow the guidelines are putting themselves at risk for both legal action and potential fines. Michigan checks are also likely to get more complicated, pending the change regarding personal information on court records. Should this take place in 2023, there is a chance that accurate background checks will be hard to obtain.
The most important thing to remember is that when running a background check, Michigan state law should be followed at all times.
1Rodgers, Matthew. 29 Nov 2021. iProspect. Michigan Background Checks: A Complete Guide 2021. 3 Dec 2021. Web. <https://iprospectcheck.com/michigan-background-check/>
2Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. N.d. Pre-Employment Inquiries and Arrest & Conviction. 4 Dec 2021. Web. <https://www.eeoc.gov/pre-employment-inquiries-and-arrest-conviction>
3Advocacy News. 7 Oct 2021. Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Background Check Accuracy at Risk. 5 Dec 2021. Web. <https://www.michamber.com/news/background-check-accuracy-at-risk-unless-new-legislation-passed-prior-to-jan-1/>
4Michigan Criminal Records. N.d. What is a Criminal Record in Michigan? 5 Dec 2021. Web. <https://michigan.staterecords.org/criminal.php#:~:text=Yes%2C%20public%20arrest%20records%20in,free%20arrest%20records%20in%20Michigan>
5Barada Associates. N.d. 11 Different Types of Background Checks. 7 Dec 2021. Web. <https://baradainc.com/different-types-of-background-checks/>
6ScoutLogic. N.d. How Long Do Background Checks Take? 7 Dec 2021. Web. <https://www.scoutlogicscreening.com/blog/how-long-do-background-checks-take>