Level 2 Background Check: What Is It? Differences B/w L1 And L2 Check

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A background check allows employers to check a person’s criminal record, education, employment history, and other past activities to gauge whether an employee fulfills the conditions of employment. Background checks can be of many types depending on the context and situation of the verification process.  Background checks have become mandatory when applying for a new job, looking for a new apartment, purchasing a firearm, work permits in the country, professional entitlement claims, and many other situations.

Different states have different forms of background checks. A Level 1 and Level 2 background checks are two such necessary background checking procedures pertaining to the state of Florida. A Level 1 and Level 2 background check is defined in Chapter 435 of the Florida Statutes (F.S.).

All employers are required by law to be screened and undergo a Level 2 background check as a condition of employment and continued employment. A Level 2 background check is a state and national fingerprint-based verification of individuals for criminal history and records.  Section 435.04, F.S. requires certain employers to conduct level 2 background checks for positions that involve working with children, elderly persons, and other vulnerable populations.

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Level 2 background check

A Level 2 background check ensures that no person has been arrested for a criminal offense that may include murder, negligence, and sexual misconduct, domestic violence, healthcare-related crimes, etc.  Under the Level 2 background check, all employers must ensure that employees are not awaiting any final disposition, have been found guilty of or adjudicated delinquent in any criminal activities, and safely comply with the provisions laid out by the concerned law enforcement agencies.  A Level 2 background check employs fingerprinting for statewide criminal history record checks through the Department of Law Enforcement and national criminal history records checks through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A fingerprint background check or Identity History Summary with millions of fingerprints provides an accurate description of a person’s criminal history from authorized agencies with detailed criminal disposition reports. Fingerprints must be scanned and submitted electronically to the Department of Law Enforcement. As a condition of employment, applicants can visit an authorized fingerprint vendor or government organization like the FBI to have fingerprints scanned and submitted.

Read on to learn the difference between Level 1 and Level 2 background check

Level 1 and Level 2 background check differences

A Level 1 background check is a name-based check for employment history and criminal record.  A Level 1 check is limited to state jurisdiction using the applicant’s name and carried out by state and local law enforcement agencies. Most companies perform name-based background checks in favor of fingerprint-based checks as part of the hiring or screening process. Employers prefer name-based background checks as they are more compliant and transparent than fingerprint checks. All employees are required by law as a condition of employment and continued employment to undergo Level 1 background check for checking employment history, statewide criminal record, and any sexual offense through the Department of Law Enforcement.

A level 2 background check using fingerprint is conducted on employees holding positions of trust and responsibility. As mentioned earlier, it involves a comprehensive fingerprint-based background check involving the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the FBI. Florida is the only state with a Level 2 background check. Section 435.04, F.S., mandates Level 2 security background checks to be conducted on employees who are required by law to be fingerprinted in accordance with Chapter 435, F.S.

A Level 2 background check is mandatory for public institutions such as schools, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, airports, fire departments, and other industries such as banks, financial planning, and insurance companies. The FDLE provides a criminal history record for about $24. However, other background checks such as employment history and other relevant information are not provided by the department. Similarly, the FBI provides a background summary of a person for a fee of $18. This summary includes a person’s criminal history, federal employment, naturalization, military service, etc.

A case of background check

Background checks ensure a safe workplace by providing critical information about a person's history and background. They help minimize risks and threats associated with hiring or retaining an employee with a devious track record.  Background screenings are becoming increasingly common, especially as an essential pre-employment condition.  Each applicant and employee can add complexity to the business and significantly impact the brand reputation. Background checks are an effective way to tackle these issues.

A Level 2 background check based on state and national fingerprint screening ensures that an employee or person under investigation has not been arrested or facing trial for criminal offense and disposition. However, an employer should consider the existing background screening laws before carrying out a background investigation. For instance, background checks vary from one jurisdiction to another. Employers also have to meet a different set of regulations, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), to ensure that background checks are conducted fairly.  A Level 2 background check is performed on employees with significant levels of responsibility. A proper assessment of background, hence, becomes imperative and essential for avoiding potential pitfalls.


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