Level 2 background check has proven itself to be an important tool that allows organizations and stakeholders to dig through the history of an individual before she/he could be employed or allowed access to secure facilities or resources. Higher the level of security required for granting such access, in-depth would be background checks required.
A level 2 background check allows organizations, high-security facilities, and stakeholders to understand the level of risk an individual may pose to the people or resources if provided access to them.
How deep can background checks go?
In general, a background check aka background investigation or background screening is a process, in which past records of an individual seeking access, employment, immigration, licensure, etc. are investigated. Organizations or government agencies do this to ascertain the level of risk an individual may pose if granted access to protected information, resources, or facilities as well as to other employees or customers.
We can understand it by an example. In the United States, schools are required to run background checks on the applicants they are looking to employ. This is particularly true for the individuals that may come in direct contact with the children/students. Since children can be highly vulnerable to malicious intent if an employee is hired without running criminal background checks she/he may pose a significant risk to the students. The same is true for other facilities in which other vulnerable groups may reside, such as care homes, adult care facilities, healthcare facilities, etc.
In the above example, we took employment background checks which included fingerprint-based criminal history background checks. Background checks, however, may be as superficial as verifying your work experience or credentials or maybe as in-depthas performing drug tests, online activity checks, financial transactions, your links with foreign governments, etc. depending on the criticality of the access you are going to be granted.
What is a level 2 background check?
To understand what a level 2 background check is, we also need to have a look at the level 1 background check to compare its scope. First of all, level 2 (as well as level 1) background checks are the terms used in the state of Florida legislation.
These “levels” tell about the method of background check used and the extent of the data searched; however, the terms may also refer to certain disqualifying offenses if certain statutes are used as references.
What is noteworthy here is that these terms – Level 1 and Level 2 are used in Florida Statutes and are not used either by the FBI or by other states.
Level 1 background check
Under Chapter 435.03, Florida Statutes, employees should undergo a level 1 background check as a basic, less in-depth screening method. This includes, but is not limited to, state-wide employment history, criminal records, and sex offender registry.
To be subjected to a level 1 background check, an individual should neither be awaiting arrest nor holding any record of felony or delinquency as prohibited by the Florida Statute or similar provisions of law.
Level 2 background check
On the other hand, a level 2 background check conveys the extent of record searches that Florida employers may conduct on as part of their pre-employment screening. Typically, a level 2 background check covers the search of fingerprint-based information, national criminal history records, as well as county criminal records.
Employers conducting level 2 background checks coordinate with, and comply with the requirements of, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the national Federal Bureau of Investigation, local courts, and law enforcement agencies to obtain these records. They are permitted to engage the services of qualified pre-employment screening vendors to conduct electronic fingerprinting and maintain the integrity and security of all information obtained.
What are disqualifying offenses for level 2 background check?
Level 2 background check is a broad criminal record screening that includes a fingerprint-based check for state-wide criminal history records through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and national criminal history records through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Since a level 2 background check is comprehensive in nature, it digs through a lot of information to ensure that the candidate is hired for a position of trust and can actually prove worthy of it.
If criminal records show up during your level 2 background check, it may lead to disqualification depending on the severity of the crime.
While minor misdemeanors may be overlooked by an employer, felony convictions will most probably be considered as disqualifying offenses for employment in which a level 2 background check is required.
- Sexual misconduct of several types
- Murder, manslaughter, homicide, etc.
- Abuse of a child, elderly, patient, or disabled
There are many more disqualifying offenses for level 2 background checks. All the offenses can be found listed here individually.
Poor credit history
For many jobs, types such as banking, finance, securities, etc., your credit history mean a lot. If you haven’t been able to maintain a good credit history, it will most probably result in disqualification in your level 2 background check.
Failing drug test
A drug test may be performed for the job types that attract level 2 background checks. If you are an unlawful user of or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance and it shows up in your drug test, you can be disqualified from the hiring process.
Furnishing incorrect information
If you are undergoing a hiring process for a position of trust or responsibility, it will most probably require a level 2 background check.
In such a scenario, lying on your resume or furnishing incorrect information to make your candidature look better than others, will be a really bad choice. If the information could not be verified during the background check and is found to be a lie, you will be straightway disqualified from the hiring process.
Other than that, if you have a lot of short-lived jobs on your resume, multiple gaps without reasonable explanation, and an employment history that makes you look unstable, an employer might choose to trash your resume.
Poor DRV records
Poor driving history can disqualify you from a level 2 background check especially if the job requires you to drive a vehicle. Too many citations, convictions for reckless driving, or driving under the influence will lead to disqualification from the hiring process.
Online and social media activity
Screening online activity such as social media posts, tweets, etc. may seem as if going beyond the limits of a level 2 background check. However, it is a known secret that some employers, especially government agencies may choose to screen your online activity for some employment types. Your social media posts, comments, tweets, etc. that show your political bias, the ideology you follow, etc. can have an impact on a final employment decision.
Who needs to go through a level 2 background check?
Level 2 background check is way more invasive than the level 1 check that digs through your criminal history before considering you for a clearance, licensure, or certain employment types. While a level 1 background check is only performed with a name-based search, a level 2 background check would require you to submit your fingerprints and will look up the interactions that you have had with law enforcement, credit agencies, department of motor vehicles, etc.
A level 2 background check applies to those employees designated by law as holding positions of responsibility or trust. Section 435.04, mandates that level 2 background security investigations be conducted on employees, defined as individuals required by law to be fingerprinted pursuant to Chapter 435.
How far back does a level 2 background check go?
Some federal employment positions may allow access to sensitive information and resources. Federal security checks are also performed along with usual background checks and criminal history for such employment positions. There are different levels of security clearance depending on the job profile and the level of access it provides to sensitive information.
For example, a high-level military position that allows access to top-secret military information will require the highest level of security clearance. These security clearance checks can go down to your social media profiles, travel history, foreign partialities, medical history, personal misconduct, and more.
So how far back does a level 2 background check go? Florida has no laws that limit how far back an employer can look into a candidate’s past regarding criminal convictions. However, the state does abide by national laws, including the FCRA – The Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FCRA’s “seven-year rule” mandates that arrests not be reported for more than seven years on any background check. Florida follows these rules even for level 2 background checks.
The FCRA predetermines how far back a background check (including a level 2 background check) can go in the United States. For this reason, the CRAs are restricted from reporting arrest records that did not lead to convictions (more than seven years ago) as a reason to disqualify a candidate.
How long does a level 2 background check take?
Time taken by a background check process depends on a lot of factors. First of all, it depends on the way of submission. If you have chosen to submit your background check application as well as fingerprints using a paper-based method, in which you have to snail mail paper forms along with your fingerprints on the FD-258 fingerprint card, it is bound to take longer.
The FBI’s systems are all automated and the agency needs digital fingerprint images irrespective of the format they are received in. So your fingerprint impressions on FD-258 are first scanned and converted into digital images before the FBI officials can commence the criminal history record search.
On the contrary, electronic submissions will return faster results as there is no time wasted in mailing the forms or digital image conversion from fingerprint cards. In the paper-based process, your wait time starts from the time the FBI receives your application and the request gets queued up in the request pipeline.
In normal circumstances, level 2 background checks should take no longer than two to three days to return results. However, in extraordinary circumstances such as an unusual spike in the number of requests, short staff to process requests (which happened during Covid-19), system-related issues, delays at county courts due to court staffing and backlog challenges, such as seasonal hiring spikes, etc. may lead to longer wait times.
The state of Florida follows a different nomenclature for background checks, which is neither followed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation nor by any other U.S. state. Regardless of what they call it, a Level 1 background check allows a state-wide name-based search of criminal history records. On the other hand, a level 2 criminal history background check conducts a state and national fingerprint-based check and consideration of disqualifying offenses.
Having two different levels of background checks allows the state of Florida to execute only checks that may be required for a position. For example, for the employment types which do not pose any major risk to the people or resources, level 1 background checks will suffice. On the other hand, in the position of trust or responsibility, employers can level up and request more thorough level 2 background checks.