Criminal background checks have, in many ways, never been easier for employers. The internet has made that process quicker, cheaper and more transparent.

And yet, the question of "when" must employers run a criminal background check remains confusing. There are various laws on the subject but they are in different sections of the law and trying to come up with a master list is a difficult task.

So credit the Office of Legislative Research for coming up with a very useful primer this month on when background checks are required by state statutes.

So what does the report cover in detail? Well, the OLR report identifies "all occupations, persons, or other entities for which criminal history background checks are required by statute." It also discusses who is responsible for the criminal history checks and what procedures must be followed. Lastly, it identifies whether the subjects of these checks may be employed or licensed before the check has been completed.

Who is most likely to be covered? According to the OLR report:

Among the many individuals required to undergo criminal history checks are public school employees and school nurses, police officers, bail bondsmen and bail enforcement agents, private investigators, state marshals, locksmiths, pawnbrokers and precious metals dealers (at local option), and coaches with direct contact with children in police-sponsored athletic activities.

Criminal history checks are also required for applicants for nursing home licenses, various types of gaming related licenses, detective and security service licenses, taxicab company certificates, and at the discretion of the Department of Banking (DOB), various entities in the financial services industry. …

In addition to these many types of individuals and businesses, the laws require criminal history checks for prospective employees of several state agencies including the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Department of Children and Families (DCF), Division of Special Revenue (DSR), and Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), as well as employees in the vital records unit of the Department of Public Health (DPH), Department of Correction (DOC) employees who have direct contact with inmates, and Department of Developmental Services (DDS) employees who provide direct client care.

Kudos to the OLR for putting together this very helpful primer; I recommend it as a great starting point for employers looking to figure out their legal obligations.