Guide to Hawaii Background Checks

Sarah Archambault
January 08, 2024
6 min read

Background checks in Hawaii help employers determine a candidate’s eligibility for a role, create safer workplaces, and reduce potential legal risks. Hiring managers can use these checks to look into an individual’s history, including criminal records, education, driving records, and credit reports. 

This guide covers what employers need to know about Hawaii background checks, including an overview of federal, state, and local hiring regulations, what shows up on a background check, and how to conduct background screenings yourself or with a background check service.

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What is a Hawaii background check?

A background check in Hawaii searches a variety of public records and databases to provide employers with information about a job candidate's history, including criminal records, driving history, previous employment and education, credit history, and more.

Pre-employment background checks are commonly used to vet job candidates and volunteers by learning more about an individual’s history and determining eligibility for a role. In some cases, a background screening may be conducted to meet a legal hiring requirement, such as motor vehicle record checks for commercial drivers. Hiring managers can request this information from state agencies such as the Hawaii Motor Vehicle Safety Office or the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center (HCJD) or partner with a qualified consumer reporting agency (CRA), like Checkr, who can streamline the screening process and reduce your team’s workload.

Why do employers need to run background checks in Hawaii?

Hawaii employment background checks allow hiring managers to review a candidate’s qualifications, establish employment eligibility, and verify information provided on a resume or job application. Conducting a background screening can help employers make more informed hiring decisions, mitigate compliance risk, and create a safer work environment. In some cases, pre-employment background checks may be required by law. For example, healthcare workers and childcare workers in Hawaii must pass mandatory state background checks.

What shows up on a background check in Hawaii?

Hawaii employment background checks can provide information on a candidate’s criminal history, education, work history, driving record, or drug test results. Here are some of the common types of Hawaii employment background checks and what typically shows up:

    • Criminal background checks search a candidate’s criminal history and can show records of arrests, convictions, and incarcerations, along with both current and past arrest warrants at the county, state, and federal level. However, records from Hawaii may show convictions only, depending on the role and requesting organization.

    • Driving record checks review a person's driving record, including their driving history, license status, safety record, eligibility to drive, and class of license.

    • Credit background checks look into a candidate’s credit history and show financial information like payment history, accounts in collections, and bankruptcies. This type of check is often used for jobs that require financial responsibility.

    • Civil court searches look into an individual’s civil court records and can show several types of non-criminal information, such as restraining orders, lawsuits, liens, and judgments.

    • Employment verification shows information about a candidate’s professional background, including previous employers, positions held, and employment dates. 

    • Education verification validates an individual’s academic history, and can show schools attended, degrees earned, and graduation dates. 

    • Drug testing screens a candidate for illicit substances and commonly abused prescription medications.

Hawaii background check laws and restrictions

Employers need to comply with various Hawaii employment background check laws, along with local and federal regulations. Hawaii has a statewide Ban the Box law that affects private and public employers plus additional state and local fair hiring laws. Hawaii was the first US state to implement Ban the Box laws, which are designed to help protect candidates with criminal records from discrimination and remove bias from hiring processes. To minimize potential legal risks, organizations may choose to comply with the strictest federal, state, and local regulations and consult counsel. 

Hawaii’s Ban the Box Law: HRS §378-2.5(a)

Summary: This state law allows employers to inquire about criminal convictions after a conditional offer of employment. However, in most cases, employers can only use a candidate’s conviction history when making hiring decisions if the conviction has a relation to the job duties. Felony conviction lookback periods are limited to seven years, while misdemeanor convictions can only go back five years, unless certain exceptions apply. 

In the event an individual has a conviction, employers are required to conduct an individualized assessment of the information on the report as it relates to the job before making a final decision about hiring the candidate for the role. If an employer chooses not to hire a candidate based on information found in the report, they must follow an adverse action process. See law

Arrest Records: Hawaii Revised Statutes §831-3.2

Summary: This state law prohibits employers from considering arrest records in employment decisions unless there is evidence that the arrest directly relates to job duties or the candidate’s ability to perform the role. In addition, employers are not allowed to consider expunged criminal records or ask a candidate about expungements. See law.

Credit Reports: Hawaii Revised Statutes Division 1. Government § 378-2.7

Summary: Under this state law, the ability to obtain a credit report is limited only to certain types of authorized employers. Employers are prohibited from checking a candidate's credit report before making a conditional offer of employment and are not permitted to use credit reports to make hiring decisions unless there is a substantial relationship between the candidate’s financial history and the role. See law.

Salary Inquiries: Hawaii Revised Statutes §378-2.4

Summary: Under this state law, employers are allowed to ask candidates about salary expectations but are prohibited from asking a candidate about their salary history in previous roles. In addition, salary history cannot be used to determine the salary or benefits for the role in question. See law.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Summary: Hawaii employers that choose to partner with a CRA to perform background checks are required to comply with the federal regulations provided by the FCRA. Under this law, employers must provide a candidate with written notice of the intent to perform a background check and receive the individual’s written consent. In the event information is returned during the search that causes an employer to not move forward with hiring the candidate, the adverse action process should be followed. See law.

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Local Hawaii fair hiring laws 

In Hawaii there are no local fair hiring laws that apply to public and private sector employers. All employers in the counties of Hawaii, Honolulu, Kalawao, Kauai, and Maui are required to follow Hawaii Revised Statutes §378-2.5(a) which does not allow inquiries into a candidate’s conviction history until after a conditional offer of employment.

How to get a background check in Hawaii

Hawaii employers can choose to conduct a background check on their own or partner with a trusted background check provider, like Checkr. To get comprehensive background checks for job candidates, employers may order and review records from a wide range of sources—including courthouses, law enforcement agencies, educational institutions, and previous employers—depending on the type of screening.

While certain records may need to be requested in person, over the phone, or by mail, employers can conduct some types of background checks in Hawaii online. For example, Hawaii criminal records can be requested in person at state public access sites or through the Adult Criminal Conviction Information (eCrim) website. Motor vehicle records are available in person at a Hawaii Traffic Violations Bureau or District Court, or can be requested by mail. They can also be ordered online when employers subscribe to the state's bulk traffic abstracts portal. 

Performing background checks in-house can cost employers valuable staff time and leave them open to a higher level of risk from human error during the background check process. Employers that choose to work with a modern background check provider often experience a more efficient process that results in more accurate reporting, comprehensive records, and quicker turnaround times. A CRA, like Checkr, can perform multiple types of background checks at any scale, plus provides simplified compliance workflows that make managing compliance with federal, state, and local laws easier. 

How far back do employment background checks go in Hawaii?

Lookback periods in Hawaii depend on the type of background check being conducted and who is performing the check. Hawaiian law limits criminal background check reporting periods to seven years for felony convictions and five years for misdemeanor convictions. There are no legal restrictions on background check lookback periods when verifying a candidate's education history, employment history, or professional licenses.

Employers that use a background check provider, like Checkr, should also comply with the FCRA’s requirements for companies relying on background checks in the hiring process. Under the FCRA, civil matters, like accounts in collections, paid tax liens, and civil lawsuits can only go back seven years. Bankruptcies, on the other hand, can be reported as far back as ten years. The FCRA does not limit reporting for criminal convictions, but Hawaii’s Ban the Box law does impose limitations as noted above.

FCRA lookback periods may not apply to jobs with an expected salary of over $75,000. Employers that perform a Hawaii employment background check on their own, without the help of a CRA, are not subject to the reporting limits of the FCRA or similar state laws, but should consult with their legal counsel to understand if any other laws and regulations might apply.

How long does a Hawaii state background check take?

Turnaround times for state of Hawaii background checks vary from a few minutes to several weeks depending on who is conducting the check, the scope of the search, and the types of records requested. For example, Hawaii driving records can take up to 10 days to process when ordered by mail.

When performing background checks themselves, hiring managers often need to manually request candidate information, including court records and motor vehicle records, from many different public record sources. Non-public records, like reference checks, can require additional legwork, like making phone calls to past employers. 

Organizations that choose to partner with a background check provider can benefit from faster turnaround times, more accurate reporting, and less lost staff time. With Checkr, 84% of reports are completed in under 15 minutes thanks to advanced technology that gathers and sorts data from thousands of databases and record sources—so your team doesn’t have to. Checkr’s candidate portal further streamlines the process, providing employers and candidates with a transparent view of each report’s status and keeping candidates moving through your pipeline. 

What is the cost of a Hawaii background check?

The cost of a Hawaii background check depends on which reports you order and whether you conduct screenings yourself or partner with a background check provider. First, let's consider the cost of individual background reports. For example, in Hawaii, a certified traffic abstract typically costs $20, while a driving record costs $9. The cost of criminal records can range from $30 for a name check report to $55 per fingerprint check.

The cost of a background check also includes the amount employers pay for labor associated with sourcing, reviewing, and following up on screenings. Hiring teams that manually order reports while juggling other HR tasks may end up spending more time on background checks than professional background check services—meaning higher operating costs and a lower ROI for the organization.

On the other hand, Hawaii employers that partner with a modern CRA, like Checkr, can benefit from lower overhead, more accurate results, and pricing packages that include multiple screening types streamlined into one workflow. Screening packages can be customized based on records needed, number of background checks, and screening frequency. 

FAQs on Hawaii background checks

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions for employers interested in conducting background checks in Hawaii.

Does a DUI affect a background check in Hawaii?

DUI convictions—which can be misdemeanors or felonies, depending upon the severity and number of occurrences—can show up on Hawaii background checks. Under state law, felony DUI convictions will appear on a background check for seven years, while misdemeanor convictions show for five years.  Certain employment types will require the consideration of a DUI during background check evaluation.

Does Hawaii have a seven-year rule for background checks?

Yes, Hawaii has a law that limits an employer’s consideration of criminal records contained in a background check to records that are no older than seven years. The federal FCRA also limits background check reporting periods for certain civil records to seven years, in some cases.

Get a Hawaii background check with Checkr

Hawaii employers who choose Checkr for background checks can experience faster turnaround times, improved risk management, and more comprehensive, accurate reporting. Organizations of all sizes benefit from Checkr’s multiple screening options, modern background check platform, easy-to-use dashboards, and seamless integration with 100+ ATS and HRIS platforms. Plus, access to built-in compliance tools provides added peace of mind. Get started with Checkr today.

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The resources and information provided here are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Always consult your own counsel for up-to-date legal advice and guidance related to your practices, needs, and compliance with applicable laws.

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About the author

Sarah writes about small business topics and corporate communications. She has written on a wide range of topics, including background checks, hiring trends, company culture, and employee training and development. Her work includes educational articles, press releases, newsletters, and employee onboarding collateral. 

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