Guide to Missouri State Background Checks

Sarah Archambault
February 09, 2024
6 min read

Background checks can help employers mitigate risk, confirm a candidate’s eligibility, and make more informed decisions when hiring. Here’s what you should know before conducting background checks in Missouri.

Employers often perform background checks as part of the hiring process to verify a candidate’s background, find out about criminal convictions, and collect other information that may be helpful when making hiring decisions. In some situations, MO background checks are required by federal, state, or industry regulations. Employers conducting background screenings in Missouri must be careful to follow applicable federal, state, and local laws.

In this guide, we’ll explain how employment background checks in Missouri are used, what information you may see in a Missouri background check, and how to manage compliant background screenings.

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What is a Missouri background check?

A Missouri background check searches public records and other sources of data to gather information that helps employers make informed hiring decisions. Background checks in Missouri can be used to verify a candidate’s employment history and education, search for criminal records, check driving records, and more. Organizations may use employment background checks for job candidates, current employees, or potential volunteers.

Why do employers need to run background checks in Missouri?

By conducting a Missouri background check for employment, employers can gather information to help them establish a candidate’s eligibility for a position and make more confident hiring decisions. Background checks can also mitigate risk to employees, clients, and customers and help protect employers from potential claims of negligent hiring.

When federal or state laws or industry regulations require employment screenings for certain positions, employers must perform background checks to comply with these rules. For example, employment drug tests are required for commercial driver’s license (CDL) positions regulated by the US Department of Transportation (DOT); Missouri requires criminal background checks for school bus drivers and other school personnel whose jobs involve contact with children. Employers may also want to perform certain background checks, such as drug testing, for positions such as those involving child care or public safety.

What shows up on a Missouri background check?

The information reported in a Missouri background check can vary based on the type and scope of background screening. The results of a background check may include a candidate’s criminal history, employment and education history, driving record, and more. Here are some of the types of information employers may see in a MO background check.

    • Criminal background checks in Missouri may show open criminal records from the state, including convictions, pending charges, arrests made within the past 30 days, suspended imposition of sentence during probation, and whether the individual is listed in the Missouri Sex Offender Registry

    • Motor vehicle records checks may show the individual’s driver’s license status (such as current, expired, or suspended), license class, traffic violations and citations, DWI/DUI convictions, and some felony convictions related to operating a vehicle.

    • Education history shows a candidate’s dates of attendance and any degrees or credentials awarded.  

    • Employment history confirms a candidate’s previous employment, including dates worked and positions held. 

    • Credit reports may show open credit accounts, payment history, and public information such as tax liens, collections, and bankruptcies.

    • Drug tests can detect the presence of illicit substances or alcohol in samples such as urine, saliva, hair, or blood.

What disqualifies candidates from employment?

What can disqualify a candidate from employment depends on a variety of factors, including the employer’s policies, applicable laws, and the position for which the candidate applied. Depending on the employer’s background check policy and the role applied for, a Missouri pre-employment background check that reports a recent DUI might disqualify an individual from working as a delivery driver for a retail shop, for instance, but not from working as a cashier in the shop.

Federal, state, or local laws may also disqualify individuals from certain positions based on background screening results. Under Missouri state law, for example, a candidate for a job at a residential care facility is ineligible if a criminal background check reports a misdemeanor or felony conviction for a sexual offense.

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Missouri background check laws

Employers should be aware of the following Missouri employment background check laws when developing a background screening policy.

Missouri Senate Bill 40

Summary: Missouri Senate Bill 40 establishes background check requirements for certain regulated positions and industries, including working with children, residential care facilities, and marijuana facilities. 

    • Any person aged 18 and up who is not already a student and requests enrollment in a course taking place on school grounds when K-12 students are present must undergo a state criminal history background check.

    • Owners, employees, contractors, and volunteers at marijuana facilities must undergo a fingerprint-based state and federal criminal background check.

    • Employees, owners, officers, volunteers, and anyone else connected with a licensed child placement agency or licensed residential care facility must undergo a state criminal historybackground check.

See law.

Missouri Revised Statute §168.133

Summary: All school personnel, volunteers, and school bus drivers who have contact with students must undergo a fingerprint-based state criminal background check and an FBI criminal background check. See law.

Missouri Revised Statute § 630.170

Summary: Any employee who will come in contact with patients, residents, or clients of a public or private mental health facility or mental health program, including residential facilities and day programs, must disclose any criminal history and undergo a criminal background check. Employers must also check whether an individual is on the disqualification list of the Missouri Department of Social Services or Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. See law.

Missouri Revised Statute § 210.493

Summary: Owners, employees, contractors, and volunteers with access to children at all licensed and license-exempt child placement agencies and residential care facilities must undergo a fingerprint-based state and FBI background check and a search of the National Sex Offender Registry. Employers must also search the state criminal registry, state sex offender registry, state family care safety registry, and state child abuse and neglect registry in Missouri and each state where the candidate has lived in the past five years. See law.

Missouri Constitution Articles XIV § 1 & 2

Summary: Both medicinal and recreational marijuana use are legal in Missouri. Employers are prohibited from making employment decisions based on an individual testing positive for marijuana as a result of legal consumption outside work hours and outside the place of employment. There are exemptions for roles in which marijuana use endangers the safety of others or interferes with the individual’s ability to carry out the duties of their job. Employers may still discipline or terminate employees if drug testing shows they are under the influence of marijuana on the job. Federal regulations regarding cannabis testing may also apply in certain cases. See law.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Summary: Employers who partner with consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to perform background screenings are required to comply with the FCRA. Under this federal consumer protection law, any employer conducting background checks through a CRA must:

    • Provide the candidate with written disclosure of the intent to conduct a background check

    • Obtain the candidate’s consent in writing before initiating a background check

    • Follow the adverse action process if considering denying employment due to the results of a background check.

See law.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Summary: All employers, whether conducting background checks independently or working with a CRA, should comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces this federal law, which bans employment discrimination based on an individual’s race, sex, color, religion, or national origin.

Employers who consider criminal records in relation to employment are advised to conduct the EEOC’s “nature-time-nature” test. This includes considering the nature of the criminal offense, when it occurred, and whether it is pertinent to the job in question.

Local Missouri fair hiring laws

Missouri has several county and city fair hiring laws that may impact employment background screenings.

    • Jackson County:  A Ban the Box law prohibits county employers from including criminal history inquiries on initial job applications.

    • St. Louis County: A Ban the Box law prohibits county employers from including criminal history inquiries on initial job applications.

    • City of St. Louis: A Ban the Box law applies to private employers with ten or more employees. Employers may not inquire about criminal history until a candidate is determined to be qualified for the position. Employers may not base employment or promotion decisions on an individual’s criminal history unless they can demonstrate its relevance to the job.

    • Kansas City: A Ban the Box law prohibits employers with six or more employees from inquiring about criminal history until a candidate is determined to be qualified and has been interviewed for the position. Employers are prohibited from basing employment or promotion decisions on an individual’s criminal history unless they can demonstrate its relevance to the job.

    • Columbia: A Ban the Box law prohibits private and public employers from inquiring about criminal history until a conditional offer of employment has been made. Employers may notify candidates in writing of specific offenses that may disqualify them from a job. Employers are encouraged to use the EEOC’s nature-time-nurture test and consider any evidence of rehabilitation.

How to get a Missouri background check

You can get some records for a Missouri background check online by searching or requesting public records, and other screenings may need to be ordered by mail or completed in person (such as drug testing at a certified lab). Working with a CRA, like Checkr, is generally more efficient and can deliver more comprehensive results than ordering and tracking every screening yourself.

Here’s how to perform a few common types of MO background checks.

A name-based state criminal records search can be performed by creating an account using the MACHS Name Search Portal. A candidate’s name and birthdate or Social Security number is needed to do this. However, a Missouri criminal records search using only a name and date of birth could unintentionally lead to viewing the wrong results if two or more people share a name and birthdate. MACHS classifies the results of any Personal Identifier Search as a “possible match,” because of the possibility for such errors.

To ensure they are viewing the correct records, employers may wish to conduct a fingerprint-based search of Missouri criminal records. Missouri law requires fingerprint criminal records searches for some positions. Employers can initiate fingerprint-based Missouri state criminal records searches and request fingerprint-based national FBI criminal records searches at the MACHS site. This type of search requires the individual to provide fingerprints in person to the state.

A candidate’s driver record can be requested by email, mail, or fax by submitting a completed Form 1745 and paying the fee to the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles. The Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) restricts the release of driving records; employers need a DPPA security access code to set up a MyDMV account and search driver records online.

Although it’s possible to handle a Missouri background check yourself, it can be time-consuming, costly, and challenging. Your human resources team must spend time scheduling drug tests, calling a candidate’s professional references and educational institutions, and communicating with candidates to keep them informed and engaged. Fees for records requests can quickly add up, and human error may deliver inaccurate results. 

Working with a CRA to perform employment background checks can save human resources teams time, reduce costs, and increase efficiency for faster hiring. Qualified CRAs can rapidly access records and return accurate results while supporting compliance requirements.

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How employers in Missouri can maintain compliance

Employers can maintain compliance when conducting a state of Missouri background check by creating a company background screening policy, keeping up with relevant laws and regulations, and partnering with a qualified CRA.

A written background check policy helps ensure consistency by providing a standardized guide that anyone involved in your organization’s background screening process can use. Your background screening policy should establish the purpose and scope of background checks at your organization, how you’ll conduct them, and how you’ll evaluate and adjudicate results.

Industry organizations, publications for human resources professionals, and your organization’s legal counsel can provide guidance on federal, state, and local laws affecting employment background screenings, and can help keep you abreast of proposed legislation. Revisit your background check policy regularly, including when your organization expands to new locations or new types of hires. Make any necessary updates to account for changes to the laws and regulations affecting your organization.

Keeping up with legal requirements related to background checks can be challenging, thanks to the nation’s patchwork of constantly evolving laws. Although employers are ultimately responsible for compliance, partnering with an PBSA-accredited, experienced background check provider can ease the burden. For example, Checkr offers built-in tools to support compliance and align your background screenings with your company policies as well as federal, state, and local laws. Intuitive reporting filters and adjudication tools help streamline compliance and accelerate hiring. 

How long does a background check take in Missouri?

Background checks can take a few minutes to a few days or weeks to complete. Turnaround times for a state of Missouri employment background check may vary depending on the scope and type of screenings, and who is conducting the check (an in-house team or a CRA).  For example, criminal background checks in Missouri that are submitted through the MACHS Name Search Portal take two business days on average. However, many MACHS name searches return results instantaneously, while searches requiring MACHS personnel to get involved can take up to seven business days. A fingerprint-based Missouri criminal background check typically returns results in seven to ten business days, but if you send in your request by mail, results take between four and six weeks.

Background checks may also return results that require additional searches. For instance, if your name-based criminal records search turns up arrest records for several people with the same name and birth date, you might need to conduct a fingerprint-based criminal records search to ensure you have the correct records.

Doing your own Missouri background checks can be time-consuming. You may have to fill out forms and submit paperwork to various Missouri government agencies or drive to county courthouses in person to access records not searchable online. You’ll also need to ensure your searches aren’t running afoul of any federal, state, or local background check laws.

Improve the efficiency and accuracy of your background screening process by partnering with a qualified CRA to handle it. CRAs often have access to databases, proprietary technology, and court runners, enabling rapid return of search results. For instance, Checkr completes 84% of reports in under 15 minutes, and uses machine learning to estimate turnaround times and keep employers and candidates apprised. Candidates enjoy visibility into the progress of their background screenings via Checkr’s candidate portal.

How far back do background checks go in Missouri?

How far back a Missouri employment background check can go depends on the kind of background check and whether the employer partners with a CRA or performs the background screening in-house. There are no Missouri laws limiting how far back a criminal background check can go; convictions can be reported indefinitely. Missouri does not limit the use of credit history in employment, either.

However, employers working with CRAs should understand that the FCRA limits aspects of a Missouri background check to seven years of history. Under the FCRA, CRAs may not report any non-conviction information older than seven years. Arrests, civil judgments, tax liens, and most information on a candidate’s credit report are included in the seven-year lookback period. However, bankruptcy may be reported for up to ten years, and criminal convictions may be reported indefinitely. Positions with salaries of $75,000 or more may not be restricted by these lookback rules; consult your legal counsel to be sure.

How much does a Missouri background check cost?

How much a Missouri background check costs depends on the type and scope of screening and how the background check is performed. For example, a fingerprint-based criminal background check generally costs more than a name-based one. A background check that includes drug testing costs more than one that does not. Costs also vary depending on whether you perform the searches yourself or enlist a CRA.

When performing a Missouri background check for employment yourself, you may need to pay the following fees.

    • A name-based Missouri criminal records search costs $15 per search.

    • A fingerprint-based state criminal background check costs $28.50 per candidate.

    • A fingerprint-based state and federal criminal background check costs $41.75 per candidate.

    • A driver record search costs $2.82 per record.

Partnering with a CRA to conduct your background screenings can help lower your costs while allowing you to conduct comprehensive background checks more efficiently. Most CRAs offer packages combining common employment background screenings for a set fee, making screening costs more predictable. Checkr’s background check packages are customizable to suit the screening needs of any size business, and volume discounts may be available for employers conducting a high volume of background checks annually.

Get a Missouri background check from Checkr

Compliance with Missouri employment background check laws can be complex. Consider lightening your administrative load by partnering with a qualified CRA like Checkr. Checkr’s proprietary data network and advanced technology help deliver faster, more accurate background check results, while our modern platform streamlines workflows. Built-in compliance tools help support compliance with applicable Missouri background check laws, as well as federal laws. Checkr provides a wide range of background screening options to meet your needs and scale your hiring. Get started 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

Karen Axelton writes about business topics and best practices. She has written hundreds of articles on business subjects, including background screening, hiring and employment trends, human resource management, and the use of technology in the workplace. Her work includes educational articles, e-books, white papers, and case studies.

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