I just applied for a new job and one of the requirements is that I needed to take a background check. I have no problem with doing background checks, however they are going to make me pay for the background check out of my first paycheck if I am hired. Is this a normal practice?

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    Not writing a full answer because I haven’t moved around much, but I’ve never seen this. Seems pretty bush-league to me. Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 17:04
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    This needs a location tag, as it is a common practice (and legal) in a few countries. Also what sort of background check fee is it? A criminal check by a chance?
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 17:07
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    they are going to make me pay for the background check out of my first paycheck if I am hired No, that's not normal practice. Background checks are a business expense. What next? Will they send you the phone bill for the interview?
    – rath
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 17:20
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    I know my background. If you want to know my background you pay the fee.
    – amcdermott
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 17:25
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    @Bee I don't see any ethical dilemma there - that's like saying it'd be unethical to take a training course at one job and then use that knowledge at another. So long as you're not doing it with the intent to jump ship once you have what you want, there's no impropriety. Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 18:26

6 Answers 6


they are going to make me pay for the background check out of my first paycheck if I am hired. Is this a normal practice?

It's not common in my experience in the US.

I have never had to pay for a background check. Nor has any company where I have worked required new hires to reimburse the cost of background checks. But I've always worked in the software domain.

Seems like a very odd practice to me, but it may depend on the domain of the employer and the nature of the job.

That said, it's legal in most states. Check with your state's laws to see if yours is one of the few prohibiting that practice. I'm guessing that the company knows and is obeying the local laws.

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    It's normal in for example Poland for criminal checks. They offer to contact the office themselves, but then duct the fee from your 1st paycheck, or you can get the letter yourself, which costs the same price. Been through that with one of the largest polish physical security companies, and learned that many others do the very same.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 17:23
  • @TymoteuszPaul I guess the company provides you with the result of the background check and you can use it for your purposes Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 21:25
  • That sort of thing is frowned upon in the US, out of fear that the copy the citizen provides would be faked. Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 6:05
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    Careful: If you ask for a criminal check yourself, it may contain more information than for example your employer would get. You might get everything the police knows about you, while your employer would only get everything the police is allowed to tell third parties.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 9:26
  • Where I'm from, they have the PVG scheme for certain kinds of jobs (involving protected and vulnerable groups like children, elderly or disabled). While you generally pay for the record yourself, it lasts indefinitely and can be used for as many employers as you want.
    – user83084
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 15:28

Depends on the place you're working at. My expectation is that a very large company would be able to absorb the cost of the background/drug tests. On the flip side, a very small company, such as a small family owned shop, would need to pay for the background services and may ask employees to absorb the cost. It may also be indicative of a very high turn over position in combination of a very small company.


Since you only have to pay for it if you get the job you might as well not worry about it.

Whether it's normal or not, if you argue with the employer over this, you risk losing your chance at getting the job.

So what if you lose $100, or whatever it is, if in return you are getting a job which should hopefully pay you at least twice that per day.

As to if it's normal, I've heard of it several times. Some sectors even require that you pay for these kinds of things in advance of even applying for a job, so your case is much more preferable.

  • Hqve you considered that the jobs you heard this in regards to, were scam jobs? Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 6:16
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica how does the scam work if you arent paying anything?
    – Aequitas
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 7:48
  • I'm referring to your last paragraph where they do require advance payment. Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 16:34
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica ah no it’s an industry requirement even government jobs in this sector require them. Teaching is one example.
    – Aequitas
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 20:21

When companies require the candidate to travel to another city for an interview, the company sometimes / usually / always pays for the trip, accommodation to a hotel etc. The candidate only "pays" with his time to travel to the agreed place for the interview.

So, if the companies are expected to pay for transportation and for accommodation during the interviewing phase, why would it be normal for the candidate to pay for anything?

The rule is simple: you sell your work for money. So you are expected to receive money, not to give.

I would not give even half a thought about a company which cannot pay its own costs. Even if it is not a scam, it is not really desirable either.


In general, when someone claims to offer you a job, but asks you to pay to anyone to get the job, it’s a scam. Most likely the job doesn’t exist. Especially if they didn’t do any proper interviews, nothing where they invested time, then its 100% a scam.

If not a scam, it’s still so unusual that you would refuse to pay. And some people noted that you are supposed to pay out of your first pay check: Getting a check, making a payment, and then the check bounces, is a notoriously common scam.

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    out of my first paycheck..so they're not asking for it upfront. Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 17:12
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    The payment is to come from 1st paycheck, not paid by OP upfront.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 17:12
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    Guys, very clever. Paycheck. Look on money.stackexchange.com how you get scammed when you receive a check and are supposed to pay money.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 10:40
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    That's not how it works Gnasher. Your paycheck is simply reduced. While a bad practice, it's legitimate.
    – Therac
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 10:38
  • Except payroll messed up and sent you a checque for the full amount if it is a scam.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Dec 27, 2022 at 21:07

Someone I know fell for the following scam:

She was e-mailed by a company that offered her a tutoring side gig: they'd refer to her students looking for a math tutor, and she'd tutor them, and give the company a portion of her earnings.

After some brief discussions / interviews, the company asked her to pay them $70 upfront so they'd run a background check. She foolishly paid. In a few days, the company e-mailed, "congratulations, you passed the background check. Soon we'll be sending some students your way." They have not been heard from again.

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