What is the Difference Between a Level 1 and Level 2 Background Check?

A single bad hiring decision can severely impact your brand and business reputation. Approximately 30% of all information on resumes is somewhat exaggerated, and occupational fraud diminishes 5% of the average organization’s annual revenue. The significance of a background check cannot be overstated.

It is estimated that 96% of employers conduct background checks today. The purpose of background checks usually involves promoting a safe workplace and selecting hire-worthy candidates. 

An employer should take care to fulfill background screening requirements, which depend on the respective jurisdiction. Failure to observe these requirements can lead to severe penalties and lawsuits. 

What are background checks on levels 1 and 2? 

Florida statutes use the terms “level 1” and “level 2 background checks” to denote the method of the criminal record check and how much data is covered. They can also refer to specific disqualifying offenses if certain legislation is considered. 

Chapter 435 of the Florida statutes defines Level 1 and Level 2 background screenings, but not all its provisions are associated with them. 

Generally, level 1 refers to an employment history screening and a name-based check. Level 2 usually refers to a national and state fingerprint-based check and only applies to candidates designated by law as holding positions of trust and responsibility. 

Background Screenings 

Level 1 screening is a basic and general method. It checks criminal records, employment history, and more. Felony records or warrants disqualify individuals from level 1 checks.

Level 2 background screening dives deeper. It uses fingerprint-based records and county criminal record searches through law enforcement and local courts.

Employers conducting level 2 checks comply with FBI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and local court requirements. They may hire background check providers to ensure information integrity and security.

Level 2 background screening is crucial for jobs involving trust or responsibility. This includes positions working with children, the elderly, and vulnerable groups. Disqualifying offenses include kidnapping, manslaughter, and assault.

Only individuals working in Florida are subject to level 2 background screening.

Important considerations for employers 

It is very important for hiring managers to know how to analyze a background report. Companies need to be able to find reasonable grounds to disqualify a candidate without risking accusations of discrimination in the recruitment process.

One can search national as well as state criminal history databases for warrants, arrests, and other information. Neither database can be searched for specific offenses within an individual record. 

Pre-employment screening red flags

Pre-employment screening can give the employer an overview of credit, criminal, and driving history. Below are some potential red flags. 

Driving records

Truck drivers, delivery drivers, and other positions that involve driving come with the requirement to screen the candidate’s driving record. The background check provider will check the details using your driver’s license. They’ll make sure your license is current and look for a history of safe driving. Red flags commonly involve accidents and other incidents. It’s important to discuss these with your prospective employer, especially when it wasn’t your fault.

Reckless driving, drunk driving, and driving without a license are all red flags.

Credit report

A pre-employment background check can cover your credit history. Some jobs come with a great deal of financial responsibility. Financial institutions have insurance that doesn’t cover staff members with even minor issues on their credit reports. 

Employers will look for good financial habits if you have access to company funds. Credit reports include bankruptcy filings, but they don’t indicate the reason for the bankruptcy. There are quite a few valid reasons to file for bankruptcy, including emergencies, job loss, divorce, or overwhelming medical expenses. It’s always a good idea to explain your situation to your prospective employer. 

Employers can use your credit report to verify your personal information. Your credit rating is not affected by a credit check. Other red flags include felonies and misdemeanors, no matter how minor. 


Understanding the differences between Level 1 and Level 2 background checks is crucial for making informed hiring decisions. Level 1 background checks offer a basic screening, focusing on employment history and name-based checks. In contrast, Level 2 checks provide a deeper investigation, including fingerprint-based national and state records, and are essential for positions involving trust and responsibility.

Employers must navigate these screenings carefully to avoid legal pitfalls and ensure a safe workplace. Recognizing red flags in driving records and credit reports helps in identifying potential risks. By thoroughly analyzing background reports, companies can hire qualified candidates while maintaining a fair and non-discriminatory recruitment process. Ultimately, diligent background checks protect your business and uphold your brand’s integrity.