How often do employers check employment data

Background checks: How often is salary / income information for IT candidates collected and actually accessed?

For the past several years I've worked as a programmer for a retailer in Massachusetts. This was a long term contract role by a recruiting company. The recruiting company paid me to be a sole trader (so it's like a corp-to-corp contract).

I recently applied for another company and received a formal offer from them, which depends on passing the background checks. The new job pays less than my actual contract rate, but has benefits (like health insurance that is slightly cheaper than what I could get from Mass Health Connector), vacation and sick leave.

My new employer uses a third party company for the background checks. This third party sent me a link to a website asking me to provide information about my previous employers, education, etc.

I have no concerns about them checking my background, but I was curious why the background checking company asked me to provide copies of my pay slips and W2 "to prove employment information in my current job".

I asked them if they would accept a letter of recommendation from my current manager as that would have the employment dates. They replied that acceptable forms of documentation include W2, 1099, and the final payroll.

As a side note, I told my new employer the hourly rate of my current job (it corresponds to the typical market rate) during my first interview. The new employer has already told me how much he would be willing to pay me a salary.

If the purpose of this third party is really just to "prove the employment details" then why do they insist on pay-related documents?

And can't they get my salary information from the recruiter? Or is that something that recruitment companies may not give out?

(I mean, it's not like applying for a loan anywhere, and the new job doesn't require permits or a financial institution. The new employer said the background check will take less than a week doesn't look like like they're going through a lot of things.)

Jane S ♦

It sounds like a political thing to me. The work history is usually confirmed with a reference check. I have never heard of pay slips as a requirement for proof of employment. Background checks are usually limited to police and financial checks. You can do that without your payroll.


They said they were checking your employment information. If you want, you can edit the copies you sent and remove sensitive information such as financial amounts or bank account numbers.

Jan Doggen

@Brandin Please make this an answer

Dave Johnson

How do either a W2 or a 1099 prove employment data? They only show amounts, not dates. You could easily get a single payment of $ 100,000 for a single week of work, and it would look the same as if you received $ 50,000 of $ 2,000 for a week of work.

Esoteric screen name

Have they already told you what they are going to pay you - via a formal written offer? Could be a trick to avoid getting "too much" of a bump. Yes I am very cynical, but I live in a county where this is common.


You are rightly suspicious of such data collection and I would recommend not cooperating with such requests. Alternatively, you can scan the documents and then remove ("edit") the sensitive data (social security number and salary amounts) or make a copy on a photocopier and darken it with a marker and then copy / scan again.

If the question of salary has already been resolved, it is irrelevant that the employer knows your old salary. However, it is a good idea to never give your earnings information to a potential employer.


I worked for one of those places that does the background screening.

The screening company is trying to check the month / year you worked for the recruiting company. As a general guideline, only W-2/1099 / paystub etc are accepted as these were issued to you directly by Human Resources. The screening company may attempt to validate your paystub information against other employer's payrolls. From a liability standpoint, the review firm believes payroll documentation is safer to be accepted by an applicant than other non-payroll related documents, such as letters of recommendation from a former manager, as the former manager does not know whether that manager actually knows this information exactly or has worked at all does the company at all.

Unless your prospect specifically asks you to provide salary information for review, the salary information is irrelevant and you can probably just edit it from within the document before submitting it. Either way, you should reach out to your new employer and ask them what they need here as they are the end user of the screening report.