Chances are you’ve already taken your kiddos for their annual Christmas picture with the local Santa for hire at your nearest mall. And chances are, it went relatively smoothly, save for a queue, maybe some tears, and an unattainable gift wish proclaimed to good ole Saint Nick. Nothing a Santa Claus for hire hasn’t seen or heard before, and usually, nothing he can’t handle.
But not every Santa is a jolly, good soul. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell which man in the red suit is good and who may be on the naughty list.
Pass a Background Check
One way to combat this situation, and better protect our children from predators in the process, is to encourage the use of a background check on every local Santa for hire. Same goes for the Easter Bunny and any other seasonal, mythical beings with whom we so proudly want our children to pose.
A recent investigation into a Santa for hire in Missouri who is charged with first-degree statutory rape and first-degree sodomy involving a 7-year-old girl reminds of the critical importance of screening these seasonal employees. Since many Santas volunteer their time, however, background checks aren’t a regular occurrence.
What’s the Law?
There is no state or federal law requiring criminal background checks for the local Santa for hire. This article says that, “Many businesses conduct background checks on prospective employees. Some companies that employ Santa Claus conduct background checks, too. WorldWide Photography, which provides Santa photos at over 300 locations and 48 states nationwide, require each Santa to pass a national sex offender and criminal background check, according to its website.”
Some Santa “schools” make learning about background checks part of their curriculum. School 4 Santas includes courses that explain the ins and outs of background checks and liability insurance, two items usually required by employers. (All Santa Claus personnel must have background checks and liability insurance to be part of the RealSantas.com database, a listing used by employers searching for a Saint Nick that is run by the founder of School 4 Santas.)
At this point, it’s still up to the hiring group’s discretion whether they require a background check of Santa before bringing him into their fold.
Why Santa Should Be Screened
Every Santa for hire should have a background check performed on them for multiple reasons:
- He could be a sexual predator and/or offender
- He could have a non-sexual criminal history
- He could have stolen another person’s identity
- He could be an addict
Parents should definitely take the time to learn about their local Santa before heading to the mall for a Christmas pic. You have every right to call ahead and ask the mall about its hiring and screening policies for Santa. In some cases, they may even give you the Santa’s name and you can run your own sex offender search through your local police department database (most law enforcement agencies have a feature on their website that shows where registered sex offenders are living).
As for employers, we know how difficult it can be to find the right guy to play Santa Claus. The personality, the costume, the hygiene, the laugh – oh, that laugh!!
Here’s some tips for you to incorporate any time you have to hire Santa or any seasonal worker for that matter.
• Create a screening policy with a comprehensive check for all employees.
• Validate information provided by candidates.
• Be positive your newly hired employees have the appropriate background.
• Consult professional background screeners.
• Re-Verify results: check and recheck to make sure you have the most updated and accurate information.
• Stay informed on current laws and regulations you may be obligated to follow.
• Perform personal assessments of all candidates.
Santa has a reputation to maintain this Christmas. So do you.
For more information on our customized solutions or helpful resources please visit Active Screening – Staffing Solutions.