Background checks more important than ever

Kathy Krey

Although hiring has slowed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses are beginning to look at what the new normal will mean in terms of recruiting and retaining top employees. Background screening plays a major role in supporting businesses that’ve worked diligently to offer quality goods and services and developed superior reputations. Screening candidates and employees also helps in defending negligent hiring claims.

All 50 states have issued guidelines for reopening, and many workplaces are beginning to cautiously follow those recommendations.  Differing orders by states, counties and individual communities have left businesses looking at background screening in various ways to ensure their employees maintained desired behaviors during the shutdown.

Background screening will likely look a bit different going forward as many current and new hire employees have been given the option to work from home. It will be important to monitor all employees moving forward. Regulatory changes affect many essential businesses, including health care and financial organizations that face legal requirements not only to screen employees, but also meet specific guidelines set forth within their industries. Colorado businesses working with at-risk adults must complete the Colorado Adult Protective Services unit check on all employees upon hire and when not working for more than 30 days.

Fair Credit Reporting Act regulations have not seen recent changes. But within this industry, there’s been discussion about making employers continue to protect their employees, property and customers.  In several webinars, the topic of negligent hiring has come to the forefront. An employee’s future actions are, to some extent, predictable by past behaviors. But as businesses face growing “ban the box” initiatives, it will become more important to have a system to continuously update the ongoing illegal behaviors of all employees as well as the status of their professional licenses.

When employers participate in second chance programs in which they hire individuals with some level of criminal history and allow them to re-enter the work environment, continuous monitoring of criminal actions offers some peace of mind.

The technology used to continuously monitor these behaviors as well as professional licenses offers the most promising source of defending due diligence and negligent hiring claims as well as helps mitigate the risk of insider threats.

The Society for Human Resource Management recently put it this way: “Most companies screen for red flags in their employees’ work, legal or financial history once, before they come on board on day one. The problem is that those checks represent a moment in time. If an employee commits a crime, has a license revoked or loses work authorization after being hired, the employer may never find out.”

New technology offers nationwide screening — including 48 states and more than 2,800 incarceration facilities, covering more than 85 percent of all incarcerations. Data updates, at a minimum, once every hour. If there’s an alert on one of your employees, you’ll be notified in near real-time. Once the information is entered in the system, an employer needs only to update the roster monthly for any new hires or terminated employees.

A significant number of employers also require re-screening when a change of employment status occurs — such as a promotion, change of duties or transfer to another department. If a financial analyst acquires additional duties requiring access to banking information for individuals, the employer should perform a new background screening, including a credit check.

In choosing a background screening partner, it’s important to consider several different traits, including tailored customer services and a dedicated associate for your company with the ability to customize packages that meet your needs. In addition, researching reviews on such matters as cost, response times and live representatives is paramount. Basically, you must work with an organization you not only trust with delicate and confidential information, but also one that understands your specific industry and cares about your needs.

Regardless of your industry or the size of your organization, background screening constitutes money well spent to meet the obligations of a sensible and judicious employer. Meeting the requirements for safe work environments and protecting the products and integrity of the company only increases the value of what you offer to your shareholders, sponsors and the community at large.