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Behind the News: Take Background Checks SeriouslyCWS 30 August 2.15

CWS 30


How seriously do you take your background checks? Your attitude could make the difference in getting a thoroughly scrutinized recruit as opposed to a contingent worker who is not screened. A recent survey by Staffing Industry Analysts revealed that half of the staffing firms polled take criminal background checks seriously only if the customer does.

In fact, of the 611 staffing firms surveyed, only about 30 percent responded affirmatively to all three of the following:

  • They always do criminal background checks,
  • They are very confident of the background check service they use, and
  • They go out of their way to make sure such checks are thorough regardless of whether asked to do so by the client

This means that 70 percent of the time, there is potential for a given temporary staffing candidate to not have been adequately screened for a criminal background. It's important to remember that contingents mingle with regular staff, so it doesn't matter how long the assignment is expected to last. Contingents need to be screened as methodically as traditional employees. This becomes more important as companies increasingly use contingent work as a means to try employees out.

Popular media has outlined the pitfalls of temporary worker thefts and office violence. Media hype notwithstanding, background checks are a great way to weed out undesirable candidates. Statistics have it that eight percent is the minimum criminal record hit rate expected from a background checking firm. When companies look to staffing providers to fulfill their contingent worker requests, their need is always almost immediate. The urgency sometimes results in background checks falling by the wayside.

So before getting a contingent worker on board, make sure that your staffing supplier has conducted that check. It starts off with the customer communicating that piece of information to the relevant supplier as staffing firms typically see background checks as their responsibility. Make no assumptions, but let the staffing firm know that you would like these tests done upfront. You can go further by providing your partners with a written policy regarding expectations for background checks for contingents; ideally, RFPs and contracts will spell out those expectations. Some companies insist on receiving copies of all test results.

Further, there are those contingent workforce program managers that recommend auditing the background checking procedures of suppliers so that if a problem arises, the company can demonstrate due diligence.

Of course, background checks aren't free -- the cost has to be built into supplier pricing -- but aren't they worth it? Be sure to comply with federal and state laws which our employment law column discusses in CWS magazine, May-June 2009.

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