COVID-19 has changed the workplace landscapes in more ways than one. Amongst many things, background check screening in 2021 is going to look vastly different than it did in 2019. Employers are having to use alternative procedures like remote drug testing and conditional offers when bringing on new employees.
Employers looking to do their due diligence when hiring, are thinking outside of the “traditional” full background check.
When courthouses closed in 2020, the ability to verify a candidate’s background became incredibly difficult. Without access to criminal and education records, those hiring essential workers through the pandemic are facing unprecedented roadblocks.
Since then, access to physical court records has been easier to manage despite regional closures and reductions in hours of operations. However, this just emphasizes how limited access to digital public record information currently is. Yet it is critical and necessary for emergencies like these.
Regardless, we will continue to see a delay in the hiring process to some degree. Therefore, employers should look at their current procedures and consider modifying their workflows to allow for longer verification processing times.
Similarly, drug testing slowed as medical labs prioritized COVID-19 testing, which caused further delays on results for employers. People are also hesitant to visit a drug test facility that also tests for COVID out of fear.
With this, we are seeing a rise in at-home-testing kits in which applicants are receiving kits directly and sending back for testing. Some options even included:
Although this was met with some resistance and poses some chance for error, it has been a useful alternative.
There has been an increase in contingent offers as a workaround to the delays brought on by the pandemic. Contingent offers allow employers to hire employees contingent on the results of their background check results coming in at a later date.
It is important that any organization using contingent offers, make the terms clear in their offer letters. Language should be included that specifically states that the offer of employment is conditioned upon the return of a successful background check- which may arrive after the start date.
Employers should focus their efforts on information that is relevant to the position and company they are hiring for. Even before the pandemic, false positive or negative results were common with background checks that caused delays even then.
Because of this, background checks should be intentional to maximize their effectiveness. Ideally, organizations should carry policies that detail how and what information is used for employment-related decisions. The records they are searching should be relevant to the job they are hiring for as opposed to eliminating any applicant for anything on their record.
Continuous background check screening occurs when employers regularly review employee records on a recurring basis. As employers continue to maintain a remote workforce, many have chosen to use continuous screening to keep tabs on the employees that can’t physically check in anymore.
Although these periodic checks allow employers to monitor criminal activity, there are still potential limitations and compliance obligations that come with them including:
If an organizations decides to take this route, it is highly encouraged to speak with a trusted partner or professional to ensure compliance is met during these regular screenings.
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This article provides general information and shouldn’t be construed as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws may change over time and can vary by location and industry, please consult a lawyer or HR expert for advice specific to your business. You can also contact Payroll Systems to inquire about our HR support services.