Are temporary staff putting you at risk?

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Temporary workforce remains a weakness in the screening program for many employers

Temporary workers may fuel much of the predicted recruitment growth for 2013 as employers remain under pressure to keep short-term costs down. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) JobsOutlook reports that 88% of UK employers plan to increase or maintain their temporary staff headcount in 2013.

Outsourcing services or scaling up your workforce with temporary staff can bring many benefits e.g. the ability for quick deployment and the flexibility to meet seasonal peaks in the business cycles whilst keeping short-term costs low. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks too. Without the commitment of a permanent contract the employee can lack the loyalty to customer and company that a permanent employee would have. Furthermore, frequent failure to undertake appropriate background screening on this section of the workforce can leave companies vulnerable to employee fraud risks, theft and data security breaches.

There is potentially a long list of people who may have access to a company’s premises, assets and sensitive information that have not undergone the same screening as direct permanent employees – the night-cleaning crew who are managed by external facility departments, the temporary receptionist, the contract software engineers, outsourced services (e.g. call centres) and seasonal hires.

The risk of allowing unscreened personnel access to an organisation’s facilities, staff and data is significant.  A report by CIFAS and the CIPD (Staff Fraud and Dishonesty, June 2012) found incidents of staff fraud have increased by over 40% in the last three years, and the latest KPMG Fraud Barometer reports that fraud perpetrated by either management or employees accounted for 80% of the financial loss through fraud experienced by UK businesses in 2012.[1]

Staff fraud cases within banking services rose by 20% in 2011, including fraudulent account transfers, unlawful disclosure of personal data and manipulation of a personal account.[2] This kind of activity could easily have been perpetrated by outsourced call centre staff who have access to customers’ personal information yet may not be screened to the same level as head office staff.

As a lack of screening is a known hole in many companies’ security policies, temporary roles can often be targeted by fraudsters as a chance to slip into an organisation unnoticed and unrestricted. Recruitment agencies often conduct their own background checks on a candidate – however, if a company does not control how comprehensive or accurate the information they are collating is, there could be a significant difference when compared to the procedures which are followed for permanent staff, the gap between the two could leave a company in the same situation as if there were no vetting procedures in place.

With internal fraud on the increase across a number of industries, ensuring that a comprehensive screening policy is in place, which covers the entire workforce, will mean that a company can minimise the risks involved in recruitment.

HireRight’s checklist for screening contract or temporary staff

  • Recognise that for a background screening policy to be an effective risk management tool it should be extended to ALL employees regardless of contract type. Otherwise you leave gaps that fraudsters can exploit.
  • Extend your requirements to recruitment agencies working on your behalf, and to firms delivering your outsourced services.
  • Recognise peak times you will need additional staff (e.g. pre-Christmas retail staff) and plan your hiring and background screening well in advance to avoid having to rush candidates through the process. When you are under time pressure the temptation is to skip vital stages.
  • Consider linking background screening process to building or system access – no badge or passwords issued until a background screen has been completed.
  • Use a background screening criteria that is appropriate to the risk profile of the role being filled.


[1] KPMG Fraud Barometer. News release  21/1/13

[2] Staff Fraudscape – Depicting the UK’s staff fraud landscape


The HireRight Blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any statutes or laws cited in this article should be read in their entirety. If you or your customers have questions concerning compliance and obligations under United States or International laws or regulations, we suggest that you address these directly with your legal department or outside counsel.

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