4 Tips for Contingent Workforce Background Screening

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Since 2009, the number of temporary employees in the workforce has increased by 29 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. At the same time, the number of private jobs grew by less than one percent.

The findings of HireRight’s 2011 Employment Screening Benchmarking Report also show an increase in temporary or contingent workers. This year, 76 percent of surveyed respondents reported that they use contingent labor, up from 66 percent of employers in 2010.

Unfortunately, the Report also revealed several significant gaps in background screening for temporary workers. Only 48 percent of survey respondents that use contingent workers said that they conduct background checks on the workers. That means that more than half of contingent workers are hired without screening for criminal history, identity, education and more. This poses a significant risk to many employers.

Drug and alcohol testing for this group was also low, with only 22 percent of employers conducting drug testing for contract workers and only 7 percent of organizations using on-going drug testing for non-employees. Studies have shown that drug and alcohol usage increases the risk of workplace accidents absenteeism, and reduces productivity.

Temp workforce background checks

Source: 2011 HireRight Employment Screening Benchmarking Report

Finally, the findings from the Report also show that employment screening requirements for temporary workers are not as thorough as the requirements for the long-term workforce. Employers perform criminal checks, identity verification, and employment verification less often on temporary workers than on regular employees.

It only takes one individual to put a company’s customers and staff at risk and damage its brand reputation. That individual could easily be a temporary worker.

With increasing numbers of temporary workers joining the workforce, it is recommended that employers develop their employment background screening programs to better mitigate hiring risks associated with temporary workers.

Below are a few best practices for conducting more effective extended workforce screening.

1. Outline a Policy
Organizations should try to align contingent worker screening with existing employee screening, running the same background checks and verifications for both sets of workers. While developing a temporary worker screening policy, be sure that the verbiage of your policy refers to contract workers as such to reduce the risk of employment claims.

2. Consider Vendors
Many organizations rely on third-party vendors to hire contract workers in their facilities. For example, a hospital may use a third-party company to staff its catering division. An organization can either manage background screening for vendor-sourced workers themselves or allow the vendors to manage screening.

If an organization does decide to allow the vendor to perform the background screening, it should notify vendors of the updated temporary worker policy that outlines background screening requirements and provide them time to comply. The organization should also include the updated extended workforce screening policy in vendor agreements, require vendors to meet its background screening policy standards, and provide proof that standards have been met.

3. Streamline
Perhaps only 48 percent of employers conduct background screens on temporary workers because of the perceived time and cost burden. However, upgrading to an automated employment screening solution can help employers avoid the headaches of adding a new screening policy to its program.

A trusted employment background screening vendor can combine your employee and non-employee screening programs into one automated system. An automated solution makes it much easier and cost effective to screen temporary workers by reducing the burden on administrators, vendors and the workers themselves.

4. Enforce the Policy
Educate human resources personnel on the importance of the new temporary worker background screening policy and the risks of not enforcing it. Do not issue temporary workers access to your facilities or to any sensitive information until they have passed their background checks. Finally, use internal audits across employee and non-employee programs to be sure your organization’s background screening practices meet your outlined policies.

Does your organization plan on hiring more temporary workers in the coming months? What kinds of policies do you have in place for screening those workers?

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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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