Don’t Ignore Background Screening Your Contingent Workers

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As organizations slowly emerge from the remaining impact of the global recession, many are tackling a simultaneous need to grow their workforce to address growing demand, while still remaining cost-conscious.

Furthermore, a number of organizations are still smarting from the lingering pain of the last few years, and as a result, may be tentative about taking on long-term responsibilities, like permanent employees that they may have to let go down the road if the economic recovery falters.

Therefore, many employers are looking to address their immediate staffing needs while avoiding long-term commitments by turning to more flexible sources of labor. Contingent workers–like freelancers, contractors, temporary workers, and interns—are eagerly sought out by organizations today.

In fact, according to HireRight’s 2013 Employment Screening Benchmarking Report, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of employers are using contingent workers at some level within their organization.


Source: HireRight 2013 Employment Screening Benchmarking Report

Despite this trend, however, nearly a third (32 percent) of organizations are not performing background checks on these workers, according to the same HireRight report.

This is especially alarming considering that contingent workers typically have access to your facilities, data, and other employees.

Moreover, these workers are sometimes performing important responsibilities and interacting with your customers, meaning they’re essentially ambassadors of your brand.

In this context, it can be frightening to think that they’ve never been screening for criminal history, drug use, basic qualifications, or other information about which you as an employer should know.

Why Are Employers Overlooking the Background Screening of Contingent Workers?

So, given the prevalence of contingent workers, why are organizations not performing background checks on them? The rationale could be varied. Some employers may not consider it their responsibility to screen such a worker, instead falling to the company that placed the talent, like a staffing agency.

Similarly, an employer could assume that a proper background check has already been performed by the placing entity. But what if that organization only performed a basic check, one that doesn’t meet your internal standards? Or even worse, what if no check were performed at all?

Employers can effectively bolster the strength of their employment screening programs by including their contingent workforce in their background checking efforts. You can demand that any source of indirect labor be subject to the same rigor as permanent employees at similar levels.

To make this easier, some screening providers offer solutions to integrate screening of both populations into a single system, keeping them discrete but offering a holistic view into your overall effort.

Similarly, if you are using outside vendors that provide people with access to your offices, information, or employees (like a consulting firm or staffing agency), you can require that these vendors perform a background check that meets your internal standards.

Such a requirement can be codified in a contract and provide you with a level of comfort in your relationship. Furthermore, there are screening solutions available on the market that actually allow you, as the client, to see the results of these background checks, so that you can be sure the screen was performed to your specific criteria.

By background screening your contingent workers, you can help mitigate unnecessary risks within your organization and bringing an additional layer of sophistication to your employment screening program.

Free Report: HireRight 2014 Employment Screening Benchmarking Report
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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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