Any worker hired on a temporary basis by a health care organization is known as a contingent worker or non-employee. Contingent workers can be directly hired by an organization’s human resources department or indirectly employed through a third-party vendor such as a staffing agency.
Non-employees comprise a large percentage of a health care organization’s workforce as medical providers, administrators, food services workers, janitors, and security officers. While it is a common best practice for health care organizations to background screen all employees, sometimes organizations find it difficult to apply the same employment screening program across contingent workers as well.
Below are four main challenges that make it difficult for health care organizations to screen contingent workers and suggestions for how to overcome each challenge.
Challenge # 1: Limited resources
In addition to background screening all employees, health care organizations may find they don’t have the personnel, budget or time to also screen contingent workers. The process becomes further complicated when temporary workers are hired through multiple third-party vendors.
Suggested Solution: Do not hesitate to place the burden of contingent worker screening on vendors. First create a background screening policy that stipulates the required scope and frequency of screening for all workers. Then contractually mandate that vendors apply the screening policy when placing workers in your organization.
Challenge # 2: Unclear employment status
A health care organization does not want to assume the role of employer for contingent workers. When organizations hire contingent workers, they risk entering a gray area where these workers might assume that they have the same status and rights as employees.
Suggested Solution: Across all of your hiring and employment screening processes make sure that contingent workers are treated separately. Whether the contingent worker is hired through human resources or a vendor, be sure that their non-employment status is clearly stated at every stage of the person’s engagement. From pre-employment screening, to follow-up screening, issuing of badges, facility access, and even payment, their non-employee status should be clear.
Challenge #3: Trouble mandating consistent vendor screening
It is difficult to get vendors to add background screening components to their other services. Most health care organizations deal with multiple vendors for their contract hiring needs and it can be difficult to get the same apples-to-apples screening services across all of these third-parties.
Suggested Solution: During vendor selection, make screening a requirement. Develop a screening policy and amend all vendor contracts to mandate screening based on that policy. In the contract be sure to clearly identify screening program metrics, an audit schedule, and penalties when vendors do not meet the screening policy requirements.
Challenge #4: Difficulty initiating a screening process
With hundreds of different types of vendors and contingent workers it can be difficult to know where and how to implement a screening process.
Suggested Solution: There is no need to roll out a screening process across all vendors and contingent workers at once. It is usually best to start with the largest segment of contingent workers or with the vendor your organization has the longest relationship with. By initially testing the screening process in one group or with one vendor, organizations can go back and make any necessary improvements to the process before rolling it out to more areas.
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