How Companies Can Ensure a Safe Work Environment Through The Next Phase of Covid-19

June 3rd, 2021

As the course of Covid-19 continues to evolve, so does its impact on the workplace. At the start of the pandemic, the gig economy experienced an immediate need for more people, both to meet the demand from consumers under lockdown who still need services, and to provide alternative sources of income for people who lost their jobs. Thanks to the gig workforce’s commitment to uninterrupted service, the sector has earned a new level of consumer trust.

Among consumers, there is an expectation that gig services are both safe and effective, with all the necessary precautions in place. During these uncertain times, companies must continue to maintain consumer confidence. In addition, they must also instill within their workers the trust that the company is operating both safely and securely, with the workforce’s health and overall best interest in mind.

So, for the foreseeable future, how do gig companies around the world successfully adapt to ensure both consumer and worker trust and safety? Thorough background screening, identity verification, and comprehensive active virus testing all play important roles in helping companies plan for an uncertain future.

Role of Background Screening

For any gig business, implementing a robust screening program is crucial to protecting its brand and reputation. While certain gig businesses may only have a proportionally small number of direct employees, those same companies often have a large number of workers as well as an enormous brand presence. The more workers, the greater potential for significant reputational and financial risks should someone slip through the cracks of a less-than-thorough screening process. In addition, as gig businesses continue to become increasingly international, it’s vital for a screening partner’s program to be tailored to support international hires, with access to court systems, criminal record systems, and other key records across the globe.

Identity Verification and Remote Hiring

Background screens rely on accurate candidate data. Verifying identity and confirming candidate information prior to conducting a check helps improve screening quality and sends a signal to candidates that they’re engaged with a modern and forward-thinking company.

Concerns around identity fraud have also become heightened as most companies continue to engage in remote hiring through the pandemic. For gig companies, hiring remotely is standard practice. However, heightened awareness around remote hiring has become a catalyst for gig companies to look more closely at their processes, particularly when it comes to identity verification.

In short, companies need to verify individuals are actually who they say they are. Many hiring managers assume that the typical background check includes identity verification — but, in fact, that’s most often not the case. With identity being such a fundamental component to background checks, identity verification should always be completed in the early stage of the hiring process.

With advancements in identity verification and technology, this is becoming easier. For example, mobile identity verification is increasingly common. Using just a smartphone, most candidates can complete identity verification in mere minutes. In addition, companies like provide tools to store digital identification credentials, which have the potential to allow people to work for multiple gig companies without needing to go through repeat background checks and identity verifications.

The broader expansion of identity services during the pandemic provides gig companies with more options when it comes to identity, especially as one of the biggest considerations for gig companies is ensuring that the individuals that they have onboarded continue to be the same people who use the platform to provide services. Identity monitoring in order to access the platform prevents users sharing their accounts with non-vetted workers. For example, the use of facial recognition each time the user opens the app is widely being adopted to reduce identity fraud in the gig economy. These advancements in our industry serve the dual purpose of creating trust and safety for consumers using gig economy services, while making things smoother and easier for gig economy companies and their workers.

Active Virus Testing and Vaccine Rollout

Covid-19 testing programs for companies should be tailored to fit their unique needs. Regular testing can be considered for anyone who interacts with customers, co-workers, partners, and the community. Frequency of testing can be determined by both the regularity of interaction, as well as the type of testing leveraged.

Organizations may also want to consider at-home testing kits, which provide the most mobility and flexibility. Testing kits can be distributed in bulk, which are self-administered at home and then sent to the lab overnight in a prelabeled envelope. Another benefit of at-home testing is that it minimizes the administrative burden on the organization.

While we don’t have all the answers regarding vaccine distribution, it’s important for trust and safety teams to consider and anticipate how the Covid-19 vaccine will impact–and be integrated into– Covid-19 testing programs. This may involve different sets of workers returning to work in stages, depending on when/if they took the vaccine, and, of course, it still involves enforcing public health measures including masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing, and active virus testing. It is also important to communicate accurate information about the vaccine to staff, and to ensure proper privacy protocols are followed throughout the entire process.

An effective health screening partner will remove the burden from the organization, guide them through these processes, address specific concerns, and communicate the necessary elements successfully — all with trust and safety being the number one priority.

Planning for an Uncertain Future

Gig economy companies and their HR departments are not in this alone. Companies can partner with vendors that have deep market expertise and agility to support evolving programs, including for Covid-19 testing and identity verification. As the gig economy continues to grow and evolve, its role in the broader economic landscape is as strong and fortified as ever. Now is the time to begin formulating a sustainable strategy and reinforce a safe workplace that values the well being of employees, partners, gig workers, customers, and the community.

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Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.

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