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August 14th, 2015 | Sterling

5 Gaps In Your Screening Policy


At the heart of every good background screening program you should find a thorough and all-encompassing policy. Your policy is what forms the foundation of your screening program as every background check you conduct will be based on it. Although 48% of employers claim to have a fully documented background screening policy, many organizations have considerable gaps that provide a window of opportunity for unscrupulous job seekers.

Your background screening policy should define which employees are screened, how they are screened, and the process for factoring background check results into the hiring decision. While most organizations have adopted screening policies that cover the basics, many neglect to consider these five common gaps:

    Fewer than one half of employers screen their extended workforce, which means that the other half leave themselves unnecessarily exposed to risk. The extended workforce is comprised of contingent, contract, and temporary workers, many of whom have some level of access to your company’s information, technology or customer assets. If you think that’s bad, it actually gets worse. Less than one quarter of organizations screen volunteers and unpaid workers. Ensure that your screening policy covers all types of workers from full-time salaried employees to temps, interns and volunteers.

    Employers are more likely to screen entry-level employees than senior executives, but which person could do more damage to the company’s assets, brand, and reputation? Organizations who give the C-level a pass on the most thorough background checks leave a glaring gap in their policy that could have catastrophic consequences. Several CEO’s of some of America’s largest companies have been caught lying about their qualifications or fudging their résumés. It is equally, if not more important to thoroughly screen all C-level and senior executive hires.

    44% of employers review the screening results for workers who are hired by a staffing agency. Of the remaining employers, 35% stipulate compliance in the staffing agency’s contract terms and 8% conduct periodic audits. What is most concerning however, is that 13% of HR professionals are unaware of whether or not the staffing agencies they work with even perform background checks. This is absolutely one area where employers must not drop the ball. Every employee should be thoroughly screened regardless of whether they were hired directly by HR or through a staffing agency. The optimal solution is for employers to run their own background checks on any workers supplied by a staffing agency. If an employer opts to review the screening results instead of conducting their own thorough and up-to-date check, then they should first check that the staffing agency is permitted to share the results by both the Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) and the candidate. Secondly, even if the employer is only reviewing previously completed background checks, they may be subject to the FCRA, so we recommend you consult with counsel before viewing such reports.

    Approximately two thirds of organizations fail to conduct any sort of post-hire screening or employee monitoring. Just because an employee had a clean criminal history when they were hired, doesn’t mean that it will always stay that way. A criminal record check depicts a moment in time and becomes outdated almost instantly. The solution to closing this gap is either through post-hire screening, which can be conducted at specified intervals (i.e. annual re-checks) or employee monitoring, which alerts employers when one of their employees has been arrested.

    Less than one fifth of employers revised their criminal record screening policy in 2014, despite the numerous legislative changes that occurred. If you take only one thing away, let it be regular review of your screening policy. Have a documented process for reviewing your policy to account for any legislative changes, industry best-practices or new technology that will improve the efficiency of screening. Follow a pre-determined schedule, such as an annual review, and involve all key stakeholders to help identify areas that need improvement or updating. Be sure to consult legal counsel as part of the review to ensure local compliance regulations are clearly accounted for.

If you are involved in creating or contributing to your organization’s background screening policy, grab a coffee, get comfortable and take some time (46 minutes to be exact) to watch SterlingBackcheck’s on-demand webinar Background Screening Policy 101.

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.