Your business conducts background checks on job applicants and employees. But what about the importance of screening your non-employee workforce (volunteers, consultants, independent contractors and vendors)? You could debate the fact they technically aren’t employees, thus view the process as unimportant. Don’t underestimate the value of doing so.
Employers who find out the hard way that unscreened workers, whether employees or not, can pay a hefty price. One that costs much more than a background check. Since the rules of due diligence hiring apply equally, the liability and damage to the employer can be equally bad regardless who’s payroll the worker is on.
Businesses can be liable if, in the exercise of reasonable care, the company could have foreseen a problem but did not do a thorough background check prior to on-boarding. Employers are held accountable by the courts for negligent actions of employees, especially when information was available that employees were unfit for their jobs before or after hiring. This is called negligent hiring, and applies to employees on a company’s payroll, or non-employees who work on company property, jobsites or projects. Further, serious legal ramifications can arise if you utilize the services of a contractor firm or vendor that does not screen its own employees.
Employers often ask if they must comply with the FCRA when conducting background checks on their non-employee workforce. The answer is easy. Just follow this basic rule:
If your company uses a 3rd party background screening provider (such as IntelliCorp) to gather information (that meets the definition of a consumer report) about an employee potential volunteer, consultant or vendor, the FCRA applies.
The FCRA does not specifically address or define non-employees, but it does specify that you must have a permissible purpose prior to requesting a Consumer Report. Therefore, it’s important to understand your company’s obligations under the FCRA and review compliance for all employment purposes, including initial background checks of applicants, current employees, and screening of volunteers, independent contractors or other workers on your premises.
Your primary concern should be the safety of your business and customers. If you lack a non-employee screening program, you are potentially exposing your company to a variety of different risks; financial settlements, bad publicity, and, in the worst case violence. Don’t take short cuts. Implement a formal screening program for your non-employee workforce to help protect your organization and mitigate risk.