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March 27, 2012

Pre-Employment Screening: Who Is Slipping Through the Cracks?

Hopefully, if most companies were asked “Do you screen job candidates by doing a background check?” the answer would be “Yes”.

In 2011, over 90% of companies did some sort of pre-employment screening before hiring an applicant. Pre-employment screening can be anything from criminal checks, assessment testing, drug screening, to education and employment verification. Utilizing a screening program can protect a company from the risk of bad hires, huge liabilities, and safety issues.

So, if the answer is “yes”, the company is protected, right?

Not if you are letting contract and temporary workers slip through the cracks.

The majority of companies have people on their premises that are outsourced staff or sub-contracted workers who are not officially “company employees.” These are people who are employed by other companies, but provided as a service. Examples of these are office cleaning people, guards, gardeners, etc.

These individuals pose as much risk as any permanent staff member and very often are even more of a potential threat. Here are some reasons why:

The contract company may be cutting corners. The contract company could be trying to save a few dollars by not conducting proper background checks on their workers. They could possibly decide to not use a third party company that specializes in screening, opting to ‘do it themselves’. This decision could result in missing crucial information about the employee’s background.

These employees have just as much access. Outsourced and contract staff often have free reign of the building. They have access to areas restricted to employees only. Cleaners, for example, have access to offices where sensitive information may be stored. Plant watering people have the same ability to roam freely through most company buildings. A dishonest person could have a heyday with this much freedom.

These employees are often less supervised. Contract workers often work after hours when company management is absent from the office. Cleaners and night guards, for example, are usually in the building when very few people are present. Again, this gives them even more opportunity to look through files for sensitive information. A person of dubious character could hit a jackpot of valuable information from credit card numbers to sensitive company secrets, all without the company’s knowledge.

These employees are subject to the same stresses and issues. Contract workers are people just the same as full-time employees. They have the same financial stresses and are just as likely to have a drug or alcohol problem, or a criminal history. Issues like these can push a person to steal or commit fraud, especially if they have opportunity.

It is just as important-maybe even more so-to put measures in place to “weed out” any contract worker who may be a risk to the workplace.

What to do: here are 2 options to take to make certain contract employees are screened properly.

  1. Make sure the contract company does a background check. Review your contract with any outsourced company. As part of service contracts, you should insist on screening as part of any agreement. Require that it clearly states the contract company is required to conduct background screening through a reputable third party company.
  2. Screen contract employees in-house. Conduct background screening on any employee who works for the company in the same manner, whether they are regular employees or contract employees. This option is a little more costly to the company, however, you maintain complete control over the screening process. You can choose the reputable third party company who screens the employee AND the types of checks that you feel are appropriate. This process will help you maintain control, and minimize the risk of a bad hire and unsafe workplace.

Pre-employment screening is an integral part of today’s hiring process. It’s important to make certain that ALL employees are screened in a proper manner. Putting these actions into place can reduce the risk of lawsuits, bad press, and safety issues.


~~Susan McCullah is the Product Development Director for Data Facts, a 23 year old Memphis-based company that provides mortgage product and banking solutions to lenders nationwide. Check our our website for a complete explanation of our services.

Lisa May

Lisa May is the Executive Vice President for Data Facts.

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