In Background Screening, Treat Contingent Workers and Employees Equal

Contingent workers play an important part of the fabric of today’s employment landscape. Look inside your own company and you’re likely to find an increasing number of contracted workers filling increasingly important roles.

We’re all aware of the need to distinguish between independent contractors and employees when it comes to taxes, payroll, and HR benefits. But how about when it comes to hiring risks?  Regardless the payroll category one thing is for sure: If a contingent worker doing work for your company causes harm to your employees, your customers, any member of general public, or the property of others, you can bet your company will be first to blame.

Things get even more interesting when you consider the Department of Labor’s desire to update the definition of “employee” vs. “contingent worker” such that workers who are economically dependent on the entity for whom they perform services generally should be treated as employees. In other words, the old belief that only workers under your direct control will be considered employees is filled with holes.

Check Your Definition of Background Check Against Theirs

We talk to many employers who tell us they’re risks are covered because their subcontractors are already subject to background checks under their respective placement agencies, companies, associations, or otherwise. You would do well to remember: your definition of a background check and someone else’s may be entirely different.

To some companies, a background check consists of a cursory database inquiry (and you know what they say about the risks of database criminal records.) Your company, on the other hand, shouldn’t settle for anything less than a comprehensive background check that involves a more holistic view of your actual employee candidates.

Why wouldn’t the same standard be set for your contingent workforce as your own employee?  Of course it should!   It’s a simple matter of smart risk mitigation to make certain this group is being screened to the same extent you would screen an employee with the same role in your organization.

The Basics of Contingent Worker Screening

Here are a few key considerations when it comes to developing your contingent workforce background screening program:

  • Work with your background screening provider and employment attorney to define your screening requirements on a per-role basis.
  • Set contractual obligations for third party contingent staffers to ensure the subcontractors they supply you with are screened at the required level.
  • If the hiring responsibility is entirely in the hands of your company, run these workers through the same screening protocol as your staff.  There need be no difference.
  • Apply the same decision criteria to your contingent workers that you apply to your employees.

In the end, a smart screening program is one that includes ALL of the workers who represent your brand and your interests.

Get started today with a free employment screening risk assessment.


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About MichaelGaul

Michael is a results-oriented marketing executive with over two decades of experience in employment screening, physical security, and business process management. Michael has deep experience in human capital risk management and a passion for educating business leaders and HR professionals on strategies that tangibly protect their interests. Michael serves on the Board of the Secure Cash and Transport Association (SCTA) and is a member of the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), and the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS).
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