COVID-19: What should employers consider as they adapt their background screening program?

COVID-19: What should employers consider as they adapt their background screening program?

Excerpted from Forbes by Alonzo Martinez

Businesses continue to operate despite the global reach of COVID-19. And while some industries are seeing a momentary downturn in hiring, others are experiencing a seemingly insatiable need for talent. From workers supporting the supply chain to healthcare professionals on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19, the need to identify and onboard workers is more critical now than ever.

And for many organizations that are experiencing a lull in hiring, the shift to remote work presents new risks that may have been previously unconsidered. Workers who are out of sight should not be out of mind.

Why screen?

Employers have a legal duty to ensure that a prospective worker does not present a danger to the organization or its clients. Negligent hiring occurs when employers fail to act reasonably when hiring an individual, and that individual subsequently harms someone else. Once a candidate is hired, employers are responsible for supervising their employees and ensuring that a worker’s retention does not present probable harm to the organization or its clients. Employers who fall below their duty of care and negligently hire or retain a worker could be liable for that worker’s bad acts.

Background screening is a vital part of an employer’s hiring and retention assessments as it provides employers with the ability to reasonably ascertain a worker’s future actions based, in part, on their past behaviors. Case in point, if a candidate has a criminal past, but has maintained a clean slate for several years and is employed in a similar position, those are good indicators that the worker should not present a foreseeable risk to the employer. Similarly, if the employee’s performance and periodic criminal screening or monitoring are satisfactory, then there isn’t likely a cause for alarm. But you cannot reasonably assess risk without a background check.
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