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Grow Your Business Your Team

Background Checks Are Now Common for Temps and Freelancers

Background Checks Are Now Common for Temps and Freelancers
Credit: RawPixel/Shutterstock

Full-time employees are no longer the only workers being subjected to background checks, new research shows.

A study from the background screening firm HireRight revealed a significant increase in the number of organizations conducting background checks on temporary, contract and freelance workers. Specifically, 86 percent of employers are now screening contingent workers before bringing them on for any assignments. This is up 45 percent from 2012.

"Contingent workers typically have the same type of access to company facilities, data, other employees and customers as full-time employees," the study's authors wrote. "For this reason, it's important to thoroughly screen every worker in the same way, regardless of work status."

While the influx of temporary workers is changing the background screening process for many employers, the decriminalization of marijuana many states have enacted is not.

The study found that, despite a number of states legalizing marijuana during last year's election, nearly 80 percent of the employers surveyed have no plans to change their drug screening policy this year. [Looking for background check services? Here are BND's best picks for 2017 .]

Along with the states that allow decriminalized marijuana for personal use, 28 states now allow medical use of marijuana.

"Whether or not you support the use of medical or recreational marijuana, it's best to have a policy that explicitly states your organization's position," the study's authors wrote.

Background checks are typically a one-time occurrence for employees. The research found that 48 percent of employers do not rescreen their workers post-hire. Those that do conduct follow-up background checks typically do so when an employee is promoted or changes roles.

"Unlike candidates hoping to join an organization, current employees already have access to highly sensitive information, such as records, business transactions, and financial data," the study's authors wrote. "Without occasional or regularly scheduled follow-up background checks, problems may arise that could seriously affect a business."
Overall, criminal history and past employment is what employers are looking for most during background screenings. The study found that 84 percent of organizations conduct criminal and other public record searches, with 72 percent checking previous employment and references.

Employers are finding more resume lies now than they were five years ago. The research shows that 85 percent of employers have found a lie or misrepresentation on a resume or job application, up from 66 percent in 2012.

The biggest problem organizations say they face with background checks is that they are slowing down the hiring process.

The study's authors said that, with more complex candidate backgrounds, organizations are struggling to find a balance between speed and accuracy.

"Organizations are now competing for the most qualified candidates and therefore putting greater emphasis on creating a positive onboarding experience, which includes the background check process," said Mary O'Loughlin, vice president of global customer experience and product management for HireRight, in a statement. "Despite pressures to hire quickly, organizations should not overlook the importance of instituting a thorough background check process that includes creating a global policy, rescreening current employees, and ensuring a rigorous screening process for senior executives."

The study was based on surveys of nearly 4,000 human resources professionals, from small, midsized and large firms worldwide, who indicated they were knowledgeable about employment screening and recruiting.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.