Background checks on temporary workers
Companies are encouraged to exercise due diligence on every hire. Background screenings on full-time workers are common and even required by law in some cases, but what about employees brought into a business on a temporary basis?
Non-full time employees (FTEs), also known as contingent labor, fall under the category of temporary workers, consultants, independent contractors or subcontractors.
When considering background checks on temporary staff, employers should review federal and state background screening laws as well as their own internal hiring policies. For instance, truck drivers, including independent contractors, must undergo a background check as deemed by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act regulations.
Healthcare employers working with the disabled or elderly are governed by state law to carry out background checks on any applicant, temporary or full-time, who may have direct contact with these vulnerable populations.
Any job that requires security clearance or a government contract is another case where background investigations will be performed on an independent contractor or other contingent worker - the same procedure any full-time employee in this position would undergo.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which regulates the use of background checks, names "employment purposes" as a reason for any company requesting a consumer report on an applicant. In FCRA terms, "employment purposes" are defined as a report "used for the purposes of evaluating a consumer for employment, promotion, reassignment or retention as an employee.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stated in an opinion letter that the FRCA's definition of "employment purposes" includes checks conducted on temporary employees.
Ultimately, employers should have a blanket background check policy for all freelancers, consultants, part-time workers and other contingent staff. A consistent policy can guard companies against discrimination claims and ensure compliance with federal, state and local law.