How is COVID-19 Impacting Background Checks?

covid 19 background check

As an employer navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, you have most likely had to adjust your normal hiring procedures and transition to a more virtual approach.

While some companies have opted to simply not hire during this time, many are going about hiring as usual. In fact, certain essential industries such as healthcare and certain retailers have greatly increased the number of positions for which they are hiring.

Companies continue to conduct background checks for hiring purposes; however, in some cases, they may experience delays in processing time.

As your screening partner, iprospectcheck is diligently working at full capacity to ensure your background check needs are met.

Here are some answers to your questions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on background checks, including why there are background check delays, and how to continue to confidently hire employees during this time.

What is causing background check delays?

Temporary court closures across the nation are one of the leading causes of background check delays. Some reports are taking longer than usual to process because the court may be open but accepting fewer requests per day. Most courts are starting to consider how and when they will reopen, but it will take time before all are up and running as normal again.

Fortunately, many records are virtual, so a lot of information can still be accessed. In fact, almost all states are still able to produce motor vehicle records and most drug screening labs are still open and processing drug tests.

Education and employment verifications are accessible during this time, unless a company is completely closed or records are not part of the National Student Clearinghouse database. In that case, we can work with your candidates directly to resolve difficult-to-verify employers and education information. We will get it done for you!

Waiting for a closed county is a new challenge – What should I do?

If court closures or other delays are hindering your hiring process, there are still ways to hire new employees.

One option being utilized is conditional hiring.

What is conditional hiring?

Conditional hiring is when you hire an employee under the stipulation that you will run their background check as soon as possible, review the report, and make a final hiring decision at that point. This might be an attractive option if you are experiencing background check delays but still need to hire someone immediately.

It is best to consult legal counsel to better understand your policies and possibly revise them if needed. Doing so will help you better determine if conditional hiring is best for your business.

I received the background check report after making a hiring decision. – What should I do now?

If you did decide to hire someone and your policy determines that you must terminate their employment after receiving their background check report, you need to start the FCRA adverse action process.

To ensure you stay compliant, it is important to follow all required policy steps prior to terminating an employee. This should include a consult with legal counsel.

What will iprospectcheck do if there is a delay on a background check?

We are communicating directly with all clients who are experiencing delays. We will keep you informed every step of the way.

If your background check report is delayed, iprospectcheck will hold your request and process it once the court opens again. You do not need to submit a new one. We will notify you as soon as your report is ready, and you will receive the results as you always do.

Can I ask a candidate about their criminal history if a background check is delayed?

While this may seem like a good option in the midst of these unprecedented background check delays, the first thing you’ll want to determine is whether or not your company resides in a Ban the Box” state or municipality.

“Ban the Box” regulations protect job candidates from being asked about their criminal history on a job application. Some states stretch this policy and do not allow employers to ask any questions regarding an applicant’s history until after a job interview or conditional job offer.

If your state does not have the “Ban-the-Box” policy, it is still best practice to wait until after a conditional job offer is extended to ask questions regarding a candidate’s criminal background. There are many fair chance hiring laws that protect individuals with criminal backgrounds, and you’ll want to ensure you are not breaking any of them.

This is an area where legal counsel would be well advised.

Should I update my employment screening policy?

With the rapid changes in the employment landscape that are occurring due to COVID-19, now is a great time to review and update your employment screening policies. You may choose to add language about how your company will adjust and respond in a crisis should a similar situation occur in the future.

What other items should be included in an updated employment screening policy?

  • What will be checked during the background screening process
  • If and when an employee will be screened and rescreened
  • What type of results will negatively impact the likelihood of being hired and for what positions
  • Provisional hiring policies and how reports are utilized once received

Be sure to review your policy updates with legal counsel to ensure you are following all state and federal guidelines when it comes to how you conduct your background checks.

Should employees be rescreened when they come back to work or are rehired once my business reopens?

If an employee is furloughed—meaning they are on unpaid leave but have not been terminated from your company—it is not currently a standard practice to rescreen them.

If, on the other hand, a former employee is going to be rehired, it is best to run a background check on them as if they were being hired for the first time. This ensures you are treating all employees equally.

If you do not have a clear policy regarding this issue, now is a good time to standardize your screening procedures for this type of occurrence.

What do I do if I ran a check on a candidate but haven’t been able to hire them yet due to COVID-19?

Fortunately, background checks do not expire, but the information may no longer be accurate if too much time passes.

Does your company have a policy regarding how long a background check is useful prior to hiring someone? A standard amount of time is 30 days. After that, it is best to run the candidate’s background check again to ensure you do not miss any new information.

COVID-19 and the workplace: What do I need to know?

While getting to reopen your business is exciting, you will want to ensure you do everything possible to keep your company and employees safe. Fortunately, there are guidelines to help you navigate reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an employer may delay a start date or withdraw a job offer all together if an applicant shows symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive for the disease.

As the COVID-19 regulations are constantly changing and often vary by state, it is best to consult legal counsel when making employment decisions due to COVID-19.

iprospectcheck will help you get the most value out of your background check program right now

As the employment landscape is evolving in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the background check process is more important than ever. Even with delayed background checks for employment, you can and should continue to screen all potential employees.

As we navigate this unique time together, iprospectcheck is here to help you with all your background check needs. Contact us today for a no-obligation, free consultation—we are fully staffed and ready to serve you during this time.

Know Before You Hire

About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.