Contractor Background Check Program Best Practices You Should Be Following

Hiring an employee is not the same as engaging a contractor through a regional or national service network. The supervision, direct relationship, and other requirements that exist in an employment relationship are not present when your organization uses a service network to deliver services or products to your consumers.

So, why would the screening practices be the same? They are not.

For clarity, the term “contractor” refers to any individual that is not directly employed by your organization but undertakes a contract to complete a service or job for you. These best practices are designed to guide organizations that engage full-service networks, versus the common gig economy reference to contractors who would be engaged by another individual directly.

In most service contract relationships, your organization will never have direct contact with the contractor doing the work on your behalf. Your organization is focused on risk mitigation and ensuring no contractor will do operational or reputational damage and for this reason, most of your interest will be on safety. For this reason, identity verification is a key component to any program as are the specific background searches conducted and how individuals are monitoring once in your service network, and below we review each of these in turn.

Keep reading to learn the best practices for managing your contractor background screening program.

 

Properly verify the person’s identity for accurate screening results

To ensure a complete and useful background check, the personal identifiers of the individual being screened must be accurate. This means any name(s), date of birth (DOB), Social Security Number (SSN), and address information needs to be correct and thorough. Each background search should contain a Person/Identity Search, once called an SSN Trace.

This search is used to verify the identity of an individual by searching hundreds of sources including credit bureau header information, USPS address forwarding details, utility bill records, voter registration data, licensing and registration data, and various repositories of information. The search returns all associated names, DOB, and address history details for the individual which are then used as pointers for additional searches conducted. It also determines if an SSN is included on the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File and therefore invalid, when and during what year(s) the SSN was issued. This is important to confirm the date of birth and geographic location of the individual. Ensuring honesty in this information sets a strong foundation upon which other searches can be conducted.

Importantly, the identity search will help verify that the names provided, known as given names, are accurate, and it may provide a middle name that can be used for a more thorough search. Additionally, other names the individual may have used, former names, other surnames, nick or preferred names, may also be identified. These can then be reviewed to determine if they should be included in the background search. Oftentimes, those with criminal records will use alternate names to reduce the chance of those records being identified so using all known names is very important. The DOB, used along with the name, is the single most helpful identifier, to locate possible records and any discrepancy in the DOB may exclude records that should be part of your search. Performing a criminal background check using incorrect or fraudulent information invalidates the entire criminal background check altogether.

To learn more about this topic, read our article on the identification process.

 

Conduct Criminal and Driver Record Searches to understand if the individual poses a risk

Among the most common components of safety-focused background checks are criminal, sex offender, and driving records. These searches, which are conducted effectively will provide insight into the contractor’s background and suitability for eligibility in a service network. Ensuring that your customers are protected in their homes, workplaces, and communities, as well as protecting your reputation, relies on ensuring contractors are not posing a risk. Services of note are county criminal record check, federal criminal record check, a national criminal database search, and a sex offender registry search. If driving is required in their role, a driver record search should also be included. If the individual is a “helper” or will be working on the vehicle but not responsible for driving, this driving search is not as applicable. Let’s look more closely at the recommended scope for each of these search types and why they are considered best practices for contractor screenings.

  • County Criminal Record search uses the individual’s name(s), date of birth (DOB), and address information to determine county jurisdiction(s) to be searched. A typical search is for felony and misdemeanor criminal records conducted of readily available information at the predominantly used index held at the central court in the requested jurisdiction. A solid search should include jurisdictions covering at least seven years of residential address history. This is the most comprehensive criminal search type that can be conducted on an individual and is advised in every screening package.
  • Federal Criminal Record search also uses the individual’s name(s), DOB, and address information to determine federal jurisdiction(s) to be searched. Utilizing the federal judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), an electronic access service, a search of felony and misdemeanors of ‘federal cases’ is conducted which may include securities, mail, and tax law violations, immigration, weapons, interstate drug crimes, civil rights violations, and civil cases filed at the federal level. This search is conducted in any one of the 94 federal districts and identifies cases heard in the US District Courts, US Bankruptcy Courts, and US Courts of Appeals. Since federal jurisdictions are much larger than counties and these types of records are less frequent, searching in at least the current residential jurisdiction is a good demonstration of due diligence.
  • National Criminal Database search is a broad search using the individual’s name and DOB performed against a large database of the available county and state criminal information, the state reported sex offender records as well as fugitive, Department of Corrections, US and international government databases covering numerous watches and sanctions listings. Records may be updated weekly, monthly, or on another timing schedule but vary from search to search. Since this is a database search, the standard process should only report information that has been verified against the source data to ensure the accuracy of the information before any possible records are reported. This search allows for a wider search to be conducted than just using residential address history information, however, it is not a replacement for county-level searches and is not to be mistaken for “national” in its scope as there are many gaps in coverage.
  • Sex Offender Registry search uses the individual’s name(s) to search against the US Department of Justice, National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). If a record is located, cross-references are made against criminal records and other database searches we have completed. Sex Offender Registry searches only report the subject’s registration as a Registered Sex Offender and may not contain the actual criminal conviction(s) which resulted in their inclusion on the registry. For individuals working without supervision, in customer homes, and off-premise situations, this is a very important search to consider.
  • Driving Record search uses the driver’s license number and state of issue to search the Department of Motor Vehicle (“DMV”) records for driving status and history. The individual’s name is also submitted but may not be required for the search. This search is helpful to determine the accuracy of the demographic information compared to the information maintained by the DMV including names, addresses, and reported date of birth, as available. The MVR report includes the class of the license, citation history, accident history, suspension information, license restrictions, and the current status of the driver’s license. Search scope is limited by the individual state DMV and is at least 3 years, depending on the state. The most relevant result for most customers is to determine if the individual has an active and valid license. The nuances of various traffic infractions are not generally as important but identification of a suspended, expired, revoked, or not verified license is more concerning.

 

Follow an appeal process to offer the individual being screened an opportunity to explain results before a decision is made

An addition to the background screening process that is quickly being embraced by the ban the box and fair chance movement, is the concept of an appeal. This step occurs after the background check is completed and before a final decision is made on the findings, specifically when those findings may have an adverse impact the individual. An adverse impact is an event like not being hired, not being deemed authorized to work on a contract, or other restrictions on their final status with your organization. The appeal process is in addition to any prescribed requirement under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, (FCRA).

An appeal is an opportunity for the individual being screened to confirm the accuracy of the report contents and appeal for further consideration based on those findings. It offers the chance to provide additional information related to the matter at hand, most often a criminal history, and share extenuating circumstances for the issue, rehabilitation efforts since the issue, and/or other considerations that should be made before a final decision is arrived at. This is the chance for the individual to demonstrate why they should be considered for the role and deemed suitable for the opportunity. It also ensures that an individualized assessment is done specifically to that individual and their unique situation. It does not use a rigid process for making decisions but allows for some flexibility to accommodate various situations.

 

Continuous Criminal Monitoring after the initial background check

While a comprehensive background check is valuable at the outset, and during regular intervals, of the engagement with an individual, continuous monitoring provides an ongoing method of ensuring risk is managed and reduced. Continuous monitoring is the ongoing process of reviewing criminal records on an individual that may flag internal threats and safety concerns. It is a helpful tool in a risk management strategy and will be best supported when used with a self-reporting policy, which encourages individuals to come forward with any relevant information that may impact contract program participation.

Using the individual’s name, date of birth, and SSN, where available, this service provides access to near-real-time data for United States (US) arrest, court, and booking records from county jails and Department of Corrections facilities across most of the US. While not nationwide coverage, sources cover most of the population and are a suitable search to identify potential behavior that may pose a risk to your business, customers, brand, customer loyalty, and reputation. Continuous monitoring will typically provide notice within 24 hours of the event. Incarceration and booking alerts provide a proactive tool and more timely information over a wider geographic area than a local level county record check and serve to fill the gap between more thorough background screenings.

 

Summary

Sharing your organization’s expectations with your service network is not enough to ensure compliance with your requirements. The requirement for background checks should be documented and agreed to in every service contract for every provider in your network. A proper program will also include having your partner report compliance rates across the network, versus relying on a self-certification, which is common and demonstrates far less diligence. Throughout the evolution of the program, compliance rates should also increase, and this will demonstrate the commitment to compliance that is required across your whole network.

Of course, background screening is only one risk mitigation tool in a comprehensive contractor management program. In addition to background screening, additional risk mitigation components are COI Management, License Monitoring, Badging and Credentialing, and TIN Matching.

 

About PlusOne Solutions

PlusOne Solutions has been an industry leader in the risk management field by specializing in compliance programs that meet the complex challenges of geographically dispersed contractors, vendors, and employee networks. PlusOne Solutions protects companies from possible financial, legal, and reputational risks associated with contractor and vendor relationships while creating safer work environments. To learn more, visit http://www.PlusOneSolutions.net.

 

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel concerning their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.

 

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5 Benefits of Tracking Trade Licenses for Your Contractor Network

Licensing is one of those critical areas that can take a back seat when managing the compliance of your contractor network. The reason is that virtually every contract contains language that requires the contracted company to maintain licenses to perform their work. To make matters worse, the contractual indemnification clauses provide an even greater false sense of security that license management is not needed. Because of the contractual clauses, we have the impression that it will not make much of an impact on mitigating risk compared to other areas of compliance, much less help with overall operations.

If your goal is to reduce legal, financial, operational, and reputational risks then it’s time to look at actively managing and monitoring your contracted networks’ trade licenses.

The added benefit is that you will find yourself with a contractor network that provides high-level quality work and a reduction in claims and liability while supporting your company’s name and reputation.

 

REDUCE LEGAL LIABILITY

In many states, it is illegal to hire or contract with an unlicensed contractor. If a project goes bad or the contractor gets caught in a sting operation, you will risk taking on the legal liability.

Worse yet, some states will remove the protection of your contractor being an independent contractor if they are not licensed. For example, in California, according to Labor Code §2750.5, an unlicensed worker performing services for which a license is required is not an independent contractor. Each state is different, but one thing is for sure — hiring an unlicensed contractor leaves you more exposed to liability.

In the most severe cases, state attorney generals may file charges of corporate negligent hiring when using unlicensed contractors is a pattern.

 

AVOID YOUR BRAND’S EXPOSURE TO STING OPERATIONS

Licensing was designed by government entities together with the trade associations to protect public health, safety, and welfare. More and more, states, counties, and municipalities are finding themselves fighting fraud from unlicensed individuals who are taking advantage of others by offering their services, collecting payment, and then not completing the work. This has led to numerous sting operations, which is getting news coverage, to identify unlicensed contractors, and many larger companies who are dispatching the unlicensed contractors are getting caught in the stings. Regardless of whether your contractors are committing fraud, it doesn’t hide the fact that governments are actively searching for unlicensed contractors and issuing citations for aiding and abetting to those that hire them to perform the work on their behalf.

 

IDENTIFY REVOKED AND SUSPENDED LICENSES

If you have a large contractor network, you probably have a certificate of insurance (COI) management program in place. If so, then you are aware that insurance policies can commonly get canceled and you don’t always find out until it’s too late and you are stuck paying a claim. Most states and jurisdictions require proof of insurance to maintain a valid license. In many states and jurisdictions, such as Washington State, they verify directly with the state workers’ compensation fund that they are staying up on their quarterly payments and reporting of employees. If the contractor fails to keep valid insurance or remain in good standing, then the license will be suspended or revoked leaving you unknowingly dispatching unlicensed contractors.

Most states require that a licensed contractor provide a bond and/or participate in a warranty fund to cover faulty work. This is added protection for you and your customers. Dropping or canceling the required bonds is another reason why licensing boards will revoke or suspend a license.

Also, a licensed contractor can have their license suspended or revoked if complaints have been filed against them and the complaint involves a statutory violation. One of the most common complaints is failure to complete the job in a satisfactory or competent manner. Being able to identify when a license is suspended or revoked is a critical aspect of tracking and monitoring licenses to ensure that you utilize not only a licensed contractor but one that has not been suspended. This will help you develop a higher quality network that will protect your brand’s reputation and reduce legal and financial risks.

 

PROVIDE QUALITY WORK TO CUSTOMERS

When you onboard a licensed contractor to your network, you know that you are bringing on a company that will perform at a higher standard. To be licensed, a contractor must complete a minimum number of hours as an apprentice, pass standardized tests within their trade, and complete continuing education courses to renew their license. Just like we know an employee who continually focuses on professional development will perform at a higher level, those that are licensed and continue to renew are learning new and better methods in their trade.

Like any other business, training leads to higher customer satisfaction. It is no different with a contractor network. The training they complete to be licensed will lead to higher quality work which will, in turn, create customer retention and loyalty because they will be pleased with the work. Additionally, companies that take the time and money to be licensed will generally run a better business; they do not cut corners. Overall, the contractor will be a better face for your company and generate loyalty for your company name.

 

ANOTHER WAY TO MANAGE RISK & REDUCE COSTS

When the work performed is completed by someone with the proper training, then there will be fewer accidents and more first-time resolutions. How often does a water distribution line or sanitation drain get incorrectly attached and cause damage? You will naturally see a decline in claims and complaints when your contractors know what they are doing. If the contractors do not maintain their continuing education credits, then this will also cause a license to go into a suspended or revoked status.

 

SUMMARY

If you are looking to improve operations and reduce risk, then actively monitoring and tracking licenses is an area to focus on. Not only will it help close the gap on potential liability and claims but it will ensure that you have quality contractors who will have higher standards of competency, ensure they are meeting government standards of protection for the customer and will protect, and even improve, your company name.

 

About PlusOne Solutions

PlusOne Solutions has been an industry leader in the risk management field by specializing in compliance programs that meet the complex challenges of geographically dispersed contractors, vendors, and employee networks. PlusOne Solutions protects companies from possible financial, legal, and reputational risks associated with contractor and vendor relationships while creating safer work environments. To learn more, visit http://www.PlusOneSolutions.net.

 

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel with respect to their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.


 

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Quarterly Compliance Update, Q4 2020

Maintaining compliance throughout the pandemic, PBSA chairperson update, data entry for background screening, Canadian driving record checks, customer service email address update, and FCRA training are all included in this quarterly update.

Each quarter, PlusOne Solutions provides a compliance update to keep you abreast of changes and updates in legal developments as well as company news. This information is provided for education only and does not constitute legal advice.

Maintaining Compliance and Delays with COVID-19

Throughout the last six months, PlusOne Solutions has continued to work with Customers to ensure their levels of compliance remain strong. Some courts do continue to have extended turnaround times or altered hours for their clerk assisted process but most courts are open and completing searches. We continue to encourage any individual that needs to be rescreened to submit their screening before the expiration date and the individual will continue to report in compliance.

For unique situations or additional questions, please contact us at screenings@plusonesolutions.net for more information.

 

The New Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) Chair is from PlusOne Solutions!

Michelle Leblond, Executive Vice President of Compliance and Privacy at PlusOne Solutions, is the new Chairperson of the Professional Background Screening Association’s Board of Directors. PBSA is the screening industry association that PlusOne Solutions has supported and been actively involved with for almost 10 years. As well as embracing the mission “to advance excellence in the screening profession,” PBSA has also been very active in ensuring consistent and reliable access to criminal records.

Among the Association’s current US initiatives has been the effort to improve and ensure access to criminal record information. This comes in several forms from direct access, meaning that public record information remains accessible to third parties like PlusOne Solutions or its vendors, it may also mean supporting and advising on technology enhancements to improve record access, and then there is also the advocacy for the quality and cost of information. We require that court records provide consistent and detailed identification information – such as names, dates of birth, and even address or Social Security Number information, when available. Creating systems that limit these identifiers creates great challenges for our industry. Likewise, we do not want to see courts create cumbersome processes to access information or exorbitant fees that create undue burdens on those needing the information. PBSA regularly makes itself available to educate and advise court administrators and has created preferred language, technology recommendations, and position statements related to these topics to ensure the industry continues to get complete and efficient access to the information our customers require.

As background screening volumes increase, don’t let quality get impacted

Many of our customers are heading into a busy Q4 and with that, we tend to notice more data entry errors and slips in the information submitted. Any errors in given and alias names, address, or date of birth information can impact the accuracy and completeness of screening results. While we do have internal steps to catch these errors, delays and need for resubmissions can result.

 

NEW SERVICE OFFERING > Canadian Driver Record Checks

MVR checks are now available in all provinces and territories in Canada, except Alberta. For details, please contact your customer success contact at customercare@plusonesolutions.net

 

Change in PlusOne Solutions Customer Service Email Address

PlusOne Solutions is changing their customer service email from ProScreens@PlusOneSolutions.Net to Support@PlusOneSolutions.Net Please update your records. This change is to reflect our desire to support your network of providers or vendors with all of their compliance needs. This email address can be used for general concerns and questions around compliance, the Insight Provider Portal, and ScreeningsPlus website.

 

FCRA Training 2020 Reminder – Thank You!

Thank you to all Customers who have completed the annual Customer training regarding the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This training covers the basics of the law, the responsibilities of requesting and using consumer reports as well as obligations for the destruction of information. Please watch for this notice and complete the training. PlusOne Solutions requests an annual certification from Customers to ensure their partnership in remaining compliant with FCRA obligations. Completion of this training constitutes certification and keeps Customer users updated on their obligations when using consumer reports.

 


You may also be interested in:

  • Q3 2020 Compliance Update – CA Licensing Reform and Criminal Records, compliance during COVID, and FCRA training.
  • Q2 2020 Compliance Update – Maintaining compliance during the pandemic, updated regulations for joint employment, and in-home contractor screening legislation.
  • Q1 2020 Compliance Update – Pending in-home contractor background check legislation, our Continuous Criminal Monitoring program and new gas work requirements in NYC.

 

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Questions or comments? We want to hear from you.


5 Ways Background Screening for Contractors Differs from Employment Screening

When you have an employee clocking in each day, whose work is closely monitored, and with whom there is a direct relationship, the background screening is straightforward.

However, when dealing with contractors, or a contractor network, the variables in the background screening process are much different.

In this context, “contractor” refers to any individual that is not directly employed by your organization but undertakes a contract to complete a service or job for you. In this article, we are specifically speaking to organizations that engage full-service networks, versus the common gig economy reference to contractors who would be engaged by another individual directly.

 

Keep reading to learn the differences between contractors and employees and how working with a partner who specializes in contractor screening may be a better approach.

 

  1. Focus on Risk and Protection of Customers

When using a contractor network, the focus is on ensuring they are effective, competent, and do not bring operational, legal, or reputational risk to your organization. For this reason, the searches conducted during the background check process tend to focus more on criminal records, including sex offender and criminal database searches, and driving record checks, if relevant to the position. Since most contractors are working on their own, or with one other person, in an environment where they are not directly supervised, they need to be trustworthy and safe to send to customer homes and off-premise sites. Customers expect that they will be safe in their homes and sending a known sex offender into a customer home would be among the biggest risks that could occur.

 

Verification of education and confirmation of past employment tends to be the responsibility of the direct employer and not as relevant for contractor screening. To protect your organization, you can ensure professionalism and technical competency are covered in contract terms. For this reason, a standard contractor background check is more focused on criminal matters and reducing that risk.

 

  1. Confirmation of Identity

Since most contractors are working on their own, or with one other person, in an environment where they are not directly supervised, they need to be trustworthy and safe to send to customer homes and off-premise sites. For a thorough background check to be done, accurate identification information and demographics must be used. This includes the correct spelling and complete submission of names – given and alias names, as well as the accurate date of birth. By extension, the identity information demands heightened attention from your screening partner related to any discrepancies in names, date of birth, or other identifiers. These are all valuable criteria used in the screening process that can impact the results. Providing false identification information is the most common way for criminals to hide their true identity. Transposing month and day of birth or using a middle name instead of a first name can be innocent mistakes or, more likely, can be deliberate attempts to hide their true information and possible issues that may impact their engagement.

 

A qualified vendor will not only flag such issues to your attention, but will also ensure the issues are resolved before a background screening is completed. Completing a background screening using incorrect or incomplete information will increase your risk and provide a false sense of security.

 

  1. Relative Stability and Tenure 

Many of the contractors in a service network are considered skilled labor and may be in their roles for years. For this reason, it is important to implement an ongoing background screening effort, typically referred to as a “rescreening program.” Since it takes time for court records to proceed through the judicial system and most individuals will be on their best behavior for the start of any new engagement, the typical rescreen timeline we see across customer networks is two years. This means every two years each contractor undergoes a complete rescreen. Not only does this ensure that there is an ongoing program to demonstrate due diligence, but it may also uncover records not available during the initial background screening. The mere fact that there is a rescreening program could be a deterrent to delinquent behavior in the network. This, coupled with self-reporting requirements in service contracts, can mediate risk once a contractor is engaged.

 

  1. The Expectation to Maintain a Safe Work Environment

Since many contractors are working with equipment, appliances, or gas or power, they need to be sharp, productive, and clear thinking. For this reason, many contractor networks undergo drug screening. This is typically done at the start of the contractual relationship as well as at the rescreening intervals noted above. Drug screening is not included as a commentary on someone’s morals or out of work behavior, but it is done to ensure they are not posing a safety risk when in a customer’s home or office location. Anything that impairs their judgment, impacts their thinking or reflexes, or alters their expected behavior can be detrimental to your organization in terms of claims or even reputational damage.

 

  1. Ability to Apply YOUR Standards

While the contractor may have been screened to the standards of their direct employer, these standards may not equal your own. Likewise, many programs carry only a certification that the individual has been screened. What your organization is willing to accept in a background screen may be different and implementing your screening program allows you to apply and uphold those standards. It is your reputation and business you are protecting so relying on certification is insufficient. Should the unfortunate circumstance arise where there is an issue, the ability for your organization to cite their policy, program, and requirements may well be the saving grace when facing legal or other claims.

 

Summary

When evaluating the risk and quality of your contracted network, background checks can play an important role. Screening your contractors ensures consistent brand protection and standards across your direct hires and contracted services. Customers view contractors as an extension of your organization and do not differentiate their expectations based on whether you directly employ them or not. Your company name is what they remember, not the contracted company that engages the actual contractor doing the work in their home.

 

Many background checking companies will indicate they screen employees and can also handle contractor screening, but as we’ve demonstrated, there is a difference and the expertise needed to balance those needs is critical to the success of your contractor screening program.

 

About PlusOne Solutions

PlusOne Solutions has been an industry leader in the risk management field by specializing in compliance programs that meet the complex challenges of geographically dispersed contractors, vendors, and employee networks. PlusOne Solutions protects companies from possible financial, legal, and reputational risks associated with contractor and vendor relationships while creating safer work environments. To learn more, visit http://www.PlusOneSolutions.net.

 

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel with respect to their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.

 

You may also be interested in:

 

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Questions or comments? We want to hear from you.


6 Benefits of Outsourcing Your Certificate of Insurance (COI) Management Program

You already know managing Certificates of Insurance (COI) is a crucial part of protecting your business from unforeseen liability.

The problem is that these COIs keep coming in and organizing and tracking them has become a nightmare. If it’s not your sole responsibility, then there are a ton of other projects and tasks your team needs to focus on.

The minute you get behind on COI management is when a claim comes in and you realize that your COI management process is vulnerable and needs help.

Perhaps now is a good time to consider engaging a COI Management partner to get your compliance program back on track.

Here are some key benefits you can experience by outsourcing COI management to an insurance expert:

 

1. Higher Quality COI Management Program = Improved Compliance Rates

When working with a specialized COI Management partner, your outsourced business tasks will be handled by seasoned and skilled professionals whose sole job is to do this type of work. They are trained to maintain the relationships with your contactor or vendor networks, while also being able to explain your organization’s requirements to determine compliance. Working with the company and the insurance agent allows a qualified partner to understand and communicate those requirements to each party and improve compliance levels for your organization.

The team processing the work is also experienced with reading policies, understanding endorsements and exclusions, checking policy types and appropriate limits are in place, and determining if the COI or documentation submitted by the company is actually compliant with your requirements.

Outsourcing can engage a team focused specifically on the COI management task, gaining valuable experience, and developing key relationships with agents which in turn provide a better program for your organization.

 

2. Flexibility and Cost Savings

Outsourcing not only decreases the need to hire additional employees to complete the tasks, but also eliminates the requirement for purchasing and maintaining the infrastructure, hardware, and software for the completion of those outsourced tasks. This responsibility now lies with your COI partner who can leverage the volumes they process to access better systems for COI management programs.

With an effective COI management system, your partner will have the ability to track expiration dates on policies and will staff according to those fluctuations. There is no longer a need on your end to coordinate staffing to accommodate changes in the volume of COIs to process — that is the COI management partner’s responsibility. You do not need to engage more or fewer resources to manage these loads or invest in the infrastructure or software programs to manage the process.

 

3. Access to Data and Metrics to Measure Your Compliance

Understanding how many policies are being tracked, when they will (or did) expire, as well as ensuring easy access to the information from multiple locations are all benchmarks for a quality program. The right partner will provide your organization not only 24/7 access to your COI documents in an easy-to-use portal but will also report on that data.

Many internal processes retain information in cumbersome spreadsheets reliant on formulas and pivot tables — or worse… in hard copy in filing cabinets. When an issue arises, the ability to access information quickly, and confidently is imperative to keeping the process moving. A partner with a centralized process can offer such benefits.

With attention to your specific requirements, your selected partner should also be able to readily provide information on how many policies are on file, whether they are active and whether they meet your compliance needs. Oftentimes a program contains a “one and done” approach where the COI is received but it is not ever reviewed to ensure it contains the proper coverage. A quality COI management program should also proactively manage cancellations and reinstatements. This will reduce your exposure to underinsured or uninsured companies in your network, thereby lowering your business risk.

When outsourcing COI management, your partner can move your organization to proactive management of the process instead of a reactive position.

 

4. Better Benchmarking and Program Recommendations

Do you know what your competitors are doing? Do you know what the most common levels of insurance coverage or types of insurance are? Do you receive advice on how to balance the demands of operations versus reducing risk? The right partner will know the answers.

They can work with you to understand best practices and address changes in requirements and coverage based on the millions of COI and insurance documents they process each year. This advantage is invaluable in determining when and how changes may be required in your program. An insurance agent or advisor will not have the same access to information as a competent partner.

 

5. Faster Turnaround Time and Better Compliance

Outsourcing tasks to a qualified partner ensure faster turnaround times and accuracy, as the company taking outsourced projects possesses the efficiency and expertise in completing the tasks since it is their core business. The processing of COIs is no longer considered “another task” on someone’s already busy to-do list and you will see your network compliance rates increase.

 

6. Ability to Focus on Your Core Business 

When you outsource some of the time-consuming tasks, you get more time to focus on the core operations of your business that will drive business growth and revenue. Managing COI compliance is time-consuming and complex, yet it is critical to reduce your risk and protect your reputation. That is why more and more network managers are outsourcing certificates of insurance management, functions, and processes to experts who can handle it for them.

 

Summary

The COI expertise required to effectively, and efficiently, read and understand COI’s and documents can be difficult — and is likely not a core competency among your staff.

The importance, however, of getting this right and the impact this has on mitigating risk for your organization should at least open a discussion on what a competent partner can offer.

 

About PlusOne Solutions

PlusOne Solutions has been an industry leader in the risk management field by specializing in compliance programs that meet the complex challenges of geographically dispersed contractors, vendors, and employee networks. PlusOne Solutions protects companies from possible financial, legal, and reputational risks associated with contractor and vendor relationships while creating safer work environments. To learn more, visit http://www.PlusOneSolutions.net.

 

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Reducing Bias in the Background Screening Process: Our Commitment to Social Justice

Discrimination, diversity, and inclusiveness are raising questions surrounding best practices for pre-screening bias. However, PlusOne Solutions has been committed to social justice since the company was founded in 2005.

 

Recent media articles demand that organizations who handle criminal record checks should be accountable for their role in social justice initiatives and understanding the impact these records can have on various groups. Specifically of note is the Washington Post article which calls data organizations to task for perpetuating discrimination by using and sharing criminal record information that is obtained from a system that is known to be flawed and unfair to some in our population.

We feel it is important to highlight our efforts and commitment to social justice and underscore the acceptance and accountability we take for our role in society. We share this now as a contribution to the dialogue that needs to occur and a reminder that for us, for more than 15 years, social justice is part of the foundation of PlusOne Solutions and this isn’t a new trend in response to more recent circumstances.

 

How we define the company against social justice principles

PlusOne Solutions believes everyone deserves equal economic and social rights and access to opportunities. We commit to social justice as an ongoing effort rather than a static end state. For us, social justice is based on the principles of respect, care, and equity; with an awareness of how race, gender, economic class, sexual orientation, family responsibility or family status, marital status, religious or political conviction, age, and disability may impact the opportunities for individuals.

By acknowledging the attitudes, assumptions, and judgments that shape our actions, we create policies and work processes that respect the dignity and value of every individual we background screen and work with. We know the work we do has real impacts on individuals and their lives – they may not be gainfully employed because of the information we provide.

That is a big responsibility and not one that we take lightly.

 

The Role PlusOne Solutions Plays in the Industry

We conduct thousands of background checks each year on individuals across the U.S. and Canada. This may include data such as driving record searches, criminal record and arrest information, and global watches and database searches. Many of these may also include demographic information which is used in our matching and identification process. How we use, protect, and share this information with Customers, our end users, and the opportunities we afford the individuals about whom we have information, creates the base for our social justice efforts. Also, our process regularly includes requirements that support reentry efforts like state, county, or even city-level Ban the Box or Fair Chance initiatives which seek to provide previously convicted individuals an opportunity to reenter society in a meaningful way.

 

6 Things We Do to Commit to Social Justice in Our Background Screening Process

 

1. Provide More Opportunities Through an Appeal Process
From the start of our business, we have always offered individuals both an option to dispute, as is their right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), as well as an opportunity to appeal. Before a final decision is made about the individual’s inclusion in our Customer’s service network, they have the opportunity to appeal the decision.

The dispute process is focused on information that is incorrect or incomplete while the appeal process recognizes the information is accurate but provides the opportunity for the individual to disclose additional detail about their circumstances to explain why they feel they are still suitable for the role and eligibility in the Customer’s network. This allows the individual to explain why their past experiences or criminal history should not be a disqualifying condition.

 

2. Use Identification Numbers in Place of Individual Names
With all the individuals we deal with, we have a lot of “John Smiths”… so we have instituted a process that relies on a PlusOne ID (or “Tech ID”). This gives a unique number to each individual, which they are fully aware of, and is used in many of the Customer’s platforms and systems as well, and reduces the need to surface names which may provide ethnic, gender, or other information.

 

3. Create a Custom Risk Relevancy Matrix Based on the Role
Each customer we work with provides a risk relevancy matrix that outlines which types of records are relevant to the role the individual will hold and when reviewing records, we use this guide to determine which are relevant. Since arrest records are treated differently than criminal convictions, we regularly work directly with the individual to ascertain the more detailed circumstances which surround an arrest or booking incident and are specifically looking to see the relevance of the issue and the presence of a formal charge or conviction that can be evaluated. This affords the individual an opportunity, even before the appeal process, to provide additional details that may be relevant to the review and consideration of an individual. The matrix removes the subjective decision-making process that can occur and allows an individualized assessment of the individual’s suitability for work in our customer’s network. The goal here is to recognize that while not everyone may be suitable for every job, this must be a risk-based decision based on the requirements of each job.

 

4. Sharing Only Relevant Information
When reviewing details of completed screenings, our team often have access to large amounts of demographic information on an individual – descriptors, tattoos, age, height or weight, complete legal names, gender, and possibly transgender situations. If the information is not relevant, it will be removed from the report and when the final report is provided, it contains only summary information with relevant details for the Customer. This again protects the individual, and our Customers, from inadvertently using irrelevant information for the decision at hand.

 

5. Managing the Submission and Use of Potentially Discriminating Information
The majority of the individuals being screened enter their information into a secure online system. The gathering of gender is not included but other items like address, DOB, previous address information, and other names, are captured and used by PlusOne Solutions in the screening process but not generally shared with the Customer.

When issuing reports, we also protect the individual’s full date of birth, and age so as not to unnecessarily disclose PII, but this also protects the individual and our Customers from using age in any of their decisions.

If there are situations where a name or gender change is identified, date of birth, or name requires clarification, or information is provided that may be considered incomplete, our standard process is to reach out to the individual to obtain the required details. This provides an opportunity for them to participate in the process, as well as clarify information that a purely automated, depersonalized approach would simply overlook.

This protects the individual’s information and again, creates a barrier between the Customer and what information they have, know, and can use in their process, and reduces the likelihood that the individual could be discriminated against. If the information is not available, it cannot be used to create a disparate impact.

 

6. Sensitivity to Gender
Communications, whether by email, regular post, or on the phone, contain a sensitivity to gender and use primarily the PlusOne ID, or in some cases we will use the individual’s name. In doing so, we do not confuse Whitney who is male, with a Whitney who may be female and do not rely on pronouns like “she/her” or “he/him” which may preserve the individual’s dignity concerning their gender identification preferences.

 

Our goals and commitment are not insignificant. By recognizing the value of each individual, we deliver on our goal to improve the world around us.

We work with our Customers, their service networks, and each individual being screened to ensure the criminal records review process followed promotes social change, specifically addresses the risk relevant to their work and role and respects their differing backgrounds.

It’s what we do, it’s what we have always done, and will continue to do in order to best serve you.

 

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel concerning their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.

 

 

About PlusOne Solutions

PlusOne Solutions has been an industry leader in the risk management field by specializing in compliance programs that meet the complex challenges of geographically dispersed contractors, vendors, and employee networks. PlusOne Solutions protects companies from possible financial, legal, and reputational risks associated with contractor and vendor relationships while creating safer work environments.

To learn more, visit http://www.PlusOneSolutions.net.

 

 

 

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State of the Service Industry: 3 Causes for Increased Demand

This past summer we have seen an unprecedented demand for in-home service resulting in backlogs of service requests and long waits before service can be performed including appliance repair, air conditioning service, or even product replacements and installation.

All the OEM, extended warranty, whole home warranty, or service companies we have spoken with have similar stories describing the state of the in-home service industry. Record service volumes, historic demands, and service backlogs of two to three weeks as the norm and in some areas, five to six weeks. Manufacturers with normal peak service seasons in the summer have described the 2020 season as a “peak-upon-a-peak”.

This trend is not anticipated to taper off or return to any past volumes for months, if not years.

COVID-19 is driving a backlog of service

In the early months of the pandemic, the service industry and manufacturers were preparing for potential disastrous 2020 as the economy came to a virtual standstill and the pandemic’s shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders emptied the stores, idled the workforce and stopped inventory flows around the world.

However, as the U.S. adapted to the new work-from-home norm, the service industry experienced a rapidly growing demand for in-home services; both in-warranty or out-of-warranty service. If the work-from-home would have only lasted a few weeks, then we may have not seen this demand for service. However, as offices, schools, and restaurants remained closed for weeks and then months, the household appliances which normally were idle during the day, were being used almost 24/7.

As early as June, call centers supporting the OEMs and warranty companies started seeing an increase in service requests. By July, many retailers and dealers were selling through their previously idled inventory of appliances. In August, demand for appliances outpaced the supply and replenishment of inventory. Each of these events started forming as the perfect storm which created the backlog of service.

“Repairing appliances is in high demand right now,” said Lance Kimball, owner of Appliance Repair Specialists in Tampa, Florida. “The largest competitor to an appliance repair company is an appliance replacement. Normally if an appliance repair company quotes a high repair price, the customer would replace the appliance over the repair. What is happening are appliance dealers do not have appliances to sell as the supply chain is broken due to COVID-19. In the early months [of the pandemic], consumers purchased appliances pulling sales from current inventory. When factories shut down due to COVID, product replenishment stopped, and parts produced in other countries needed to manufacture appliances or needed for service were not available. This shortage of parts is also causing a backlog of service.”

 

Three main causes for the current state of the in-home service industry:

 

  • Service Whiplash from the early COVID Shutdown

When the pandemic hit and the shelter-in-place orders started coming out, along with the economy, the service industry came to a standstill as everyone adjusted to being at home. Most consumers did not want anyone in their homes and many service company employees were fearful of providing service. However, appliances continued to need service, and this resulted in pent-up demand during April and May that was later felt in June and July.

 

  • High Product Usage = Higher Service

Appliances were getting far more use with everyone suddenly at home, the appliances are seeing higher usage rates and therefore higher service incidents. What was expected to be a “few weeks” has now extended over 6 months with no end in sight because many companies and employees have adjusted to a new work-from-home norm.

 

  • Sales Rebound

Every appliance OEM and Dealer we have spoken with are seeing record sales over the past few months and this demand is expected to continue well into 2021. The current backlog of product inventory is causing a high demand for out-of-warranty service and when the supply chain eventually catches up with consumer demand, the service industry will see an increase in in-warranty calls.

 

Other common factors have also played into the demand for service.

“We have had a record hot summer in most of the country that always bumps up business. I believe it will only pull back slightly for the fall and we will all have records again next summer if it continues to stay hot or appliances become scarcer to acquire,” said David Smith, owner of Dave Smith Appliance Services and Second Vice President of the United Appliance Servicers Association.

 

So, what is the outlook? In September, the service industry was still experiencing record demand for in-home service. As a result, service companies continue to see a backlog of service in most areas across the U.S. of two to three weeks and in some areas as far out as six weeks. The general expectation within the industry is that this trend will continue through the end of 2020 and possibly throughout 2021 as consumers and workforces adapt to the new work-from-home trends we have seen over the last six months.

The silver lining to the situation is there is increased demand for service personnel in an attractive and well-paying industry. As people look for new jobs in the post COVID economy, the appliance service industry is there.

 

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel concerning their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.

 

Questions or comments? We want to hear from you.


Certificate of Insurance Management for Small Businesses to Reduce Risk and Improve Compliance

PlusOne Solutions, a compliance and risk management solutions provider specializing in contractor networks, released a new Certificate of Insurance (COI) Management service for small businesses.

As an insurance compliance partner, PlusOne Solutions ensures a contractor network is fully compliant with a company’s insurance standards, reduces the risk associated with working with contractors who may have improper insurance coverage and improves overall network compliance rates.

Managing all the certificate of insurance documentation in-house often means file cabinets filled with outdated COIs and a lack of tracking, leading to increased risk and liability with an out-of-compliance contractor network. Unfortunately, buying or licensing a COI tracking system is usually cost-prohibitive for companies with less than 250 contractor COIs to manage. To fix this common pain point, PlusOne Solutions created a Starter package, which offers all the essential components of a successful insurance compliance program.

“We realized that small and medium-sized companies needed an affordable option to improve their certificate of insurance management program, in such a way that would add value,” said Sara Everett, Insurance & License Operations Manager at PlusOne Solutions. “We developed a new range of insurance-related services that provide varying levels of our efficiencies, support, and safeguards to enhance their current insurance management process. The best part is that as the company’s needs grow, PlusOne Solutions can grow with them.”

As companies expand over time, they can upgrade to either the Professional or Enterprise packages for additional features, such as more robust support, consulting, and reporting. The varying packages are flexible to cater to the needs of networks of all sizes, however, there are some fundamental features included as a standard across all three packages. Each option includes a secure, centralized repository for stored insurance documentation with 24/7 customer access, and data entry assistance. Additionally, PlusOne Solutions takes a proactive approach by reaching out to the insurance agent and company for deficient insurance requirements.

“For the past 15 years, PlusOne Solutions has been specializing in compliance practices for the unique needs of contractor networks,” said Craig Reilly, CEO & Founder of PlusOne Solutions. “Our new COI Management service for small businesses is yet another way we continue to adapt our solutions to the service industry’s unique needs, and we will continue to commit to serving the service industry through innovative solutions.”

To learn more about PlusOne Solutions’ COI Management services, visit https://www.plusonesolutions.net/solutions/insurance-management/

 

About PlusOne Solutions

PlusOne Solutions has been an industry leader in the risk management field by specializing in compliance programs that meet the complex challenges of geographically dispersed contractors, vendors, and employee networks. PlusOne Solutions protects companies from possible financial, legal, and reputational risks associated with contractor and vendor relationships while creating safer work environments. To learn more, visit http://www.PlusOneSolutions.net.

 

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PlusOne Solutions’ Michelle Leblond Announced as Chairperson of PBSA Board of Directors

Michelle Leblond, Executive Vice President of Compliance and Privacy at PlusOne Solutions, is the new Chairperson of the Professional Background Screening Association’s Board of Directors.

Her one-year term officially commenced following the formal announcement during the 2020 PBSA Annual Conference, which was held virtually this year.

After joining PBSA more than 10 years ago when the Canadian Chapter was forming, Michelle’s involvement with the organization has been both progressive and global in nature. She has worked at the Committee and Leadership level within the Canadian Chapter including leading the Government Relations Committee (Canada), as well as on the Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC), Global Advisory Council and Membership Committee before joining the Board more than five years ago. Her new role will be focused on the governance and oversight for the Association which counts over 815 member companies and 6,000 individual members around the globe.

“Being the first global Board Chair for our industry Association is an honor and a responsibility that I am excited to take on,” Michelle said. “The pace of technology, the importance of our work in protecting our workplaces, homes, and communities, and the evolution of regulation, demands a dedicated and passionate advocate to represent our members and work with an equally talented Board of Directors. I welcome the opportunity to bring the same energy and motivation I have shown in my work at PlusOne Solutions to PBSA as it continues to realize its mission to become the trusted global authority for the screening profession. I am privileged to support an Association whose mission it is to advance excellence in the screening profession and my unique combination of operational, technical, data privacy and compliance skills make PBSA well suited to deliver on our strategic goals to educate, advocate and impact legislation in the best interests of our members.”

In addition to her 25 years of experience in the background screening industry, Michelle is also a current member of Human Resources Professionals Association (Ontario), Society for Human Resource Management, and International Association of Privacy Professionals. She also holds Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) designations in both the U.S. and Canada.

“The PlusOne Solutions team is honored that Michelle has honed her experience and drive to lead PBSA to new heights in which every organization in our industry will benefit,” said Craig Reilly, Founder and CEO of PlusOne Solutions. “With Michelle’s leadership and her knowledge of the global stage, Michelle energized our company by developing new programs to raise our compliance, privacy, and security disciplines and driving us to meet the highest standards in the industry. We’re excited to see just how high Michelle can elevate our industry through her role with PBSA.”

 

About PlusOne Solutions

For more than 15 years, PlusOne Solutions has been an industry leader in the risk management field by specializing compliance programs that meet the complex challenges of geographically dispersed contractors, vendors, and employee networks. PlusOne Solutions protects companies from possible financial, legal, and reputational risks associated with contractor and vendor relationships while creating safer work environments for everyone and is an Accredited Background Screening Agency by the Professional Background Screening Association.

 

About PBSA

Founded as a non-profit trade association in 2003, the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) was established to represent the interest of companies offering employment and tenant background screening services. Just as importantly, however, the initial members wanted to establish and promote a high level of ethics and performance standards for the screening industry. The Association currently represents over 815 member companies engaged in employment and tenant background screening across the United States. Member companies range from Fortune 100 companies to small local businesses, conducting millions of employment-related and tenant background checks each year as part of the hiring and leasing process. PBSA Member companies are defined as “consumer reporting agencies” pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and are regulated by both the FTC and CFPB.

 

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PlusOne Solutions Expanded Driver Record Search Service to Canada

PlusOne Solutions, a compliance and risk management solutions specializing in contractor networks, announced the expansion of their driving record search service to Canada*.

Officially called Motor Vehicle Reports (MVR), driving record searches provide companies the opportunity to confirm eligible drivers have an active license. Since anyone driving for a company could potentially put the organization at risk, MVRs help distinguish between safe drivers and potentially unsafe drivers.

“Before you let an employee or contractor get behind the wheel of a company car, it’s a good idea to run an MVR search to ensure they are a safe driver,” said Michelle Leblond, EVP of Compliance & Privacy at PlusOne Solutions.  “Expanding our driving record search service to Canada will allow our Customers to mitigate the risk of hiring and contracting drivers.”

The MVR search includes the class of the license, citation history, accident history, suspension information, license restrictions, and the current status of the driver’s license. The search scope changes depending on the individual jurisdiction; however, the search will go back at least three years but could potentially show more historical information depending on the province.

“We’re excited to offer our MVR search service in Canada and to continue helping more companies commit to safety on the road,” Leblond said.

*MVR Search is not available in Alberta.

 

About PlusOne Solutions

For more than 15 years, PlusOne Solutions has been an industry leader in the risk management field by specializing in compliance programs that meet the complex challenges of geographically dispersed contractors, vendors, and employee networks. PlusOne Solutions protects companies from possible financial, legal, and reputational risks associated with contractor and vendor relationships while creating safer work environments for everyone. To learn more, visit http://www.PlusOneSolutions.net.

 

For more company news, read the past announcements:

 

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel with respect to their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.

 

To receive these updates directly in your email inbox, sign up for the newsletter

 

Interested in learning more about our compliance services? Contact us at (877) 943-0100 or send us a message using the form below.