Clear and Transparent Background Screening Programs Help Protect Companies, Networks and Consumers

Background Screening | August 12, 2020

Rolling out a background screening requirement as part of your Contractor Compliance Program is only successful if it is understood, transparent, effective, and adhered to. Recent news has again highlighted the challenges that can arise when background screening programs are too complex, misrepresented, or rely on an “honor system,” versus independent validation, to demonstrate compliance. Further, if your organization is asked by the media, an attorney, or even an individual being screened about your program, you better be sure you have answers at the ready. The past 15 years of working with thousands of contractor servicing companies has taught us a few things that we would like to share.

Background screening is a key component to a Contractor Compliance Program, but if you can’t prove it was done, the program loses its value.

If those responsible for the program cannot explain or verify the program’s effectiveness, the ensuing reputational, operational, and litigation risks can be insurmountable. Compounding this confusion and lack of knowledge is the detrimental impact such an issue can have on consumer confidence for your organization. There is a definitive expectation by consumers that when they engage with a known organization – retailer, manufacturer or servicing company – they will be safe. This extends from the known entity, through to all their contracted partners.

Offering complicated packages or searches that will not meet the needs of the contract help no one. Not only are there federal and state laws that govern the clear disclosure to the individual being screened of what and why searches are being done, but also companies can’t just claim screenings are being done. Companies need to be able to provide definitive proof that background screenings have been done.

When setting up a background screening program, a Customer will establish the key searches and requirements that must be met, such as:

Understanding the benefits of the different services, what information they do or do not contain, and their proper definitions are an important part of establishing a successful compliance program. A formal compliance program should be structured to ensure the required screenings are conducted and individuals are screened to the correct requirements. To read more about our screening components, check out our article Anatomy of a Background Check.

Clear communications at the outset of the Compliance Program to ensure compliance, and then proactive notices to ensure continued compliance according to the needed rescreen schedule are two valuable ways to strengthen your program.

Define ‘Background Screening’

To simply say “all our techs are background checked” leaves a lot to the imagination. The average individual isn’t likely to know the different types of background searches , so it is incumbent on the company claiming to do background screens to be clear, descriptive, and open about how they define background screening.

About 90 percent of homeowners assume in-home service providers passed a background check, according to a survey conducted by Mindspot Research. While the general expectation is that consumers expect anyone coming into their home to have been background screened, hanging your hat on that assumption is not an acceptable approach for any company. Clear and readily available descriptions of exactly which background checks are conducted on a service network are the best approach to guard against misrepresentation or misunderstanding when it comes to background screening. Understanding the role the individual will hold and whether they will be in consumer homes and unsupervised will also impact the nature and type of background screening.

Transparency is Key

The correct consumer reporting agency partner should provide transparency to all players in the contracting lifecycle – the Customer, the contracting company, the individual, and even the consumer – to see the status of a screening. The nature of the searches being conducted, as well as what is required and what is optional, is clearly outlined for the individuals being screened so they are aware of what will be done and can relay that information to anyone who may ask. Working with service networks on the rescreen schedule to ensure screenings are redone at the appropriate timeframe and there is no lapse in coverage should be a joint effort between your organization and any partner you engage with. Any partner should also provide sufficient written materials and support to help you explain your program, answer questions about the searches you do, and remain responsive to any queries.

Know your program, follow your program, and enforce your program – that is the best way to have a successful Compliance Program.

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.

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