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6 Ways The Contractor Background Verification Process Has Evolved

Background Screening | January 3, 2022
Contractor Background

The adage reads, “the more things change…the more they stay the same.” While the contractor background verification process has certainly changed over the decades, the main purpose for conducting these checks – risk mitigation – has remained constant. This blog will explore the changes the industry has seen over time and we’ll underscore why these changes have been important.

Inclusion of Contractors in the Screening Process

Decades ago, contractors – those individuals used as an extension of an organization’s workforce – were considered someone else’s problem. This meant the oversight and background verification of their suitability was not a consideration for the organization looking to engage them. With increased litigation, specifically around negligent engagement, organizations were beginning to be held accountable for these individuals. 

Further, as the organization typically has bigger pockets than the smaller company the contractor may work for, any issue becomes an immediate target for litigators looking for large, reputation-protecting settlements. Contractors are no longer seen as separate and distinct from the organizations they work for and as a result, organizations have been forced to take responsibility for knowing whom they engage.

What has resulted is programs by organizations to ensure they limit risk and reduce their liability exposure by setting standards for those they engage. This ensures that criminal, driving, sex offender, and identities of the contractors are verified before the organization may consider including them in their service network. The focus with these efforts is on risk, versus the more common human resource requirements an employment screening would entail.

Access to Information

As technology continues to drive the economy, the access to information, and speed with which this access can be achieved, has encouraged many organizations to create robust and consistent screening programs. When an issue arises due to a contractor’s actions, organizations can no longer say “well, how would I have known?” Access to information to make informed decisions is easier than ever and is not cost-prohibitive and is quickly becoming an expectation held by organizations.

Adherence to Ban The Box and Fair Chance Regulations

As initiatives span the nation related to the reintegration of previously convicted felons, the requirements for accommodating criminal records have likewise risen in importance. Specifically, any adverse action taken against a contractor, as a result of their criminal record history, must be seen as relevant to the role they would perform, it may require the option for additional consideration or individualized assessment, and encourages organizations to very closely review the nature of the information. 

Understanding the statistics around the volume of individuals with criminal records, the need for workers in today’s economy and the reality that many records should not be barriers to gainful employment, these initiatives play an important role.

Expectation from Consumers and Homeowners 

Based on research conducted by MindSpot data by PlusOne Solutions, overContractor Background 85% of homeowners expected that if an individual was sent into their home, they had been background screened. Allowing a stranger into your most intimate and private spaces carries undeniable risk and being able to demonstrate your organization is taking steps to protect those individuals will be favorably received by those who purchase from you. 

On balance, people understand mistakes happen but being able to demonstrate due diligence and being able to articulate specific steps and programs that strive to reduce the risk for homeowners may help to reduce risk and claims should an incident arise.

As more and more services are now being offered in-home, delivered to homes, or otherwise exposing individuals, the expectation that those they work with are background checked will continue to be important.

Requirement for Contractors to Pay for the Screening

Years ago, one of the arguments for not conducting background verifications on contractors was that it was costly and that organizations did not want the full details of the background check in their possession. Considering the information in the consumer report belongs to the individual contractor, and they, and their servicing company, if applicable, would benefit if the check is acceptable to the organization, asking them to absorb the expense is becoming more common. 

This also helps organizations defray the cost of a contractor background verification program and roll out a consistent standard and screening scope across everyone in their network.

Addition of County Criminal Record Monitoring

A relatively new offering on the background verification front is the proactive option to monitor arrest, booking, or incarceration events at the county court level. The ability to monitor risks as they arise can provide a significant and added level of protection for organizations that manage service networks. This is an extension of the comment above related to the improvement in access and progress of technology which has put important information in the hands of organizations to make decisions and effectively manage their brand and reputation.

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All these changes have combined to create an environment where requesting background verification on contractors is no longer a unique requirement or difficult conversation but, rather, an expectation that is known to contractors who do work for organizations. 

As with any people-focused process, the evolution is not done and at PlusOne Solutions, Inc., we will continue to monitor and adjust to the innovations and changes that lie ahead. For more information on how our services can help your organization, fill out our online contact form today.

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.

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 https://www.PlusOneSolutions.net.

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