Today, gig economy platforms have become the latest business boom in the US.
This umbrella term is used to describe technology companies that have built platforms, like rideshare apps, that deliver quick and seemingly safe services.
Simply put, gig economy companies play matchmaker between individuals that wish to offer their service (a car ride, for example) and consumers in need of such service.
However, there is one major concern about these services:
Do gig economy independent contractors receive verified background checks?
In this article, we will discuss:
Keep reading to find out how verified background checks will keep customers safe and reduce company liability.
Gig economy platforms have transformed our society in tremendous ways. With the press of a button, we can have a car ride waiting at our door, food delivered in a dash, or access to hundreds of house sitters and handymen.
While the popular rideshare companies are the most well-known gig economy platforms, the trend has also spread to dog walkers, house sitters, in-home healthcare, handymen, nannies, and just about any other area you can think of.
However, there is one major concern that the gig economy must face:
Good news: most gig economy platforms do recognize this and advertise background checks as a part of their vetting process. However, are they conducting the best criminal background checks?
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always a definitive yes.
Companies often feel the pressure to:
That being said, many organizations take short cuts with background checks.
On one hand, this is due to the lack of education on the types of checks available.
On the other hand, some gig economy platforms may make a very deliberate decision to run quick, inexpensive, and less than comprehensive checks – just to say a screening has been done.
Typically, gig economy workers undergo a national criminal database check. They may also undergo a sex offender registry search and a driving record check, if applicable for the role.
Sounds pretty thorough, right?
Well, not always. These searches are mainly instant database checks. In other words, they are not comprehensive, detailed background checks that exude diligence. Instead, they are fast, cheap, and get the job done.
And what’s more?
With the volume of individuals in need of qualifying background checks on the rise, companies have sacrificed quality to keep costs down.
Unfortunately, since the United States does not offer a single national criminal history repository, the NATCRIM search will oftentimes miss large numbers of important records.
Furthermore, many jurisdictions don’t actually report into databases. In fact, they may only report limited information on incarceration records.
Of the records that are returned, many have:
As you can see, this can lead to a series of unwanted problems!
So, what is the alternative solution?
Companies that truly care about protecting their customers should set a higher standard for their background checks. Through the creation of more robust requirements, gig economy platforms should screen their independent contractors with:
These searches tend to increase the depth and breadth of criminal background checks. For example, a county-level background check will screen where the individual has resided for a set number of years, most often seven.
In addition, identity and federal level searches may provide a list of other names identified, be they alias names, previous names or other developed names, with the potential employee or contractor. This vital information will improve the reliability of the background check.
But that’s not all!
By ensuring up-to-date and reliable details of each search intent, companies can also improve compliance with state and federal consumer reporting laws – an area not to be taken lightly.
These qualities are all very advantageous for both the company and the customers.
Here’s the bottom line:
Quick, cheap database checks are NOT adequate enough to protect the consumer or relieve you of liability.
While thorough criminal background checks are more expensive, the results are reliable and can save a company’s reputation. Not to mention, protect its greatest asset – the customers!
This is why it’s so important to practice ethical screening practices. Companies can reduce the likelihood of incidents BEFORE they happen.
So what is the best background check solution for companies with a high volume of independent contractors?
Founded in 2005, PlusOne Solutions is a Nationally Accredited Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) that seeks to help organizations with large networks of independent contractors. PlusOne Solutions mitigate risks through:
Through a reliable and verified background check plan, companies can reduce employee, contractor, and vendor risk.
A simple contractor screening solution can improve the safety of the users of gig economy platforms. And the best part: screening will also reduce company liability.
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 services.
Michelle Leblond is the Executive Vice President of Compliance and Privacy for PlusOne Solutions. With almost 25 years of industry experience, Michelle is one of the industry’s foremost experts on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and issues affecting the background screening industry. In addition to her role at PlusOne Solutions, she is currently Chair-Elect for the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA).