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COVID’s Effect on Employment Background Checks

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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced background checks to go virtual more than ever before. But are those changes safe and effective? Is your HR department or your staffing firm making the right pivots to keep you on track? A guide by Sterling (a background and identity services provider) and Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) called Beyond COVID-19: The Future of Background Screening & Identity Verification explores those questions.

The guide points out recent developments and best practices in background screening and identity verification that are emerging, some due to increased technology and regulation changes, and others because of the unique challenges the pandemic has caused.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated how innovative solutions have harnessed technology to improve the background screening process, optimizing speed and safety rather than forcing staffing companies to make difficult choices between the two. However, the pandemic has also exposed where there are still gaps,” the guide authors write. Some of these areas of pros and cons include:

  • Changes reflecting new regulations and increased class action suits involving the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and discrimination suits from the EEOC as well as a growing patchwork of state and local laws.
  • Advancements in the use of biometrics in identity verification, end-to-end digitization in criminal checks and drug test reporting, and blockchain for credentialing.
  • Advances in identity verification and criminal checks. “Technology now allows for identity to be confirmed remotely and in less than two minutes, in the process informing other parts of the screening process,” the guide points out.
  • The need for background screening to be faster and more accurate due to a sudden and urgent need for staff in certain pockets within healthcare, distribution, and retail.
  • The trend toward more remote work and screening services that can be provided remotely, as in-person elements of background screening (county courthouses that still require “runners,” I-9, fingerprinting, and drug tests performed in labs) remain problematic.

The full report can be accessed here. If you’ve changed the way you hire or the types of employees you hire, or you’ve hit roadblocks in background checking that you’re unsure how to overcome, consult a recruiting partner like The HT Group that has been working through these emerging issues for months. We’re here to help.


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