When Continuous Screening Makes Sense
One of the growing trends in HR is the policy of continuous screening of employees. Continuous screening, or post-hire monitoring as it’s sometimes called, is the act of periodic checks to assure that employees remain reliable and the company stays safe.
As the name suggests, continuous screening means employees must approve, up-front, of ongoing background checks as a condition of employment. This means employees who agree to the policy will be subject to firing if the company finds out they did something untoward—i.e. something the company would have looked askance at if the employee had such a record in her background prior to being hired.
If you agree this is a good idea, you’re not alone. After all, people change. Sometimes the predilection (even the activity) was there to begin with and the employee just hadn’t been caught. Business climates change, too, as do personal circumstances. There are all sorts of reasons an employee who started out looking like a safe bet might not stay that way.
By the same token, if you get the uncomfortable feeling that continuous monitoring is fraught with pitfalls, your feelings are justified. Which is why you should bring on board an experienced, highly professional background-screening company like The Hire Authority (508- 230-5901; www.hireauth.com). A company like Hire Authority understands the pros and cons of ongoing monitoring of employees, and can help protect your company without any adverse consequences.
Continuous screening usually works like this: the employer gets the written permission of the new hire to conduct periodic background checks in addition to the initial screening. Then from time to time—bi-annually or annually usually seems sensible—a new background screening is conducted. It can be limited to certain areas, such as criminal background, or it can be all encompassing, depending on the employer.
There are many instances where continuous screening is not only justified, but perhaps even crucial. Here are just a few examples:
- Criminal cases – just because an employee had a clean criminal background when hired doesn’t mean she will always stay out of trouble. If she does run afoul of the law, it may have a big impact on her ability to do her job. For example, what if a recent reckless driving charge turns up on your delivery driver’s record? Or an assault charge is levied against your daycare worker? You might not ever know about it because often cases are settled without a conviction—and without ever hitting the newspapers.
- Missed information – sometimes information is missed the first time around. It does happen. Most of the time it might mean nothing because the new hire has since demonstrated competence and a good work ethic. On the other hand, what if that employee claimed to have a Masters Degree from an Ivy League school? The original background check may have proven she attended that same school in the same years she stated on her resume, and that she received a post-graduate education there. However, a future check turns up information that raises a red flag. You investigate further and discover she only attended a seminar or certificate program at that school, not a Masters Level curriculum. Does it matter if she’s doing a good job? It very well could, as MIT found out a few years back in a similar situation. The point is, if credentials are that important for the company’s credibility, making sure what’s on the resume is fact and not fudge is crucial.
- Evolving conflict of interest: After hire, an employee may find herself in a conflict of interest and never report it to her employee. One extreme example would be where her spouse takes a new job with a direct competitor. Is your employee still able to do her job without any outside pressure? It may depend on the particular position. For example, if your employee and her spouse are both in sales, and the spouse’s company competes in the same market, this could become uncomfortable.
Thus background checks can be a very useful tool for picking up on something important that might not otherwise be known. For companies eager to keep a safe record and clean reputation, it’s an important part of the overall secure workplace plan.
Yet ongoing monitoring is not without its pitfalls. If the plan isn’t carried out correctly, a company can be accused of running afoul of state or federal laws. Firing an employee could end up in a wrongful termination suit if the information on which the firing is based isn’t accurate. How background checks are done is just as important as when.
For a company that sees the utility in background checks, these pitfalls should not be a deterrent. Especially where high-level employees–and even low-level ones with an opportunity to do damage–can bring the company down or tarnish its image for years to come. Your best bet is to consult a reputable background investigation firm like The Hire Authority and learn how they will keep you safe and not add to your risk.
So start protecting your company today. Call The Hire Authority at (508) 230-5901, or visit their website at www.hireauth.com for a no-obligation free consultation. You’ll be glad you did.
The foregoing should not be construed as legal advice. Employers should always consult their own legal counsel for advice on labor and employment matters.
Author: Michael Cormier