Background Checks and Covid-19

April 28, 2021

For Background Checks, COVID-19 Effects Linger

One year ago, we were settling into our makeshift offices in corners of our homes. Meetings suddenly included random dog barks, kid-photobombs, and home wifi connectivity issues. But what about now? How have things changed since so many have adapted to working from home? As we return to offices, it’s all too easy to forget how different everything was just last year. When it comes to background checks, there are constant reminders of how much COVID-19 impacted our industry.

Not all courts are open all the time

While our background check turnaround times are returning to normal (one to two business days), some counties are still experiencing court closures — with no opening date in sight. With cases on the rise in certain areas, plenty of places are still taking necessary precautions to stop the spread, which could, unfortunately, slow the process of research. An easy way to combat this is to provide middle names, driver’s license numbers, or other additional identifiers to assist in speeding along the validation process. For the most part, however, we are at the mercy of the courts when we feel there are questions of accuracy in criminal records.

How Employers Adapted

Due to court closures, more companies are taking a look at their policies. The most common recent update is making employment offers contingent on a background check, allowing employers to staff despite possible delays in research. Additionally, companies are revising the timeframe that for records searches, choosing seven years, ten years, or more. Employers say their reasoning is simple: an arrest from the ’90s would not deter them from hiring, therefore less court-provided research is needed.

Drug screening became less of a priority.

Across America, as labs have re-assigned staff for COVID-19 testing, drug testing was under new pressure. Many applicants expressed their discomfort with traveling to multiple facilities prior to being hired, but particularly a laboratory that also conducts testing for a virus that nobody wanted to contract. The result was a decrease in drug testing.

How Employers Adapted

Employers reconsidered protocols and many decided to forgo the drug screening or offer remote fluid screening, which could be done from the comfort of home. Others still feel the need for traditional drug screening performed in a lab, but are opting for a digital chain of custody, which we can help you with.

Verifications aren’t so easy anymore

Before the pandemic, verifying employment and education was as simple as picking up the phone and asking the right questions. Today, our calls often go returned, and faxes not even received. The truth is that some staff are working remotely and do not have the information readily available, resulting in a delay, or in some cases, no response at all.

Our Hope

As more Americans are vaccinated, companies will return to normal operations, and therefore, the completion of verifications will be restored, too.

Focus on accuracy to avoid litigation

Because of court closures and high unemployment rates, HR pros will likely see a higher incidence of litigation in the coming years, emerging from applicants who lost out on a job due to an inaccurate background check. If your background screening vendor is boasting quicker turnaround times, it may be in your best interest to inquire about how they’re validating records – if they are at all. It may be frustrating to wait a little bit longer for screening results, but you can rest assured that Atlantic is operating as normal with multi-factor validation for criminal records. If you need to know more about how our system delivers accuracy, you can reach out to us by chat, email, or phone.

Want to read more?

Check out this article by Roy Maurer at SHRM: Know Before You Hire: 3 Employee Screening Trends in 2021