May 12, 2020
A webinar hosted by members of the background screening industry focused on reopening American businesses and topics employers should consider.
The webinar began by discussing the difference between layoffs and furloughs. It provided two simple definitions:
• Layoffs are indefinite and often permanent breaks in employment.
• Furloughs are temporary pauses in employment without pay, but with the expectation that employment will resume.
Presenters noted that at this point in the pandemic, 26 million Americans are unemployed and another 18 million are furloughed.
Most states have implemented social distancing and “Shelter in Place” laws. As a result, many businesses were required to temporarily shut down or adjust the way they provide goods and services. Some states are relaxing those laws and permitting more organizations to resume operations. People throughout the country are preparing to return to work in the coming weeks.
Each state has unique regulations for reopening. In most cases, there are defined phases for this process. Webinar presenters stressed that every employer must be well-prepared to handle their transition and help ensure it is fair, consistent and as safe as possible for everyone.
The webinar hosts discussed subjects employers should examine before rehiring furloughed employees. A few included:
Crime. While some locations have reported a decrease in criminal activities, perhaps due to people staying at home, other areas have seen spikes in violent and other serious crimes. Employers may wish to run comprehensive criminal background checks before bringing furloughed individuals back to the workplace. This can include county, state, national and federal criminal searches that cover the time an employee was out of work.
State Laws. Several states have passed legislation related to the pandemic. Employers were urged to consult legal counsel to determine if any such laws affect them.
Drug Usage. Some states have reported an increase in drug usage and related crimes. Employers may need to consult with counsel when developing plans for running drug tests on returning staff.
Time. Employees may have been furloughed for a few days or several weeks. That amount of time could affect the scope of background checks conducted before people reenter the workplace. Employers should also be aware of and compliant with any industry regulations regarding background screening requirements.
Job descriptions will be changing for many people. As businesses reopen, employees might have an updated list of duties that include tasks such as loading goods into vehicles or visiting the homes of customers.
The webinar suggested employers run background checks that meet due diligence requirements based on updated responsibilities for each position. This can involve comprehensive criminal checks to help determine if each person is deemed safe and reliable before they are allowed to have direct contact with consumers. If an employee is not properly screened and commits a crime while on-duty, their employer could face a negligent hiring lawsuit or other repercussions.
If your organization is reopening, then you likely have many new things to consider. This can be a good time to review your policies and amend them as necessary to accommodate changes we are all experiencing.
When you’re ready to run background checks that help you make informed decisions and create safe workplaces, please contact us. Our team is available to assist you Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm PT.