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on August 07, 2020 Human Resources Employment Background Screening Hiring and Recruiting

Can Employers Run Background Checks on Remote Employees?

Background Checks on Remote Employees

As the pandemic continues across the world, employers are choosing to keep their offices closed and encouraging their staff to work remotely. In recent months, employers have made telecommuting accommodations by implementing new technology, expanding their remote recruiting strategies and facing new challenges head on. One such challenge is the notion of hiring and pre-employment background screening new remote applicants. When in-person work was the norm, background checks were the status quo. Are they still as important?

Can employers run background checks on remote employees?

Considerations When Hiring Remote Employees

Just as an employer must consider the cost of a bad hire, hiring bad remote employees comes with the same consequences. As an example, some of the costs of a bad hire include:

  • Any fees associated with recruiting, including advertising, time and the salary of recruiters
  • The time, cost and security measures taken to onboard and train a new employee, especially remotely with supplying technology and access to internal systems
  • Turnover costs, if the employee quits or is terminated and needs to be replaced
  • Loss of productivity, employee morale, damage to company reputation and loss of customers
  • Negligent hiring damages including harm to the business, other staff or customers 

When hiring remote employees, the hiring manager must not only consider what they would normally look for in a great hire but also telecommuting requirements and how to be a good team member. Some questions to consider include:

  • What tech requirements are necessary to work remotely and stay connected to the team?
  • How comfortable and self-motivated is the employee working remotely? Will they still be communicative to management and trustworthy to their colleagues?
  • How is the workplace still incorporating culture and connectedness to remote staff?

See also: Signs and Costs of Hiring the Wrong Person

How Remote Employment Background Checks Are Different

Hiring remote employees should not be that different from hiring on premise employees, with a few exceptions:

Employers MUST be sure to adhere to both Federal FCRA and State FCRA regulations.

The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is normally considered during a hiring process that is compliant to regulations. Things get tricky when the remote employee is in a different state than where an employer's primary office is located.

If the remote employee will be working in another state, the employer should be aware of state FCRA regulations specific to where the employee is located. State FCRA laws may be stricter than the federal FCRA and include differences related to credit reporting or the amount of time criminal records are allowed on a consumer report. 

As a general rule of thumb, VeriFirst recommends applying FCRA compliance filters that adhere to the employer's state’s and the employee's state's rules and regulations. If there is any conflict, we advise our clients to follow the stricter of the two states.

Free: Online Applicant Consent PortalVeriFirst has a process specifically designed to help employers hiring employees in remote locations. During the online application and consent, we capture both the employer’s primary address and the employees primary address. Next, we implement FCRA filtering based on those two states and ensure the stricter of the two is always followed.

When hiring remote employees, HR and hiring managers are wise to revisit hiring processes and employee manuals to ensure new policies and procedures are applicable. Background checks are also still imperative to hiring a quality, trustworthy employee who works remotely. Consider VeriFirst Background Screening for nearly two decades of expertise, FCRA compliance and online technology that's useful for hiring remote employees.

Ryan Howard

Vice President, Business Development at VeriFirst, a BYL Company

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