Conducting background checks on prospective employees is a standard operating procedure for most companies. However, in today’s environment where social media and public sensitivity can turn a small incident into a public relations nightmare, companies have also started looking more closely at their largest pool of risk – by rescreening their existing employees.
Almost 50% of companies are incorporating some form of monitoring or periodic background checks on their existing employees – and for a good reason. While it may seem counter-intuitive, long-term employees can face situations or lifestyle changes that can impact behavior, or worst yet, trigger workplace violence.
A survey by Appriss, the leading provider of incarceration data, found that 12% of individuals that are currently employed will be arrested in the next five years. This statistic jumps to 20% when extending the measurement to seven years.
"...gunshots were fired."
"Panic set in when I saw blue flashing lights and the 11-Alive News truck parked in front of our building,” said one Human Resources Manager who received a 4 AM emergency call about a possible drug deal that had gone bad at his Company’s operations facility.
“Fortunately, no one was hurt, but gunshots were fired, and the commotion virtually shut down the 1,200-person facility for most of the day. It took a couple of hours working with the police to find out exactly what happened.”
The Company’s night manager was storing drugs above the ceiling tiles in his office and then using the back-loading area to make the drug transactions. “Ironically, we have a very secure facility with guards at the front gate, but no one ever thought it was odd that our Manager, who had been with us for more than five years, was frequently getting visitors in the middle of the night.”
Upon further investigation, the Company discovered the Manager and one other employee had recent convictions and arrests for drug-related crimes. “We run a secure facility and are very thorough in our hiring practices, so this incident hit us hard,” said the HR site Manager, who asked that all names kept confidential.
There is no perfect solution for establishing rescreening programs, but there are several cost-effective best practices that can be easily implemented.
Some companies limit rescreening programs to include only employees who are being considered for higher-level positions (dealing with money, financial information, or confidential data). Whereas more risk-averse companies tend to periodically rescreen all employees to mitigate risks and ensure reasonable steps have been taken to provide a safe and productive work environment.
“Before starting a rescreening program, employers should be aware the same FCRA authorization and disclosure rules used for pre-employment screening still apply to annual rescreens,” explains Katie Robinson, Corporate Counsel for ESS.
HR professionals should make any necessary disclosures and ensure they have a current and valid consent form on file for the employee. That consent form can be an ‘evergreen’ version or one that is valid only for a specific rescreen.