Maintaining Hiring Compliance on a Thin Budget

The COVID-19 pandemic has put hiring and talent management programs front and center, as many employees across nearly every industry have been impacted by remote work, furloughs, and layoffs. To stay afloat, many organizations are continually reshaping staffing plans and may need to make further budget adjustments as 2021 unfolds.


For HR teams anticipating a smaller budget, the need to protect the workplace from harmful risks remains. For the sake of employees, patients, customers, and your organization’s reputation, you still need to make well-informed hiring decisions while staying in compliance with hiring and labor laws. After all, cutting back on costs related to background screening will only cost you more in the long run if it leads to a bad hire or an unproductive employee.

Saving dollars doesn’t have to equate to lower quality or risky hires. Take the following steps to maintain hiring compliance and make great hires on a tight budget.

Review Your Current Screening Program

Before you consider cutting back on specific aspects of your background screening program, step back and perform a holistic review of your existing program. It costs nothing to evaluate your current screening processes, and your background screening provider should have resources in place to help you monitor your program and identify opportunities for better cost-efficiency.

Reviewing your current screening program helps you distinguish between must-have screening services and those you can afford to put on pause. For example, healthcare employers that conduct license verifications for all licenses held by a candidate may decide to limit verifications to job-specific licenses only.

By checking a nursing candidate’s nursing license but not his or her physician’s assistant license, you can achieve savings and potentially speed up the screening process, as well. Another possible area for savings is drug screening. Given changing marijuana laws, you may decide to streamline your drug testing program and remove marijuana testing for some or all positions.

Leverage Efficient Technology

Today’s background screening technology allows you to conduct a broad range of screening activities without the need for duplicate efforts or manual inputs. By seeking efficient screening technology solutions, you can do more without spending more.

For example, continuous workforce monitoring technology makes it possible to get up-to-the-minute updates on employee license sanctions and activity. By leveraging better technology, you get more timely updates about workforce activity at a potentially lower price than monthly or quarterly batch screening.

Efficient screening technology also makes it easier to request background checks and review results so you can build more efficiency into the hiring process and improve your time-to-hire metrics. With screening technology offered by a reputable provider, you can take the following actions:

  • Make bulk background check requests in a few clicks rather than submitting each request separately.
  • Use e-disclosure and authorization forms to maintain compliance with Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements.
  • Get alerts when background check results are ready for review or require follow-up action.
  • Use paperless drug screening with self-scheduling features for candidates.

Develop a Plan for Rescreening Former Employees

To save on hiring costs, your organization may choose to rehire former employees affected by job cuts in the early months of the pandemic. Former employees are already familiar with the work and your organizational culture, and they can hit the ground running quicker than a brand-new hire.

Bringing back former employees also helps you save on recruiting costs. However, returning employees to the workplace after an extended absence carries some risk because those employees could have engaged in activities that will affect their rehire eligibility.

A Case Western Reserve University study found that employees experienced a higher risk for criminal acts, violent traffic offenses, and drug-related activity in the year following a layoff. Those who took temporary employment elsewhere could also have new disciplinary action on their professional license. But you won’t be aware of these new developments in your returning workforce unless you screen for them.

Though you will need to dedicate a portion of your background check budget to rescreening former employees, the investment will probably pale in comparison to the cost of lawsuits or compliance penalties associated with rehiring a former employee who causes harm in the workplace.

Follow Best-Practice Recommendations

To make the most of a thin budget, it’s essential to follow best practices for screening according to your industry and organizational needs. Rather than taking a “check the box” approach and applying the available background screening services to every candidate, you can realize savings by aligning services to each job category’s risk profile.

For example, positions with access to patients, heavy machinery, or harmful chemicals are higher-risk and require extensive drug and health screening. In contrast, other positions may be lower-risk and not require drug screening at all.

Following best practices also allows you to identify compliance gaps, which, if left unchecked, could result in noncompliance fines or lawsuits. An experienced background screening provider can help you stay informed about best practices so you have assurance that your screening program is doing enough to uncover actionable background information for candidates and employees.

Effective Screening Despite a Limited Budget

Every organization has different goals, risks, and job types, and one size does not fit all when it comes to selecting the right background screening services for your organization. Working on a tight budget doesn’t mean you can’t continue protecting your workforce.

By partnering with your screening provider to evaluate your current program, address hiring and rehiring risks, and apply best practices for your industry, you can stay in compliance with applicable laws and avoid risky hires.

Matt Jaye is Vice President of Business Development for Corporate Screening in Cleveland, Ohio. Jaye, a member of the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), has been with Corporate Screening for more than 20 years. Corporate Screening was founded in 1987 as an investigative firm and has evolved over the years to provide a comprehensive background check solution, emphasizing both innovative technology and uncompromising human effort. A trusted resource for HR teams across the nation, Corporate Screening’s investigative legacy is central to its products and services.

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