Do Remote Workers Need to be Screened?

Do Remote Workers Need to be Screened?

By Tricia O'Connor

What do the healthcare, technology, and manufacturing industries have in common right now? They are hiring thousands of workers to meet a sharp spike in demand because of the COVID-19 crisis. Many of these positions are remote – or WFH (work from home).

But do remote workers need to be screened as thoroughly as employees who report to the office? Or is now the time to relax your background check requirements to get people into WFH positions faster?

Here are some do’s and don’ts to safely and swiftly onboard new remote employees.

Do Create WFH Positions

In just a few weeks, COVID-19 has affected our short-term economy and changed our workforce. While some employers are struggling to stay afloat, others are getting innovative to keep existing workers or hire new employees. Many businesses who are trying to meet this demand are boosting their numbers of remote or WFH workers.

The latest data from Global Workplace Analytics, a research and consulting firm, shows 5 million employees (3.6% of the workforce) worked from home at least half-time in 2018. Forty-three percent of workers telecommuted sometimes, according to a 2016 Gallup survey.  

While this remote hiring binge is in response to a short-term event, it may have long-term benefits for businesses and employees. A 2019 study of remote workers found they are happier and more loyal to their companies. Another study shows remote employees are more productive and work more days each year.

It’s too soon in this new coronavirus economy to know how many employees are remote or who have transitioned to WFH positions. But we do know many of the jobs being posted right now are for remote positions. 

ICYMI: How should you handle hiring during a pandemic? Click here for the answer.

Do Perform Background Checks

Hiring employees for remote positions takes a different set of interviewing and onboarding skills, however, there is one standard piece of pre-employment screening that should not change – a background check.

A background check is one of the most effective recruiting tools you can use to maintain a safe and compliant workforce. Conducting a background check should be part of any standard hiring procedure; the same rule applies for remote workers. Pre-employment screening can help your business:

  • Protect its brand and reputation from bad employees
  • Save time and money by reducing turnover
  • Mitigate risk and practice due diligence
  • Confirm a candidate’s credentials and honesty

Don’t DIY Social Media

When you need to fill jobs quickly, you may be tempted to skip some of the available background check solutions. This only makes sense if these checks don’t apply to an employee’s specific role at your business. For example, you may not need to perform an MVR check for positions that don’t require driving.

Social media often falls into this category. Many people feel it’s easier and cheaper to examine a candidate’s social media themselves. This is especially true for remote employees, where there is an unfounded stereotype they spend more time on social than in-office workers.

Conducting social media checks without proper training is risky, cost-heavy, and filled with holes. You can unknowingly violate regulations set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and General Data Protection Regulation. We produced a must-watch video series on the pitfalls of DIY social screening featuring Philadelphia employment law expert Jonathan Segal and Screening News Network’s Jennifer Gladstone. Click here for Parts One and Two.

An EBI Social Screening Report is compliant, accurate, and actionable.

Don’t Skip Form I-9

Hiring remotely has also created some challenges to filling out the Form I-9, which is a federal requirement for all new hires. The most difficult provision is filling out Section Two, since it requires you to examine a new hire’s documents in person.

For the next 60 days – or until the national emergency is over – you can inspect the documents virtually over teleconferencing apps like Zoom or Skype. However, as soon as the state of emergency is lifted, employers must review the documents for all the hires made during the slowdown, this time in person, for the Form I-9 to be valid. 

More Information: There are new Form I-9 and E-Verify rules. Watch our interview with employment law expert Montserrat Miller.

Do Get to Know EBI

EBI understands the benefits and challenges of a robust remote workforce. Throughout the past decade, we’ve worked diligently to build an incredible WFH team. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic, EBI is proud to be 100% operational with a fully remote workforce and no impact on our ability to service our clients and candidates.

When you’re ready to hire remote employees, EBI can guide the way.

We are known for our customizable screening packages for businesses of all sizes and we are working every day during this crisis to craft unique background check solutions for our clients.

Get to know EBI and contact us at 1.800.324.7700.

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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