Navigating Background Checks and Drug Testing During COVID-19

Navigating Background Checks and Drug Testing During COVID-19

By Tricia O'Connor

Hiring is going through rapid changes because of the coronavirus outbreak. Many of these changes impact background checks and drug testing. It may be challenging for human resources professionals to keep track of all these modifications in this chaotic environment.

EBI is committed to helping you navigate these new challenges. On Thursday, April 9 at 2:00 pm EST / 11 am PT the EBI Trusted Advisor Program is hosting a 30-minute webinar to discuss updates to screening procedures and drug testing during COVID-19.

The webinar features Curt Schwall, Vice President of Compliance & Regulatory Affairs at EBI, and Larry Henry and Denelda Richardson, attorneys at Rhodes Hieronymus. The webinar will be moderated by Jennifer Gladstone, Editor-in-Chief of EBI’s Screening News Network.

We hope you can join us for this important webinar. But if you’re swamped, we understand. So, here’s a breakdown of what we’ll be discussing.

Maintaining Background and Drug Testing Programs

The best practice during this time is to continue adhering to your background screening policy to the best of your ability. However, you may need to re-evaluate your Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) to ensure they can meet demand. Some CRAs with overseas operations are facing difficulties servicing clients. EBI is operating at full capacity using a 100% US based, remote workforce in accordance with the highest security standards in the screening industry. We are not affected by any overseas governmental decisions. All these proactive steps have been taken to ensure the safety of our entire team and to minimize service disruptions to our clients and candidates.

Accessing Criminal Records

It’s essential to the background check process that researchers have access to check criminal records. Some courts have moved to electronic records, but many still must be searched in person. After a brief downturn, our research shows 98% of county courthouses have data available needed to complete a criminal background check. The initial delay is thought to have been caused by states that designated an essential employee’s clause, which reduced available staff at courthouses. There may still be instances where certain courts’ information is temporarily unavailable. If the court for a Public Records Search is closed, EBI will immediately alert you that search has not been performed. Once that information becomes available, we will notify you and await your instruction if you would like to reopen the search.

Staying Compliant with Form I-9

The federal requirement to fill out and maintain Form I-9s for all new hires is still in effect, with a few minor changes. Employers are required to physically inspect documents presented by a new hire to fill out section two of the Form I-9. Since most businesses are implementing a remote workforce, the government is temporarily suspending the “in person” requirement. Until the end of the national emergency, employers may inspect the documents over a video chat app like Zoom or Skype. Employers will be required to go back and verify documents in person as soon as the crisis ends.

Drug Screening Remote Workers

A drug test is one of the most effective tools you can use to maintain a safe and compliant workforce. Substance use typically increases during and after a crisis, of which this coronavirus pandemic certainly qualifies. Even though you may be hiring for remote positions at this time, it’s still imperative you conduct a drug test for new employees to maintain a drug-free workplace even while observing social distance practices. While there are very few closures of our lab vendors, some sites are changing office hours to adhere to state and local guidelines. Candidates may need to call a lab to confirm an appointment and undergo a health pre-screen to ensure they are well before entering a lab.

EBI Can Help

From talent acquisition to onboarding, hiring is different than it was just four weeks ago. Don’t forget to check out our comprehensive COVID-19 HR Resources guide, where you’ll find all kinds of useful blogs, videos, and related posts during this tumultuous time. Plus, we hope you’ll be able to join our Trusted Advisor Program panel for this informative webinar. 

From webinars to videos, EBI is here. Get to know our team and speak with one of our experts.

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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