Temp Employees

Temporary Employees or Temporary Headaches? You Decide...

July 19, 2006

By George J. Ramos


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2005 about 2.5 percent of the U.S. workforce consists of people in temporary jobs, up from less than 1.0 percent ten years ago. During that time, the temporary workforce itself has changed-- highly educated professionals have joined unskilled laborers and clerks. This has increased the number of temporary employees in the work force.

These increasing rates have brought employers more challenges because temporary workers don't come worry-free and temporary agencies often guard their workers? privacy to the extent you are powerless to run you own, independent background checks on the people they send to you. Background screening has found that up to 40% of temporary workers from certain agencies have criminal histories, are illegal citizens working with false identities, or are otherwise undesirable.

However, effective involvement of Human Resources management and careful attention to detail when hiring temps can reduce risk and prevent serious problems for your company. In addition, there are several solutions to these issues.

For example, Human Resources should audit the hiring procedures of any temporary services agency. Monitor their screening process, for instance, and make sure they aren?t sending convicted criminals into your work force.

Also, in some ways, you should treat temps like full-time employees. For instance, if you have concerns about the confidentiality of information or the potential loss of intellectual property, cause all temps to sign the same confidentiality or proprietary information agreements as the full-time staff.

In addition, one of the most effective and powerful tools employers can use is pre-employment background screening and drug testing.

Background screening allows employers to make informed hiring decisions based upon the results of various searches which could include civil court searches: state & federal credit history reports, criminal county court records, drivers’ history reports, education & credential verifications, federal district court searches (190 International Counties), liens & judgment searches, military service records, national criminal index database searches, office of Inspector General fraud reports, past employment (DOT) drug & alcohol test results, past employment verifications, professional license verifications, professional reference verifications, sexual offender registry searches, social security number verifications, state incarceration records, statewide criminal information, terrorist searches – OFAC, and Workers’ Compensation histories.

It is imperative for employers to find an established and reputable agency like Employers Choice Online. Employers Choice Online has no setup fees, minimums or monthly access charges. Clients are able to securely view, retrieve and archive reports 24/7 on their innovative, user-friendly proprietary and secure web-based system, and their services have never been more inexpensive. Their process is structured to be in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws (FCRA). Their service Option packages are carefully structured to fulfill the specific needs of every employer, regardless of the level of position. With qualified investigative resources on the ground nationwide and with a network of research analysts in most states and several countries, they can address your pre-employment background and screening needs.

There are no reasons to make excuses for not running background checksbefore hiring new employees. In fact, any excuse can be resolved. We have identified five major excuses that many employers may see as obstacles.

BAD EXCUSE #1: NO TIME

Employers often hire in a hurry because there is work that desperately needs to be done and they feel they do not have the time to properly screen applicants. If that's the case and you need to bring someone on board “ASAP,” explain to the worker that the results of a post-employment background check may affect his/her “continued employment” status.

Follow federal and state laws that apply to your industry and use common sense. Does the job entail working with kids, the elderly, or the infirm? Does it entail going into private residences, handling financial matters, or accessing proprietary or confidential information? How much time (not to mention money!) will be wasted in litigation if you put the wrong person in a position to cause harm?

BAD EXCUSE #2: TOO MUCH WORK

There is really not too much work that could prevent you from hiring a reputable background checking agency like Employers Choice Online. That is why we are here. We take these chores “off your plate” quickly, confidentially, and thoroughly do the work for you.

BAD EXCUSE #3: NOT MY JOB

One of the benefits of using temporary workers is that the temporary agency allegedly does much of the work for you. However, in order to reduce risk and safeguard your company, it is your responsibility to ensure proper pre-employment background screening and drug testing has been completed.

In calling a temp agency, your company figuratively washes its hands of many of the legal obligations that come with an employer/employee relationship. However, you owe it to your own company to take steps to ensure that the temps have been checked out.

Never assume that the agency has done checks. If you let them send a criminal into your work place, even if you can fire the person without much fear of litigation, you are still liable for having negligently retained a dangerous person, for instance, if a worker injures someone in a violent act when you retained him, criminal history notwithstanding. Therefore, only use a temp agency that

  • Certifies that it has done thorough background checks and complied with applicable state and federal laws, and
  • Certifies that nothing in the workers' backgrounds would make it a poor match for placement at your company.

BAD EXCUSE #4: TOO MUCH MONEY

Background screening is even less costly when compared to your overall return on investment. It will cost you much more if an employee harms a customer or co-worker, or embezzles from you.

If you save a few dollars today and put someone to work who tomorrow causes tortuous injury to someone, you can almost bet the injured party will hire an attorney who will be more than happy to spend a few dollars to get a report on the aggressor?s background.

Negligent retention is rapidly becoming one of the most popular lawsuits in the country, because it is almost impossible to defend and there are few limits, if any, on the recovery cost of damages.

Only this week, a company in Los Angeles was ordered to pay the families of two dead victims of a vehicle accident $17 million in damages, the punitive portion of which is not covered by insurance, because of the actions of a truck driver who should have probably never been hired in the first place.

In addition, try telling a jury that you put a convicted child molester in a position of interaction with children because you wanted to save several dollars by not running a background check. Think about explaining why a person with a history of assault was allowed to interact with your good customers, especially after a violent attack occurred on your property.

It would have been so much easier to have not hired these people in the first place.

Hiring temporary or even full-time employees does not have to be a headache when the excuses are set aside and smart HR managers apply good common sense and logic. We?d like to help, so give us a call and we can continue the discussion today by telephone. If you?d like us to work directly with your temp agency, we can do that. If you?d like to run your own independent background checks on temps, we can provide you with the proper forms and explain in a few minutes just how easily that?s done. We look forward to assisting you with your pre-employment background screening needs.