occupational health HR background checks

Hiring during and after COVID-19

In 2020, hiring is more complex than it has ever been before. We have the tools you need to hire successfully:

  • Hiring and Interviewing tips
  • Better background checks
  • Onsite drug testing
  • Health surveillance

The country swung rapidly from record low unemployment to a quarantined economy and unemployment claims in the millions. Employers will need to hire again, and many had to hire when social distancing was in place. As we move through the next year together and rebound from COVID-19, hiring will see new rules and practices.

Interviewing, hiring, testing, and quarantines

Interviewing options: Can I interview onsite? Are there laws relating to online interviewing? Yes, there are legal implications to interviewing online, and safety requirements for interviewing in person. Read more.

Testing: Can I require a COVID-19 test for applicants? Yes, you can screen applicants after making a conditional offer, as long as the testing protocol is applied equally. However, employers must be careful of the legal implications of medical testing or refusal of employment based on the results. Read more.

This was passed by the EEOC April 23 in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and coronavirus, explaining that employers may screen employees for COVID-19. Any mandatory medical test must be job-related and consistent with business necessity, the EEOC explained.

“Applying this standard to the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may take steps to determine if employees entering the workplace have COVID-19 because an individual with the virus will pose a direct threat to the health of others,” the agency stated. Consequently, an employer may administer COVID-19 testing to employees before they enter the workplace.

Quarantine: Can I require employees to work from home? Yes. Employers have an obligation to protect their employees. However, this varies greatly from business to business, and state to state. As we move forward, lawyers are already anticipating lawsuits to follow COVID-19. Be prepared, read all you can, and discuss questions with your lawyer.

Better Background Checks: essential for all

Background checks remain an essential part of the hiring process, and they will only become more important as employees work from home and without team interaction and supervision in the early days of employment. While sectors of the criminal and civil court system remain closed, as well as educational institutions and some employers, it is still possible, and strongly recommended, for employers to run background checks on every employee.

Background checking companies might run into roadblocks in the following areas due to COVID-19 closures:

Criminal and Civil Courts: As of a report from Forbes in late April, "over 60% of courts in the U.S. are reporting "open," meaning that there is no indication or notice of a change in the court's standard process for fulfilling public records search requests. Approximately 30% of courts report having “limited results” available, with around 10% of courts having closed their operations."

Verifications: Most companies use automated systems for their verifications, and, as such, operations should continue as usual. However, educational institutions have been severely affected by the pandemic. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to find official transcripts or other documents that must come directly from the institute of higher education. 

According to Forbes, "Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may be considering revising their screening programs to accelerate time to hire, for example, temporarily waiving criminal checks. But doing so comes with risk, not only of negligent hiring or negligent retention but of justifying the validity of criminal checks in the future." In other words, continue screening! 

Gold standard background checks include:

  • Public records checks (both criminal and civil)
  • Certification, education, and license verification
  • Identity services

Additionally, many employers are adding a caveat to their background checks: post-employment screening. This is a far better option than other non-traditional options, like social media screening; however, employers must be aware of the adverse action process required in such cases.

On-site Drug Testing: more important now

On-site drug testing has never been a better investment in your team. For years we have recommended on-site testing because it eliminates the opportunity for chronic users to cheat the test. Now, we recommend it because it will keep your employees safe, allowing them to be testing in an environment you know is COVID-19 free through your daily health scans.

Health Surveillance

WSS is performing on-site COVID-19 Return to Duty testing and health surveillance (including temperature checks) for Houston businesses. For more on our health surveillance services and updates on current business procedures and recommended protocol during COVID-19, read here.

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