The world has changed. What’s the impact on background screening?

Read how global employers are adjusting during a time of social distancing

April 20, 2020

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It’s crazy to think how much things have changed in just the past few weeks. A worldwide health crisis is sweeping the globe and employers everywhere are making day-by-day hiring and background screening decisions as they carefully navigate today’s unchartered waters.

At First Advantage, we stand with our customers during this unprecedented time and aim to provide much-needed market insight and perspective. That’s why we recently asked our Senior Vice President of Global Clients, Matthew Clarke, to share what he’s seeing in the marketplace and provide insight into how companies are managing their background check programs in the current climate of mass lock-downs, quarantines and social distancing.

What’s the general “mood” of multi-national employers in today’s marketplace?

Many of our global customers are expecting to go through a difficult period from now through the end of May; however, by June or July, most expect things to start turning around. From July onward, they’re anticipating business as usual. Toward September, October and November, many believe it will actually be busier than normal for that period as companies try to catch up on hiring and background screening that was halted or postponed from earlier in the year.

How is the current situation impacting hiring?

At the moment, we’re seeing a mixed bag of approaches. Some companies are pausing hiring for now—giving it a break for 5 to 8 weeks—and plan to resume hiring in May or June. These customers are focused on clearing and completing all background check orders that are already in the system. For now, they’re not submitting new background check cases unless it’s a high-priority situation.

Then there’s another group of customers. These organizations want to keep moving ahead, as much as they possibly can, without changing anything. While they recognize that some things will be different due to the effects of COVID-19, they are committed to hiring and background screening as usual.

What’s the impact on global background check programs?

Different countries have different challenges. The U.S., for example, is a highly automated society when it comes to background screening, so you can run a lot of checks without interruption. There are databases for criminal, employment and education verification; however, there can be delays with manual follow-ups due to closures of courthouses, businesses and educational institutions. Our product team developed an interactive map so customers track these closures and gain insights into how their background check turnaround times may be impacted.

Likewise, there are some challenges around drug testing. We’re excited to offer one drug testing solution that employers can leverage virtually. OralTox®, our saliva-based screening product, can be used over video chat with employees. This product can show indication of use for up to 12 drugs, helping verify for an employer than employee is ready for the workplace.

Things are also running fairly well in the United Kingdom. You can run online criminal checks that can now be verified via video link, and some education and employment verifications can be fulfilled.

You start seeing more challenges in other parts of Europe and India. In India, we can continue to run criminal checks using eCourt. But the majority of businesses and education facilities are closed, presenting challenges with education and employment checks. However, we’re continuously on the lookout for alternatives to provide a good service to our customers.

If you keep going around the world, you get to places like China and Hong Kong. China was the first country to go offline as a result of the pandemic, but now they’re back to business as usual.

Matthew Clarke is based in London, United Kingdom. He works with and leads many of the largest and most sophisticated global clients in the First Advantage business and brings a strong base of knowledge and thought leadership within the global background screening industry.

At First Advantage, we’re here for you. If you have questions, need guidance or further insight as we push through this extraordinary time together, please reach out to your account manager or contact us directly.

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