The Growing “Gig” Economy and Pre-Employment Background Screening

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One of the growing trends in employment is a group of workers classified as “gig” or contingent employees and the numbers of “gig” employees has exploded since the Great Recession. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of CriminalBackgroundRecords.com states: “Ultimately gig employees are no different than full-time, permanent employees and they should be treated the same especially during the pre-employment background screening process.”

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It used to be that gig workers were not as rigorously screened as permanent workers due to the perception that gig workers being temporary in nature did not need the same level of scrutiny. That has changed.

Contingent or “gig” workers are one of the fastest growing classes of employees across the United States, a trend that will continue into the foreseeable future. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of CriminalBackgroundRecords.com states: “In regards to employment screening it is critical to treat contingent workers the same as permanent workers especially now as this class of employee continues to grow.

The contingent workforce actually isn’t a new concept.

Almeida states: “Contingent workers have been around for decades, it’s just in the last few years that an explosive growth has taken place.”

An article from Daily.FinancialExecutives.org (Jan. 30, 17) highlights the “gig” worker:

Although on-demand apps like Uber, Lyft, Handy, Task Rabbit and Deliveroo have been the most conspicuous examples of the rise of the gig economy, the gig economy itself has, in fact, been operating for as many as three decades in industries such as oil and gas, engineering, technology and scientific research. The difference we’re seeing now is the accelerated, wide-spread adoption of a contingent workforce model across blue-chip and mid- market companies, and governments, which encompasses a much larger proportion of the total workforce. (1)

Gig workers have changed the workplace and the manner in which gig workers are screened must change as well.

Almeida states: “It used to be that gig workers were not as rigorously screened as permanent workers due to the perception that gig workers being temporary in nature did not need the same level of scrutiny. That has changed.”

From a recent SHRM report discussing “gig” workers at length (Jan. 25, 17):

"Along with the growth of this industry we have witnessed a significant shift … with many [employers] initially avoiding or limiting the screening component based on the premise that the workers are not employees," Sorenson said. "Over the past couple of years, that philosophy has changed, with a realization that whether the individual is an employee, independent contractor or otherwise, the worker represents the employer's brand, and screening—particularly when access to people or sensitive material is involved—is a critical risk mitigation tool, regardless of the worker's classification…” (2)

Almeida states: “Now that gig workers are gaining stature it is time to screen them with the same vigorous standards as any other employee.”

Certainly challenges will remain. Companies utilizing gig employees such as Uber and other app-based services face the enormous task of screening a large number of individuals as well as handling the associate cost of pre-employment background screening with includes criminal background checks.

Almeida states: “The benefits far outweigh the cost of pre-employment background checks. Protecting the public, existing employees, and property are key elements of background screening.”

Ultimately, as companies review screening policies, rigorous background checks including criminal background records checks on gig employees is a best practice for 2017.

Almeida concludes: “It is critical that companies get in front of the trend of gig employees, a trend which will only get bigger, and understand the laws governing background screening. And that best practice is to work with a well-qualified third-party background screening agency.”

CriminalBackgroundRecords.com is a third-party background screening company that can provide compliant solutions for all screening requirements. From pre-employment to post-hire screening, as well as volunteer, caregiver and nanny checks, CriminalBackgroundRecords.com provides background screening services across a broad array of industries. From the smallest organization to the largest corporation, CriminalBackgroundRecords.com can fulfill every background screening requirement.

Notes:

(1)    daily.financialexecutives.org/gig-economy-evolving-workforce/
(2)    shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/2017-employment-screening-trends.aspx

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Dan Adams
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