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Do You Really Know Your Contractors?

The Hard Evidence for Contractor Screening and Employment Background Check Searches

By Devon Wijesinghe, www.e-VERIFILE.COM

March 17 2009 - With faster access to billions of records worldwide, you'd think that companies would at least attempt to run an employment background check and/or verification search on a contractor, supplier, or vendor. These partnerships are, after all, major sources of lifeblood to both sides. If that's the case, it's hard to make sense of alarming statistics, like the whopping 90% of American companies that neglect to run contractor screening and criminal checks on these partners.

That means only one out of ten do their homework. Contractors are the Achilles heel of a company's supply chain and pose the greatest risk because they have the least oversight. Companies need to understand that they cannot ignore that risk because it carries large monetary consequences if they do.

At best, the other 'nine companies' provide limited legal wording in their contracts to replace any contractor screening initiatives. But, in a series of landmark decisions, the US court system decided this was not enough - hiring companies must be held accountable for actions of employees, contractors, vendors, and suppliers that are on the company's dime. Yes, that means if you hire a man convicted in his past of aggravated assault and you fail to run an employment background check and he subsequently attacks a co-worker or a client, you can be legally responsible for his actions.

In the past, the contractor, vendor, or supplier could feign credibility, and it normally worked. With recent employment background check legislation, this is no longer true. And the fact of the matter is that with all the millions in payouts your company will be forced to remit to victims of your contractor's negligent actions, you could have paid for just as many background and contractor screening checks. With fast, effective hiring and workforce solutions now available, ensuring greater safety and security is a simple process; you can choose online safety training for new hires, order badges to prevent breaches, or run contractor screening and verification checks to reduce instances of resume fraud.

The Trucker Incident. With just two months' experience, long-haul truck driver Kristin Arciszewski was hired by Georgia-based AKJ Enterprises Inc. (owned by C. H. Worldwide Inc.). Carrying a load of cable reels on a tight schedule, Arciszewski was in a hurry to drop the items off at their intended location. Eyewitness accounts mention Arciszewski re-entering the highway a bit too quickly and without properly signaling. After crossing the median from her northbound lane into the southbound lane, she struck Winford Jones, another trucker, head-on. Arciszewski died in the accident while Jones suffered multiple injuries from the collision.

Jones subsequently filed a personal injury suit, and US District Judge Glen E. Conrad found that, in the Jones v. C. H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. case, Arciszewski's company was indeed at fault for "negligent hiring of an independent contractor." Furthermore, the court determined that as she was a new driver for the company, "inexperience might have also been a contributing factor" to the accident. The claim was settled for $756,231, or about the cost of 18,906 contractor screening and employment background check searches.

Lawsuits, Lawsuits, Lawsuits. Neglect to perform rigorous contractor screening and you may face huge liabilities, safety issues, and lawsuit after lawsuit. It's best to weed out trouble beforehand. But if it's so cheap, why don't companies run even the most basic of contractor screening or employment background check searches on their vendors or suppliers? It's likely a low-bid scenario and perhaps an attempt to get the cheapest labor available. Just remember - you can't rely on a carefully worded contract to save you.

Avoid Negligent Hiring. In the long run, an employment background check could save you millions. In the short run, it's just a good idea. For virtually little, you can secure your company's assets and put your fears to rest with routine contractor screening. Before signing any contracts with your newest vendor, make sure you perform a criminal and employment background check, credential and/or license verification, immigration status (if applicable), and, for jobs with considerable money responsibilities, a credit history check and report on every employee that will be dealing with your assets.

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