Reducing Business Liability with Contractor Background Checks – Wimgo

Reducing Business Liability with Contractor Background Checks

When you bring on contractors, you gotta vet them thoroughly before hiring. Running background checks is crucial for reducing risks and making sure you don’t end up with any bad apples. 

While it takes effort upfront, it saves you big time later when things go sideways with the wrong hire. Solid screening keeps your assets, brand, and people protected. Let’s explore why it’s so important:

Protecting Your Rep and Assets

You sink a lot of money into hiring contractors for projects and gigs. You need that investment protected. Shoddy work, fraud, theft, lawsuits – that all hurts you bad.

Screening lets you avoid people with red flags that suggest they might damage your business. Criminal searches can uncover violence, theft, shady behavior. Drug tests identify substance abuse issues. Skills tests make sure they can actually do the job.

Without checks, you risk handing over the keys to someone who wrecks your operations, rips you off, or breaks laws on your dime. Huge liability.

Protecting your reputation is just as crucial. Contractors represent you to the public. If they act unethically or illegally, your image takes a big hit too. Screening helps you dodge those reputation-wreckers.  

Dodging Lawsuits

If you hire a sketchy contractor who commits crimes, harasses people, etc – you can get sued for negligence. Plaintiffs will argue you should’ve found those red flags with better screening. And often, they’re right.

Negligent hiring lawsuits can cost millions and trash your reputation. Doing thorough background checks shows you took due diligence to avoid liability.

Keeping Things Safe 

When contractors access your facilities and work alongside staff, safety is a must. Violence, harassment, theft, substances – that jeopardizes wellbeing and morale.

Background checks let you screen for violent offenses, harassment, theft charges, and drug abuse in someone’s past. This minimizes risks. Regular checks also ensure no new red flags pop up after hiring.

Verifying licenses, training, skills prevents accidents from incompetence too. And driving checks flag any DUIs or infractions for contractors operating vehicles.

Proper screening promotes a safe, thriving work environment for all. People can trust each other.

Must-Have Background Checks

Now that you see why screening matters, let’s hit the key checks to run on contractors:

ID Verification

Gotta confirm contractors are who they say they are – full name, DOB, SSN. Solid identity proof means the rest of the background check data is correct.

Stops potential identity fraudsters from falsifying their past. Make sure to check any aliases too. 

Criminal History

Critical for seeing any convictions for violence, theft, fraud, harassment or other shady behavior. Typically go back 7-10 years minimum.  

Search county records thoroughly – that’s where you get the most complete criminal records.

See if any serious convictions like violence and theft warrant automatic disqualification. For lesser crimes, assess case-by-case if they might repeat.

Skills and Education  

For specialized contractors, you need to verify required licenses, training certs, and skills they list. Makes sure credentials match duties. 


– Degrees and certifications

– Professional licenses

– Driver’s licenses for vehicle operators  

– Safety credentials like OSHA 10

– Relevant skills testing

Confirm it all through issuing authorities and competency exams. Don’t take people’s word.

Driving Records 

If contractors drive for you, screening driving history is essential. Check motor vehicle records for any DUIs, accidents, suspensions – big red flags.

Disqualify based on your risk comfort level. For minor tickets, just ensure it won’t lead to license suspension.

Re-check periodically to confirm clean records are maintained after hiring.

Drug Testing

Drug screening identifies any substance abuse that could impair work and judgement. Tests detect illicit drugs but also prescription med misuse.

Ideally, require tests for all safety-sensitive contractor roles pre-employment. Random checks post-hiring help deter abuse too.

Though marijuana’s legal some places, you can still prohibit use under federal contractor law if it compromises work.

Doing It Right  

To make your contractor screening program effective and compliant, follow these best practices:

Clear Policies

Write out your standard checks, disqualifiers, and risk tolerance upfront. Share criteria in contracts and job posts so people know the deal.  

Consistent standards make it easier to objectively evaluate candidates. Shows you apply due diligence to all.

Legal Compliance

Learn the federal, state and local laws governing background checks and hiring where you operate. Key ones include FCRA, EEOC, ban-the-box, labor codes. 

Partnering with a screening firm ensures compliance, ethical practices, and candidate consent.

Screen Early 

Start background checks once you’ve narrowed down to qualified finalists, before any firm offer. Avoids awkwardly rescinding later.

If someone dodges or delays screening, may signal attempt to hide red flags. Make cooperation a must.

Thorough Checks

No cutting corners! Skimpy checks let bad apples slip through. Verify education and skills exhaustively. Search criminal records across counties and years. 

For sensitive roles, spend more on extensive checks like fingerprinting. Deep digging brings peace of mind.

Follow Up Red Flags

If concerning info turns up, first verify record accuracy with the source. Allow candidate to explain circumstances before any dismissal.

Evaluate each red flag individually – severity, age, repeat offenses, rehabilitation. Give people a chance if an issue seems reasonable to move past. 

Regular Repeat Checks

Don’t stop at pre-employment. Conduct periodic criminal checks and drug tests post-hiring to catch emerging risks. Monitor driving records regularly too for operators.  

Updated screening also guards against identity theft and fraud down the road.

Get Help From the Pros

Trying to handle background checks in-house can overwhelm your team. Outsource to background check companies armed with extra resources and expertise to get it done right.


Reputable firms have screened tons of candidates across many industries. They know the complex regulations and efficient processes that minimize legal risks. Staff are also experts at accurately interpreting reports.

Relying on seasoned providers reduces compliance mistakes that lead to lawsuits. Their advice can help tailor an effective program for your needs.

Compliance Experts

Background screening means navigating a web of federal, state and local laws that are always changing. Keeping track of the endless regulatory shifts requires huge resources your team likely lacks. 

Outsourcers stay on top of all the relevant laws and regulations. They ensure your checks remain compliant as guidelines evolve so you avoid legal hot water.

Fast and Accurate  

Check companies wield massive databases and connections to quickly gather records from thousands of sources. Most checks done in days versus weeks trying manually in-house.

They systematize all the administrative hassles so your team focuses only on high-value interviewing and evaluations.

Their expertise also improves accuracy – in-house newbies are more prone to missing red flags. 

So for legally sound, efficient screening, turn to an established provider with proven credentials, compliance history, security and happy client references. 

Fair Chance Policies

While screening is essential, also important to implement checks fairly and avoid discrimination. Some tips:

Follow the Rules

Don’t blanket reject all candidates with any criminal record. The EEOC warns that can disproportionately limit opportunities for minorities impacted by the justice system.

Instead, evaluate convictions individually based on severity, age, repeat offenses and rehabilitation factors. Focus criteria on job-related risks.

Also avoid considering arrests not leading to convictions – no proof of wrongdoing there.

Explain Your Side

If negative info surfaces, let candidates explain circumstances and contest inaccurate records before moving to dismiss them.

By hearing them out, you may determine some issues are reasonable to move past. Creates a fairer process.

Judge Individually 

Avoid rigid standards that automatically disqualify broad categories like felony convictions. Review each person’s specific background holistically.

For instance, an old felony followed by years of positive work may be fine to overlook with monitoring. But blanket felony bans shut this down.

While you need standards, build in flexibility to judge unique cases individually. Explore monitoring programs too where legally allowed.  

Wrap Up

Thorough background screening is clearly indispensable for reducing risks when bringing on contractors. The modest time and money investment avoids the immense cost of messing up with a bad hire.

By partnering with check pros, implementing ongoing monitoring, and providing fair chance policies, you can hire with far more confidence. Your business gains qualified contractors who meet standards, uphold your reputation, and minimize liability. 

That enables safe, productive, and successful operations now and in the future. So get screening!