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Are Background Checks Enough to Vet New Hires in Construction?

One way to reduce liability on construction job sites is to vet employees and independent contractors during the hiring process, long before they step foot onto your construction site. Many owners and hiring managers simply use an online background check as a way to screen potential new hires. However, an online background check may not be enough to uncover valuable information about candidates that could inform a hiring decision. 

In this brief article, a Raleigh construction attorney will discuss the process of performing background checks in the construction industry. For all of your employment law needs, consult the construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law. 

Different Types of Background Checks

Not all background checks are the same. Depending on what kind of background check you perform, the information you can expect to find can vary. Even two companies that offer criminal background checks could end up discovering different information or missing critical details. The information found through county and state background checks may be different, as the laws and records databases they utilize can also vary. 

In addition, some companies and agencies offer different levels of background checks. A level 1 background check may only verify a person’s name, state records, and employment history. A level 2 screening is more in-depth, comparing a candidate’s fingerprint to those in state and national databases. A level 2 screening can catch perpetrators of unsolved crimes and is often used for those working in high-level government positions.

The type of background check you should utilize depends on your company’s risk appetite (as Raleigh construction law firm, we recommend not taking any chances) and the role you plan to hire for. The most thorough way to use background checks is to screen all new hires. While this may not reveal everything, it can serve to protect your company’s interests by weeding out potential problem employees. 

However, this may not be practical or cost-effective for every hire. Some companies only screen for certain roles, such as those employees that will interact with money. Each company needs to create its own policy regarding employee and independent contractor background checks. Partner with a Raleigh construction law firm to create legal contracts and policies that reduce your company’s legal risks.

Trouble With References

A background check could also include verification for education credentials, social security numbers, and character references. If an applicant provides the contact information for references on their own, it is possible that they asked friends and family members who would give them a positive review. This can give you a skewed perspective of a person that is not balanced or accurate.

To avoid personal references, you can ask for three professional references as a part of the hiring process. Always make sure to clarify how someone knows the applicant to ensure that it is a former boss, client, or coworker who is making the recommendation to ensure that it is as objective as possible. Sometimes calling references is a step that is overlooked. However, it is a simple and inexpensive way to get additional information about someone’s character and work history. Just be sure to maintain an awareness that references should only be one part of a complete background check and not the whole process. 

Verifying Other Businesses and Suppliers

Much like when you hire an independent contractor or employee, it is equally important to conduct background research on any new business, vendor, or supplier that you plan to work with on an upcoming construction project. This can start with a simple online search or by requesting to speak to their past clients. If a company has a lot of bad reviews, an expired business license, or pending lawsuits from other clients, it should serve as a warning sign.

There are services that conduct background checks on your behalf for other companies. For very high dollar deals, this might be worth the investment. If the company is publicly owned, it is easy to find past financial and performance reports directly on the company’s website. 

Invest in Strong Legal Documentation

Even after you perform your due diligence, it’s still possible to hire someone who puts your company at risk. By working with a Raleigh contractor lawyer, you can have a professional draft your employment contract and incorporate clear language that protects your business. 

For most construction projects, things tend to go smoothly. Using background checks as a safeguard against possible fraud or liability is a practice that makes sense. If you do end up having a problem, hiring a Raleigh contractor attorney can help to protect your company in a variety of ways, including contract review, OSHA defense advice, and dispute resolution. 

If you would like to speak with a Raleigh construction lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.