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  • Writer's pictureTaryn M

Tips on how to handle Delayed Background-Checks Due to COVID-19

Updated: Nov 21, 2021

As an employer navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, you have most likely had to adjust your normal hiring procedures and transition to a more virtual approach to maintain safe work environment.

While some companies have opted to simply hold off on recruiting, many agencies are on a hiring overload. Certain essential industries have greatly increased the number of positions for which they are hiring.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to conduct thorough background checks in a timely manner as outlined by our policy may not be feasible. Many of my clients, who in “normal” times could receive a background screen report back within 2-4 weeks, are now experiencing wait times of over 20-weeks or longer. Even with delayed background screens for employment, you can and should continue to screen all potential employees. In this hiring market, what are the odds your new hire is going to want to wait over 20 weeks to start their new position? Not Likely! So how do we manage our expectations for starting new employees on in a timely manner?

Here are some tips on how to navigate hiring in a COVID-19 pandemic’s impact and its impact on background check delays, and how to continue to confidently and safely hire employees during this time.

SHRM has proposed, including a temporary action regarding new-hire background screening. This is a great way to move forward with your new hire(s) but highlight their start date as an extension of the contingent job offer pending the results of the background check.

Tips to include in staffing your staffing policy and/or contingent job offer:

  • All background checks will be initiated as required by [Company name]’s policy. Due to possible delays from screening providers, government authorities, educational institutions, and laboratories, new hires will be offered employment contingent upon the results of the background check, which may be received after the employee’s start date.

  • Each position will be evaluated to determine the appropriateness of allowing a new hire to begin work before completing all background-check requirements. For example, a newly hired employee working with limited access to sensitive data and/or contact with the public may be able to begin work before receipt of the full background-check results. Alternatively, a new hire that will be working directly with customers or clients may have his or her start date delayed until the results of the background check are received.

  • New hires that are required by law to be drug screened will be directed to local laboratories that remain open for drug screens during the pandemic. If a local laboratory is not available, [company name] will seek alternative options such as a mobile collection service. If alternative drug screening services are not available, the new hire may be assigned to other work duties not regulated by drug-testing requirements until testing becomes available, or the new hire may have his or her start date delayed.

With rapid changes in the employment landscape, now is a great time to update your employment screening policies, and how your organization will continue to adjust and respond to the future of work.

Contact us today at, for a free consultation.

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