Evolving Legislation Creates Hiring Challenges for Manufacturers

Although domestic manufacturing in the US has declined significantly from its peak decades ago, many factories and facilities remain dedicated to producing high-value, high-quality products. From automakers to chemical synthesis and everything imaginable in between, everyone has felt the strain of challenging economic conditions.

After drastically cutting staff early in the pandemic, many businesses now find themselves with a pressing need to add more employees quickly. Manufacturers especially face major staffing requirements—so much so that there hasn't been a shortage of headlines speculating about relaxed hiring standards.

Ultimately, manufacturers need trustworthy individuals capable of working safely in potentially dangerous environments and who won't pose a risk to coworkers. Forgoing employment background checks entirely isn't the right call then—but companies who want to continue smart screening procedures have fresh challenges to face.

From a small local manufacturer to major multi-state operations, a shifting regulatory landscape means more opportunities to potentially violate the law. Such violations can carry fines and the possibility of a lengthy investigation—sometimes, they even result in lawsuits. For manufacturers, it's essential to understand what best practices to have in place to respond to economic pressures without unnecessary exposure to risk.

Using Criminal Background Screening Tools Legally

A robust process for checking an applicant's criminal history is an important element of safe hiring, especially for manufacturers. However, the widespread growth of the "ban the box" movement means that manufacturers must pay close attention to the laws in all the places they operate—not just at headquarters. Some states have enacted fair chance laws, while in other cases, counties and even individual cities have passed rules concerning private employers.

Before you use background checks in any locale, you should consult local regulations and explore whether you need to make special changes to your process. There are no locales where manufacturers can't use background checks at all, but the point in the process where you can use them may vary. Similar rules now apply if a business contracts with the federal government for manufacturing because of the federal Fair Chance Act. Factor these elements into planning to avoid hiring bottlenecks. 

Navigating Changing Drug Laws

Substance abuse is a major concern for manufacturers. Intoxication on the job could lead to serious risks of severe injury or even death. Those risks have made drug tests a normal part of hiring in the manufacturing sector. However, there's a new wrinkle: the growing spread of legal recreational and medicinal cannabis. Most drug screens still include testing for THC as part of the full panel. Before denying applicants based on a positive test for marijuana, ensure that local laws don't bar adverse action based on cannabis usage.

Building a manufacturing workforce for the future won't be easy, but employers today still have access to the tools they need to foster a safe work environment. Though shifting regulations complicate the picture, smart planning can ensure your business works around these issues and continues hiring quickly and without delay.

Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is Chief Marketing Technologist at EY-VODW.com and has over two decades of experience in digital consulting, online product management, and technology innovation. He is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments.

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