What You Need to Know about Continuous Background Screening

By Michael Klazema on 8/6/2019

For most businesses, the biggest limitation of criminal background checks is that they are time-bound. A criminal background check report is a snapshot of a person’s criminal record at a specific moment in time. You might screen a prospective employee, find that he or she a clean record, and decide to hire the applicant based in part on that information. However, that person won’t necessarily always have a clean record. 

The employee could be convicted of a crime in six months or a year—including a crime that would typically disqualify him or her from consideration for the job at hand. That is the value of continuous background screening, a useful strategy that is underutilized among most American companies. 

According to a 2018 study published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), only four percent of HR professionals say that their organization runs continuous background checks on employees. The study surveyed some 6,500 people working in the human resources niche, spanning industries from government to transportation to construction. 

The SHRM survey found that the transportation industry was the most consistent adopter of continuous background screening strategies of any industry represented in the study. In 2018, after years of controversy concerning its driver background check policies, the ridesharing service Uber began utilizing “real-time collection” of criminal history information. Earlier this year, Lyft, Uber’s chief competitor in the ridesharing space, followed suit by implementing an ongoing criminal monitoring strategy of its own

A continuous background check policy lets an employer know if one of their workers has a major run-in with the law after being hired. Criminal monitoring setups can work in slightly different ways. For instance, Uber’s system alerts the company if a driver is arrested or charged with a crime. The company can then decide whether to terminate the driver, suspend the driver until the charges are dropped or there is a verdict in the case, or keep the driver on without penalty. In other cases, an employer might be notified only if an employee is convicted of a crime. Keep in mind that some states do not allow employers to make any employment-related decisions based on arrests unless those arrests led to convictions. 

Some businesses try to accomplish the work of continuous background screening through re-screening. These employers pick a window—such as every five years—and then require employees to go through the background check process again after that window has elapsed. 

The weakness of this type of check is that it allows for years in which a conviction, potentially a major one, goes undisclosed and overlooked. If an employee is convicted of sexual assault two months after being hired, but their employer only requires re-screening every five years, that individual could potentially work for the company for four years and ten months without that conviction being discovered. Continuous screening reduces the risk of major convictions being overlooked. 

At, we are proud to offer an ongoing criminal monitoring service to our clients. This service can run your personnel through our US OneSEARCH database every month. If we find any new criminal activity on an employee’s record, we will notify you immediately. Contact us today to learn how to set up this valuable service for your company.



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