Florida Considers Mandatory Vetting for Home Delivery Contractors

By Michael Klazema on 1/23/2020

When you order a new refrigerator or dishwasher, how can you trust the individuals who come to your door to deliver and install your purchase?

That question lies at the heart of a bill proposed early in Florida's 2020 legislative session as part of a rapid response to a shocking crime that took place one year before in Boca Raton. A 75-year-old woman was found beaten and murdered in her home with police arresting a 21-year-old appliance deliveryman for the crime. 

Authorities revealed that the alleged perpetrator worked for a subcontractor hired by a logistics business contracted by Best Buy. The subcontracting company, X.M. Delivery Service, did not conduct a background check on the individual before hiring him and allowing him to enter the homes of customers. A lawsuit filed by the victim's family claimed that a misdemeanor conviction in his background could have led to his disqualification if the business had used a pre-employment background check. 

The proposed legislation could make it less likely for such a situation to occur by instituting mandatory level 2 background checks for delivery companies. Many businesses that sell appliances and offer installation do not oversee employees on their own; contracting and subcontracting are common.

The language in the proposed Florida bill narrowly defines who falls into the category of a "home delivery driver" to include only those who deliver "household goods." Though intended to address the specific situation that led to the law, some contend that the law does not go far enough. 

Although appliance delivery is the most common scenario in which workers enter individuals’ homes, the landscape of the gig economy creates other opportunities for potential risk. It is not uncommon, for example, for users of grocery delivery services such as Shipt and Instacart to ask for assistance in unloading their order. For now, users of these services must still rely on corporate due diligence policies. 

The legislation is another sign of a growing movement spearheaded by organizations advocating for legally mandating the usage of background checks for service workers. With some estimates pegging the number of "non-standard" employees at nearly one-third of the workforce, there are many individuals who may work closely in unsupervised positions with the public without ever undergoing a background check. Proponents say that Florida's law would be a step in the right direction regarding addressing that imbalance.

Though Florida may legally address this issue, thorough vetting processes should also be a point of concern for every business owner. Not only is it an easy way to help safeguard the public, but it is essential for shielding businesses from serious liabilities. Relying on in-depth services such as the US OneSEARCH by helps to equip employers with the information that they need to make informed hiring choices. With greater scrutiny, reducing risk collectively is a genuine possibility. 

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