Background Checks for Transport Employees -Navigating Remote Hiring

The transportation industry is the engine of a considerable economic sector. Trucks carry goods on roads crisscrossing the nation; hired drivers ferry people to and from destinations; trains haul vast loads of freight—the list goes on. While much focus falls on vetting the drivers and operators on the roads, what about the administrative workers behind the scenes? Background checks for these transport employees matter, too.

Such screening is even more critical in the face of increasing remote hiring. Remote transportation jobs often include back-office roles for transit companies that don’t have a large office. Indeed, some may not have an office at all. Other companies may use remote workers to act as dispatchers, route managers, and support staff for drivers on the road. Vetting all these workers is as important to your company as screening drivers.

How do you navigate safe, effective remote hiring in the transportation sector?

Why background checks and pre-employment screening matter for back office roles

When hiring someone you may never interact with face-to-face, there is a powerful impulse to cut corners. This impulse might not exist when you’re staffing an office of workers you’ll see every day. However, you cannot adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude with remote workers. Doing so could amount to an unacceptable level of risk.

In typical workplaces, you may focus on preventing harm to other employees as part of the reason for in-depth screening. For a remote employee, the risks often concern your business itself. For example, dispatchers might not perform their job appropriately because they lied about their experience and credentials during hiring. Their mistakes can lead to significant financial impacts when truckers don’t collect loads or miss required delivery windows.

There are other risks, too. By necessity, remote workers must connect to your computer systems to receive and submit their work. This category includes a wide range of administrative employees, including accounting staff. Without good security and a trusted team working in your online environment, you could put the business at risk of financial crimes such as embezzlement. Identifying candidates with too many risk factors to be suitable for remote work is an essential step in your hiring process.

Know the challenges you’ll need to navigate

As you build a system for screening your candidates, you must know in advance what pitfalls you might encounter. Remote hiring comes with some unique challenges compared to traditional hiring. Some of the main aspects you’ll need to consider include:

  • Your hiring criteria. Create a thorough and transparent policy on how you will obtain and evaluate a criminal record check. You must apply this policy equally to all applicants, whether remotely or in person.
  • How you’ll protect a candidate’s information. Remote hiring involves sharing lots of personal information back and forth with candidates. You need a secure environment and smart procedures to protect this data.
  • I-9 employment eligibility verification. Your process for completing this form for candidates you choose to hire must adhere to a specific procedure for this vital paperwork and analyzing a candidate’s eligibility documents in a remote setting. To find out more, visit the official US government website on the topic for complete details.

There’s another vital element to consider beyond these: compliance with hiring laws.

Be prepared to tackle compliance concerns

You must exercise the same commitment to nondiscrimination with remote candidates that you would for in-person interviewees. Likewise, you must also carefully abide by the rules that might apply to your business locally. For example, if your candidate lives in a jurisdiction with “ban the box” or “fair chance” laws, you may need to abide by those directives before you can check for a criminal record. However, that may not necessarily be true.

Why? This rule isn’t an area of settled law; different judges remain on either side of the issue, even within the same state. Consult with an employment lawyer to create a hiring process that will let your transportation business staff a remote office appropriately. Exploring a policy that incorporates elements of fair chance policies, for example, may give you a path to achieving compliance without the need to make changes every hiring cycle.

Checking your applicant or candidate’s credentials

Finding a quality, reliable candidate is always essential, but even more so when hiring for a remote position in transportation. With no way to provide direct supervision during the workday, you need to choose individuals who can rise to the challenge—and honor your trust. Here’s a quick overview of elements you should include:

  • Employment verification. Experience is non-negotiable, especially in roles such as dispatching or accounting. Verify that an applicant has the transportation industry experience you need. Contact former employers and confirm dates of employment, job roles, and more.
  • Education verification. An overriding step for filling knowledge worker roles in the back office is verifying that applicants are truthful about their education and graduation status.
  • License verification if hiring an individual in a controlled field. For example, accountants who claim to have a CPA certification should undergo verification to confirm that they can provide the services you require.

Verifications are a fundamental part of the hiring process. Still, they can be easy to overlook in favor of the potential bombshells you might find in a candidate’s criminal history report. Avoid hiring someone falsely representing themselves by checking their claims thoroughly.

Using criminal background checks and other screening tools

An employer background check should include searching to see whether a candidate has any criminal records. Remember, this process is all about risk management. Someone whose record includes convictions for fraud, embezzlement, or other financial crimes might not be suitable for your accounting team. Someone who has a history of DUIs or drug charges may not offer the reliability you need to be a dispatcher.

Though criminal convictions are red flags, they signal the need for deeper considerations—not automatic rejection. The EEOC suggests that employers individually assess each candidate’s record using various factors. These include how long ago the crime occurred, whether it relates to the job, and more. Following these recommendations contributes to a more consistent process for all applicants while also being more fair. As you prepare to order screening solutions on candidates for remote work, be sure you understand how you will evaluate and use the results.

One important thing to note: though you may be a Department of Transportation-regulated business, you do not necessarily need to order an MVR report or use DOT regulations for back office workers. Since they will not operate vehicles for your business, those laws don’t apply.

Find the tools you need to get started today

Background checks for transport employees must cover everyone a business employs—not only the drivers. As you aim to improve flexibility through remote workers, it is crucial not to lose sight of the need to vet these individuals with care. After all, there’s no one in the room to provide oversight—so you need to take extra precautions to hire individuals that carry the fewest risks to your business. Evaluate your current procedures, explore room for improvement, and find the solutions you need from today.

Get instant updates on Driving Records

Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

Michael's recent publications

More Like This Post

State Criminal Search

Virginia Criminal Search

A Virginia state background check can uncover more criminal records. Learn about these tools and the legal restrictions involved.

Order a Search for Virginia