Tis' season for background checks

10 December 2018 00:00

The festive season is upon us and with it comes the annual rush to stores. In many instances, retailers are unable to handle the surge with only full-time staff and opt to bring in additional help in the form of seasonal employees.

With the flood of customers and the urgent need for assistance, are background checks on incoming temporary staff a necessity?

The short answer is yes, says Rudi Kruger, general manager of Risk Solutions at LexisNexis Data Services. “It is imperative that business owners understand that the risks that come with seasonal staff remain the same as long-term hires. Background screening and other contingencies are put in place to ensure businesses employ the right people with limited risk and this holds true no matter the employment term. From temporary salesmen to instore Santas, if you’re hiring this festive season, pre-screening is a must,” Kruger said.

Conducting background screening on employees who are likely to have short stays at the business may seem to be an added expense, however, bringing in temporary staff, can become a far more costly experience.

“As with all background checks, pre-screening the staff members you choose to hire during the busy festive period will provide a clearer picture of the individual you are bringing into your company circle and ultimately, into the inner workings of your business. One dishonest or legally compromised individual is all it takes to put your business – or worse, your customers – in jeopardy.”

The same rules and procedures should apply when dealing with seasonal hires as the rest of the year. “It pays to be more vigilant during this period as the risk is higher. Seasonal temps are likely to come in contact with a higher volume of customers, increasing the risk of reputational damage to your business.

Why Screen Seasonal Staff?

  • It is important to remember that all liability lies with the business. Any wrongdoing by the employee, no matter how small, has direct impact on the company.
  • For many shoppers, the festive period tends to be more about dealing with the frustration of overcrowded shopping centres and the pressure that comes from finding the perfect gift than spreading good cheer. Mixing upset customers with a potentially volatile employee is risky. This is where previous behaviour and reputable references come in handy.
  • The safety of the customer is paramount. “A background check can uncover negative actions, attitudes or any form of criminal activity by a seasonal employee before they become a member of the company – for however long the period. It is imperative that businesses are able to vouch for the employees they leave their customers in the care of. The last thing you want to discover is that the jolly Santa working in your store, interacting with customers and their children, has a criminal record,” said Kruger.
  • Conducting independent background checks is a critical step – even in instances where seasonal staff come recommended by temp agencies. It is detrimental to assume the same standards you apply to your company are being carried out by a third party,” Kruger added.

Background screening, whether on permanent or seasonal employees, is simplified with Lexis® RefCheck, a background screening solution that assists employers with verifying a wide range of personal information, including the identity of the candidate, information held by credit bureaus, criminal records, driver's licenses, global academic qualifications and professional association memberships. Lexis RefCheck also provides a valuable employee due diligence and audit tool 24/7.For more information, visit: https://www.lexisnexis.co.za/dataservices