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Hiring temps onto your permanent staff? Check their backgrounds

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in Employment Background Check,Hiring,Human Resources

Quick quiz: What does your temp agency contract say about performing background checks? Is it your duty? Is it theirs? Too many employers don't know the answer. They simply assume a temp agency wouldn't send over someone with a criminal background.

Don't make the same mistake. Ensure that your temp agency properly screens applicants before they step foot on your property. Get those assurances in writing.

And if you consider temps for permanent jobs, treat them just like any other candidate. Run them through the same reference and background checks. Temp employees who are hired as permanent staffers often fly under the radar of pre-employment checks. As the following case shows, this "halo effect" can be dangerous.

Recent Case : After working for 90 days as a temp payroll clerk at a tech company, Teena Rodriguez was hired as a permanent employee. The tech company didn't interview Rodriguez or check her background; it assumed the temporary agency conducted a thorough reference check before she began. It didn't.

Over the next two years, Rodriguez embezzled $1.3 million from the company.

The company sued the temp agency, alleging breach of contract and negligence, saying the agency violated a "duty of reasonable care" by failing to check the temp's references and failing to warn its client of her previous criminal record for theft from another employer.

The problem: The contract between the tech company and the temp agency said nothing about checking references. The company claimed the employment agency made an oral pact to check references.

A trial court sided with the temp agency, and a state appeals court agreed. It said the temp agency didn't owe the employer any duty of reasonable care that wasn't stated in the contract. (Vtech Communications, Inc. v. Robert Half Inc., No. C00-1827CV; A117619, Oregon Ct. App., 2003)

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