May 5th, 2020 | Jim Hickey, Managing Director, Sterling Backcheck

Background Screening During Covid-19

Background checks are a source of stability and security during uncertain times.

As Canadians continue to experience the growing impact of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, and its many uncertainties, functioning organizations lack resources to hire and screen candidates quickly to meet market demand.

Have you experienced a delay or interruptions in your background check services due to COVID-19? Learn about the impact of the pandemic on screening services around the world and how early continuity plan has helped instill security and stability during this time of uncertainty.

Global Impact of COVID-19 on the Industry

Across the world, countries have scrambled to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, implementing strict lockdown measures to limit its spread. The US has adopted restrictions on non-essential activities that impact three out of four Americans.[1] Most schools have closed in Europe,[2] while many countries, including France, Spain and the UK, have also closed non-essential businesses. India’s lockdown has been particularly severe, banning all non-essential movement in most regions. In some countries, due to local guidance, criminal record checks are no longer provided until further notice, while in others, these checks may be significantly delayed.

Impact of COVID-19 on the Industry in Canada

The repercussions on Canada have been no less wide-ranging. One after the other, Canadian provinces have closed schools and universities, placing significant hurdles in the path of organizations attempting to verify their applicants’ credentials. Many employers have closed businesses temporarily or are operating remotely until the end of the crisis, sometimes with reduced hours or a skeleton staff.

Fingerprinting is proving to be an even greater challenge, since this process, by its very nature, requires in-person interaction. Most private fingerprinting agencies have closed. Some local police services have closed or only offer essential services, among which fingerprinting may not be included.

While criminal record checks can still be completed in Canada, they require identity verification, as per the RCMP guidelines. Traditionally, identity verification is done through an in-person inspection of applicants’ IDs by an authorized representative. While this process is still technically feasible, social distancing guidelines and the need for affected individuals to self-quarantine prevent direct interaction, whenever possible, which can make identity verification difficult.

Sterling Backcheck’s Adaptation to COVID-19 Measures in Canada and Around the World

Sterling Backcheck’s global outreach includes fulfillment in over 95% of jurisdictions across USA. Most international criminal services are deemed as essential business in some regions, while others have closed their doors due to their inability to offer services remotely.

On the Canadian front, Sterling Backcheck has risen to the challenges presented by Covid 19 and remains fully operational. All staff around the globe are working remotely in a secure online environment. To address the widespread closures affecting schools and employers, verification specialists have adopted a provisional document retrieval process. They are obtaining supporting documentation, such as diplomas or paystubs, to complete employment and education verifications whenever direct confirmation cannot be obtained from the source.

Canadian Criminal Record Checks continue without disruption. This search is based on applicants’ personal information, such as name and date of birth, and can therefore be completed online. Sterling Backcheck continues to provide Electronic ID Verification (eIV) as a best practice tool for authenticating applicants. In addition, we have worked with the RCMP, who has temporarily approved a remote identity verification process that bypasses the need for applicants who do not pass eIV to verify their identity in person.

Sterling Backcheck’s Commitment

Sterling Backcheck is committed to providing the foundation of trust and safety our clients need to create great environments for their most essential resource, people.

As we all continue to navigate our way through the pandemic of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, Sterling Backcheck is taking all necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of our employees, clients, partners, and the communities in which we live and work.

Compliance remains a driving force for Sterling Backcheck as we continue to offer our services to provide stability during these uncertain times. We are ready and available to help you navigate background screening in the face of COVID-19. In this recent webinar, we break down the challenges and provide more in-depth information. If you have any concerns, our teams are at hand to walk you through any questions you may have. Start a conversation here.

[1] BBC (March 2020). Coronavirus: Three out of four Americans under some form of lockdown.

[2] Eurydice Network (April 2020). How is Covid-19 affecting schools in Europe?

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.