Brrrrr it’s cold . . . and snowy . . . and icy!!!! No, this isn’t my way of forcing uncomfortable chitchat while we wait for a conference call to start. I actually have a point here.
The Winter of 2014 is wreaking havoc on employment background checks. More specifically, the winter weather has caused more courts to close in more jurisdictions across the country than I ever remember. And when the courts close, that delays criminal background checks. It seems like everyday I am receiving notices from multiple courts indicating that they are closed due to weather. Just within the last couple weeks, we were notified that all courts in the Kansas City area were closed as well as throughout the state of Missouri, Kansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee (parts of), Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, and Kentucky.
Even those in the Southeast portion of the country aren’t immune to this winter’s inclement weather. Last week, courts throughout the state of Alabama were closed due to winter storms and though I haven’t yet received any notifications today, I’d be shocked if the courts are open in North Carolina and Georgia.
Other Than Building A Snowman, What Can You Do?
Unfortunately, the short answer to this question is all that you can do is wait.
Twiddling your thumbs isn’t for you? Here are a few words of advice.
- If you are requesting employment background checks in any of the affected areas, it is important to be prepared for how you might handle these delays. Do you need to postpone start dates? Should you be reaching out to the candidate so that they don’t feel like they are twisting in the wind? Is the start date so important that you might be willing to allow them to begin working while the background check is still processing? (For the record, I really don’t like this option).
- The good news is that most of these courts only close for a day or two at most, so hopefully that won’t affect a candidate’s start date. However, when delays do occur, it is important not to deviate from your company’s safety and security policies. Any good background screening company will keep you informed about these delays so that you can plan accordingly.
- Further, just because your criminal background check is delayed shouldn’t mean that the other elements of your background check will be. Things like Motor Vehicle Records, Credit Reports, National Criminal Database checks, Employment and Education Verifications should still proceed as usual. It is okay to review these results, just don’t make your final hiring decision until the all of the information (including the criminal background check) is complete.