COVID-19 has been an utter headache for nearly everyone participating in the professional and personal world. Many states shut down operations and required that businesses do the same. This required closure hurt many businesses, small and large. Many have in fact had to conduct layoffs or furlough employees as companies have seen less activity. As many states have reopened, others have encouraged lockdowns to curb the reason uptick in cases. Other states that haven’t seen this uptick are attempting to resume work as nearly to normal as possible. However, there has been a question amongst employers of furloughed employees on what to do about that large gap of active employment time.
Generally speaking, the decision to conduct a new background screening or drug screening is the employer’s decision in relation to local laws. Depending on the situation or position, this might be unnecessary. In other cases, this might be the best decision. Overall, crime in many major cities was lower as COVID-19 began to run its course and continued to do so. Assault, robbery, drug charges, and other violent crimes dropped in general around the 15 percentile in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco. However, other cities showed some spikes of crime that might have been significant to the geographic region.
In some positions where worker safety is concerned, a company may wish to run a drug screening recheck on all returning employees if the law permits. If an employee were chosen in a random drug testing pool while they were on furlough, an employer might choose to wait to send the employee in for screening until they have officially returned to work.
Making the distinction between a rehire/layoff and a furloughed employee when debating for a background check/drug screening is also important. Certain laws and regulations within specific cities or states might call for different processes. It is suggested for you to check your local city or state employment law regarding this distinction.
Whenever conducting a background screening, new employee or not, it is important to follow the rules and guidelines of the specific state you might be hiring in, even if the process has already been conducted before. If an employer chooses to rescreen their applicant, it is crucial that they ensure they have a disclosure and authorization form on file. For safe measure, we would suggest having the employee sign a new, up to date form, as many states require a new form 90 days after the original authorization. To prevent any legal risky action, it would also be suggested that all returning employees of the same position be checked if one is. Drug testing one employee in one position but not the other with the same title might be considered a form of discrimination. “Ban the Box” laws, if in effect in your state, will still apply regardless if employment screening has been done before. For some quick tips and a refresher regarding “Ban the Box” laws, you can check out our suggestions here.