The “gig economy,” also known as the on-demand economy, typically hires contractors as consumer or business demand necessitates them. The name derives from people working a “gig” or assignment versus regular full-time employment.

Gig workers include individuals working in the sharing economy (ride, housing sharing, etc.) to displaced or retired executives who become highly paid consultants. Even though workers in the gig economy are contractors and not traditional “W-2” employees, the need for background checks is still paramount, as the risks to one’s brand, as well as negligent hiring and retention liability remain threats to any company or organization.

From the customer perspective, it makes no difference if the individual performing the work is the company’s contractor. That individual represents the company to the purchasing public. An implicit expectation is that this worker has been properly vetted, and does not pose a risk to the personal safety or financial well-being of the consumer.

Courts certainly have shown through case law that companies are liable for the actions of their workers, whether they are a W-2 employee, or an independent contractor. Viral social media will also ignore the worker’s taxable work status. Viral social media will highlight the company’s negligence in not properly vetting their workers, causing potentially irreparable harm to the company’s brand.

When seeking to perform background checks, ensure that your firm engages with a reliable background screening company that is also a consumer reporting agency. Further ensure that a “best practices” background check is performed. As no criminal database exists that covers the entire country, performing additional county criminal checks, checking maiden or alias names and more, is critical.

Posted by: Rudy Troisi, President and CEO, Reliable Background Screening

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