strategic HR inc. Wheel of HR Services highlighting the Recruitment wedge.

Temporary Employees and Background Checks


We had a fabulous temporary working for us from a temporary agency. We decided to hire the individual and ran them through our process including conducting a background check. The results were shocking…we thought the temporary agency had already verified their background. How should I handle this going forward to ensure this doesn’t happen again?


Many companies do treat temporary employees differently when it comes to background checks and only realize it when it’s too late – when they try to hire the individual. The staffing company said they ran a “background check” before they placed the individual with you, but when you compare the results of your own verification versus the staffing company’s, it hits you: If you would have run your own background check first, instead of relying on the staffing company’s, you would never have considered the individual in the first place. Now what???

Unfortunately, this situation is all too common. For some reason, employers allow temporary workers into the organization without knowing anything about the “background check” the staffing company performed prior to coming to work for your organization.

Did they just run a database search? Maybe they just entered the employee’s name in a local county records website or just Googled the person. Or, even more disturbing, maybe they didn’t research the person at all!

The term “background check” is very broad. When working with temporary employees, make sure your staffing company is running quality courthouse background research before you let them place temporary personnel with your organization.

Here are some tips:

  1. Ask to see the reports! Don’t assume that you and the staffing company agree on what constitutes a “background check”. Chances are that you don’t and your standards might be significantly higher. Set the expectations on what screenings you want them to run.
  2. Make sure your searches include county criminal research. County research is the best place to find if a felony or misdemeanor charge exists for an individual and also helps ensure legal compliance with FCRA.
  3. Don’t be fooled by a “federal” search. This check certainly has a place, but can be misleading. It sounds all-encompassing but most crimes are state crimes, NOT federal. Most people who have a criminal past would come back clean on a federal search.

If you currently run pre-employment screenings before you bring someone onboard, you already know the importance of this verification process. Don’t put your company and employees at risk. Make sure employees from staffing companies meet the same expectations as direct hires.

A special thanks to Matt Messersmith, President, with Signet Screening inc. for his expert contribution to our Question of the Week. If you have questions for Matt, contact him at or 513.330.6695 or visit Signet’s website at

Does the thought of hiring someone make your head spin? Perm, temp, temp-to-perm, intern…drug screens, background checks, physicals, references, assessments – we can help you make sense of it all. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of the process, strategic HR inc. can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment solutions.