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Criminal Records and Background Checks in the Gig Economy

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December 12, 2018 Return to News & Events

Criminal Records and Background Checks in the Gig Economy

The so-called gig economy has become a significant avenue toward employment for a large part of the economy. But what is the gig economy and how do background screening policies affect those employed?

The Gig Economy is defined by Wikipedia as a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs. The gig economy as labelled is a relative new phenomenon in the economy insomuch that so many companies work under this business model.

From the Guardian (Dec. 06, 18):

The “gig” economy was supposed to be an opportunity for entrepreneurs to be their own boss. Everyone from Uber to Postmates, Lyft, Airbnb, Turo and Parklee have all sold themselves as platforms for freelancers and would-be entrepreneurs to work for themselves. (1)

Background screening in the gig economy remains a critical concern, just as it would for traditional employment.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: “There is a legal difference between someone being an employee and someone being an independent contractor. Many of the platforms used in the gig economy such as Uber, Lyft, and Postmates may push for the label of independent contractor as the laws governing that title can be less stringent than “employee”. Nonetheless, background screening remains a critical tool in risk mitigation within these types of enterprises.”

In the gig economy criminal histories are often used as part of a background check but the rules governing this use is not well defined and, subsequently, results can be confusing.

Almeida states: “Background checks are all about risk mitigation, and criminal history is an important part of that mitigation. In fact one might call the use of criminal histories integral because in some cases a history can be predictive of future behavior.

From (Dec. 07, 18) discussing criminal records:

But not all criminal background records are equal, and not all criminal records are predictive of future dangerous behavior. What’s more, because gig-economy platforms like to classify their workers as independent contractors, would-be and current workers aren’t usually granted the same legal protections against discrimination as applicants or hires classified as employees. So there’s a difference between those looking to work at a grocery store or office building versus those looking to work for TaskRabbit or Amazon Flex. Given that many gig workers shift across multiple platforms, it can also be hard to discern what might be disqualifying on one platform and what isn’t on another. And just as workers with criminal records deserve to understand how past convictions might affect their opportunities, customers who use gig platforms deserve to understand how these companies decide who will greet you on the other side of an app request. (2)

Almeida states: “Until laws governing background screening become employment specific to the gig economy, business owners should stay current with existing laws. As the manner in which people find employment changes, the laws will eventually catch up, and hiring managers should stay fully compliant with potential and existing law by working with a third-party pre-employment background screening agency, such as” is a third-party background screening company that can provide compliant solutions for all screening requirements. From pre-employment to post-hire screening, as well as volunteer, caregiver and nanny checks, provides background screening services across a broad array of industries. From the smallest organization to the largest corporation, can fulfill every background screening requirement.



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