The Impact of the Government Shutdown on Background Screening
As you may be aware, Congress was unable to reach an agreement on the spending bill, resulting in the government shutting down October 1, 2013 at midnight. As a result, some government services that employers rely on for their pre-employment screening and hiring processes will not be available. This may impact the timeliness and completeness of certain background screening components. It remains to be seen how long the shutdown will continue and what the wider impact will be, but the following are a few points to keep in mind.
Background Checks: Court Delays and Website Shutdowns
With so many different components and types of searches, employment background checks will be subject to delays during the current government shutdown. Here is a short list of components that will be affected and their implications to you as an employer:
- The US Department of Education has shut down its website to verify the accreditation of schools and learning institutions.
- Federal Courts are still in operation at this time, as is the PACER system that maintains federal court records. However, by mid-October, if the shutdown is still ongoing, the PACER system will not be operational.
- Criminal courts in the Washington D.C. area are experiencing delays at this time.
- All other county and state criminal records searches will not be affected by the shutdown of the federal government.
- The National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) will not be affected by the shutdown.
E-Verify Not Operational During the Shutdown
E-Verify services will not be available during the government shutdown. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) communicated the policies below regarding E-Verify:
"We understand that E-Verify's unavailability may have a significant impact on your company's operations. To minimize the burden on both employers and employees, the following policies have been implemented:
- The 'three-day rule' for E-Verify cases is suspended for cases affected by the shutdown. We'll provide additional guidance once we reopen. This does NOT affect the Form I-9 requirement—employers must still complete the Form I-9 no later than the third business day after an employee starts work for pay.
- The time period during which employees may resolve TNCs [Tentative Nonconfirmations] will be extended. Days the federal government is closed will not count towards the eight federal government workdays the employee has to go to SSA or contact DHS. We will provide additional time once we reopen.
- For federal contractors complying with the federal contractor rule, please contact your contracting officer to inquire about extending deadlines.
- Employers may not take any adverse action against an employee because of an E-Verify interim case status, including while the employee's case is in an extended interim case status due to a federal government shutdown (consult the E-Verify User Manual for more information on interim cases statuses)."