There are many reasons for background screening delays in the COVID-19 Era, but we are seeing improvement – On average, RSI is currently returning criminal records in less than 30 hours and verifications in less than 48 hours


It’s no secret that COVID-19 has affected almost EVERYTHING.  Many of you know that this also goes for the background screening process.  But what is causing the delays and what does the future look like?


The criminal portion of background checks have been affected by county court closures.  Many of the courts reduced staff, closed operation to the public, or closed completely, sending their entire staff home. This is affecting our researchers’ availability to access court records in a timely manner.


In recent months, due to the decline in COVID positivity rates, most areas of the country are showing signs of improvement. However some county jurisdictions remain slow to open to full capacity and are still limited to clerk assisted searches by appointment only. Other states remain delayed due to many months of backlogged orders. The states most affected are California, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee, while Kentucky continues to be the most impacted state. Kentucky does have a Statewide criminal record search which we feel is adequate to use and has a faster turn-around time versus waiting on the direct county court records. Unfortunately, Kentucky charges a $25 fee to access this search and the additional cost should be weighed against the faster turn-around time. This is not a permanent fix for Kentucky as we still prefer to rely on county searches for the most up-to-date and accurate results; however, it has proven to be a temporary solution. As a client of RSI, you will see daily updates for court closures on the welcome page of our system along with the most recent reason for the delay.


Education verifications are another area of our operation affected by COVID as many colleges and high schools switched to virtual learning. This has limited their access to documents necessary to conduct the verifications.  We are still able to access many college records available on the National Student Clearinghouse database or work with applicants directly to receive reliable and verifiable documentation to verify education.


Drug testing and physicals are also greatly impacted as many medical facilities were not allowing non-essential services in order to reduce exposure to the virus.  This greatly affected DOT employers who have to send employees for random breath alcohol tests.  Lastly, some medical clinics shut down all services in order to become COVID-19 testing sites further reducing the number of locations available for drug and alcohol testing.


As the nation continues to re-open, we are seeing many clients hiring new employees or re-hiring individuals that were either furloughed or completely terminated due to COVID-19.  While it is common to run a new background check on individuals that were terminated and going through a new hiring process, many companies are reviewing their options on running a new background check on furloughed employees that are simply returning to work.  For any new employee, many of our clients have implemented hiring on a contingent basis.  This means the employer will allow the applicant to start work for the company; however, the final job offer is contingent on the acceptance of the completed background check results. Of course, for additional advice, we advise you to contact your company’s legal counsel for processes that best fit your policies.


For the most part, county courts are reopened and the background screening research process is improving every day. As the Center for Disease Control continues to improve our country’s outlook against COVID-19, we will continue to see the courthouses remain open and processing the backlog of orders. We anticipate normal business operations as early as this summer.



Reference Services, Inc is headquartered in Evansville, IN and has remained one of the premier employment background screening companies in the country. Clients representing almost every industry imaginable rely on RSI to provide fast, accurate and legally compliant background checks on their applicants so they can hire a more productive, safer, and reliable workforce.

Give us a call at 812-474-9000 or email

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