For many organizations, the reliance on third-party contractors is a lucrative part of your business model. Yet managing contractor risk is an ongoing challenge – especially for industries with changing regulatory environments such as manufacturing or utilities. And in today’s media arena, where corporate responsibility is held to highly visible and often-unforgiving social standards, it’s more important than ever to play by the rules when bringing in outside contractors. Failure to ensure compliance upfront can lead to problems down the road. In this blog, we’ll offer a few practical tips to help your company play it smart from the start; that is, in the hiring phase.
How can you ensure your contractors are meeting official government requirements and aligned with current regulatory obligations? Often it comes down to how your business manages the necessary paperwork. From the time of initial hire, each contractor comes with a small pile of paperwork. This includes everything from current tax forms, insurance certificates, waivers, non-disclosures and certifications. It’s up to hiring organizations to request the correct documentation upfront, store it where it’s easily accessible, and stay on top of changing regulations that may require modifications or additional documentation.
Yet despite the importance of proper data collection and storage, too many organizations still rely on manual, old-fashioned methods. Internal staff are often entrusted to enter contractor data into a spreadsheet, verify its accuracy, and file it away using paper copies. This manual method is not only a significant misappropriation of resources; it also opens the door for errors that may later pose challenges in the event of an audit. The solution? Hiring organizations can streamline the burden (and reduce the the risk of error) with contractor-management software that does most of the heavy lifting. After data in entered initially, this type of solution will automatically keep track of expirations and other critical dates to proactively notify both contractors and hiring organizations when an action is required.
SMART TIP: Contractor-management software also ensures paperwork is stored in a secure, central hub in the cloud. This makes your records easy to access when needed and provides a dated trail to prove compliance.
2. Keep Detailed (And Ongoing) Records Of Individuals
For new staff, the right details matter from the start. Third-party contractors should be stored in your system by both name and qualifications, beginning (or ideally, before) the day of hire. Be sure to gather this information upfront from the contractor or contractor company – these records will be instrumental in helping your organization keep track of the individuals behind each contract.
Also, it’s important to note that with a manual process, your record-keeping for contractors is not a set-it-and-forget-it deal. Over time, contacts expire. Certifications need to be renewed. There may be changes in a contractor’s compliance status that requires action -- and you’ll want to have a plan in place that allows you to effectively communicate those changes as they occur. By automating your record-keeping with software, you essentially CAN “set it and forget it” after the initial hire, by relying on features that alert you to missing details, expired documents and other information that needs renewing. This relieves the administrative burden, and is the best way to ensure updates are continuously communicated and completed.
SMART TIP: Hiring organizations can also save time with software that offers in-app messaging tools which send reminders directly to contractors.
3. Be Properly Equipped
For third-party contractors who are needed to operate specialized machinery or equipment, be sure to request whatever supporting documentation is required. Hiring qualified workers with the right licenses and certifications is obviously paramount for everyone’s safety. In the hiring process, you’ll want to list specifics about the equipment being used on your worksites – and more importantly, have prospective contractors submit the required supporting documentation prior to showing up for work.
SMART TIP: Does your worksite require specialized skills or licenses? Hiring organizations can use contractor-management software to focus their search on only the most qualified workers with specific expertise.
All in all, these practical tips should serve as best practices for hiring organizations of every size. Ensuring your records are complete, organized and easy to access helps your company stay in compliance – not just during the hiring process, but over time. The good news is that it doesn’t have to cost anything to enjoy the efficiencies that contractor-management software creates: Contractor Compliance offers easy-to-use software that costs zero dollars for your hiring organization. Learn more now about the benefits it provides or feel free to contact us with questions or to request for a free demo.