In good and not-so-good economic times, the on-boarding process – recruiting, application, hiring and orientation – is critical for employers to attract and welcome new talent. In recent years, technology has enabled employers to perform all or a part of this process on-line, significantly increasing efficiency and reducing costs. Moving to a web-based on-boarding system, however, raises many workplace challenges and considerations, including the privacy, security and management of personal data collected in the process.

Following are some of the key challenges and considerations employers should think about when moving to electronic on-boarding:

  • Can the on-line process be the exclusive method for applying and on-boarding? Consider, for example, applicants who cannot access or view the site because of a disability.
  • Are there laws limiting the personal information that may be collected from applicants? See, for example, Utah Employment Selection Procedures Act discussed in our article and the Utah law
  • How must personal information collected during the process be safeguarded, retained, preserved, and ultimately destroyed? A recent class action was filed alleging failure to safeguard on-line job application information. 
  • Is the process subject to collective bargaining?
  • Are there special rules for government contractors? See Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) guidance
  • Are on-line consents for fitness-for-duty examinations, background checks, and drug testing valid? Can non-compete agreements be executed electronically?
  • Are there any specific issues/disclosures for public sector employees/applicants?
  • Can the I-9 verification/e-verify process be completed on-line?
  • Do the rules change for applicants from other countries?
  • If an applicant is hired, how does collected information about the person transfer accurately and securely for benefit plan enrollment, payroll, personnel, and other purposes?
  • Has the on-boarding vendor been vetted and shown capable of safeguarding personal data and preserving the integrity of that data? Where is data stored by the vendor? Are appropriate contract provisions in place?
  • Can benefit plan enrollment forms be completed on-line?
  • Can handbooks and benefit plan documents be provided on-line as part of the on-boarding process? See ERISA electronic disclosure regulations.

Employers implementing an electronic on-boarding process will certainly realize significant savings of time and money. However, those savings can be short-lived if the on-line process is not designed to address the risks inherent in the new medium.