Demand That Your Painting Contractor Background Check and Drug Screen

Jeremy Holderness

Painting contractor drug testing signImageWorks Painting conducts background checks and drug screenings on all of our qualified employee applicants. Because of this and a variety of other reasons, we turn down the overwhelming majority of our applicants.  Approximately 70% of all those who consent to our process either test positive for banned substances and/or have a felony record revealed during the check.  

If you're wondering why these numbers might seem significantly higher than the national average for employers in other fields, it's because they are.  It undoubtedly speaks to the fact that we conduct these checks consistently and without exception, as an SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) poll revealed that only a little more than half (57%) of all employers drug test job candidates, and only 69% of them conduct criminal background checks on those candidates.

But more importantly it speaks to the fact that the construction trades -- and especially the painting industry -- contains a disproportionate amount of workers that would be virtually unemployable in almost any other line of work.  Yes, painters have a bad reputation, and for a large number of them it's well-earned.


Who's Working In Your Home?

From my two decades of experience I can also say with certainty that far more home improvement companies hire their employees without having subjected them to a drug screening or a background check than do companies in most other industries.  I make this claim because I've personally conducted a couple hundred interviews and reviewed probably three times that many applications, so I'm intimately familiar with the labor pool in our industry.

I can also tell you that during my time on the material supply side of the industry I've witnessed many a painting contractor cut corners in the hiring process out of shear desperation and necessity in getting key positions filled on their crews because they simply don't have enough legitimately "employable" applicants to choose from.

In fact, back in 2007 when I ran my own painting business in Columbus, Ohio, we used to pick-up supplemental work from one of the largest franchise painting companies in the U.S.  The first time we met with them they basically hired us on the spot to perform residential painting work, after confirming that we had the manpower and the equipment to get the jobs done.  At no point in time was anyone on any of our crews asked to consent to a drug screening or a criminal background check.  They agreed on a Monday to supply us with ongoing work, and by Tuesday morning we were working in their customers' homes.


How Checks & Screenings Can Keep You Safe & Happy

Neil Fortner, DATIA (Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association) Chairman said, “The data show that drug testing can create a more stable, productive and safe workplace.”

A SHRM/DATIA poll found that after implementing a drug testing policy:

  • 20% of companies showed an improvement in productivity
  • Over 50% of companies showed a decrease in absenteeism rates
  • Over 50% of companies showed a decrease in workers' compensation incidents
  • Roughly 10% of companies showed a decrease in employee turnover

This directly translates into your project being more likely to get completed on-time, and less likely for there to be accidents on your property.


As far as background checks go...I don't know that I need to explain the importance of this to you and your family in detail.  I'll just let you know that during our criminal background checks we've uncovered everything from robbery to murder to various forms of sex offenders.  I know that I wouldn't want any of these people in my home around my family.


Why Aren't All Painting Companies Screening Their Workers?

It Takes Time & Resources

While many companies will call previous employers to find some information about a candidate's employment history, spending the time and money to conduct a thorough background check and sending a new hire to a medical facility for testing is in many cases beyond their budget and the amount of time they have to devote to bringing on new workers -- especially given the fact that the people doing the hiring are not human resources staff, they're often the owner or office manager...and they have lots of other things they'd rather be doing.

But They Seem Nice...

Yes, the old "they seem nice to me" mentality.  I've heard way too many times the owner of a painting business say they hired a worker because they hit it off with them during the interview, and "he seemed like a good guy so I hired him".  And the people that these companies are putting in your home are only vetted by a hunch.  That wouldn't fly in my home!

Customer Service Is Not A Priority To Them

I'm not suggesting that most companies don't care about their customers -- although some certainly don't.  I'm suggesting that they feel they know what's best for themselves and for you, and they believe that as long as they're in control of the situation nothing bad will happen.  If these types of business owners were honest, they'd tell you that they have a business to run and the customer should just stay out of the way and leave them to their work.  I've heard quite a few owners of businesses say that very thing in private conversations with me over the years.


How Do I Know That The Painting Contractor I Want To Hire Follows This Policy?

When you're interviewing your painting contractor, ask them straight out if they drug screen and background check their workers.  Take it a step further and ask them to show you proof that they do because you're diligent about the safety of your family and your home.  If they don't respect that then find another company to do business with.

While there are privacy issues that will most likely prevent a company from divulging specific details about their workers' past, they can certainly provide you with some proof of the resources that they use to dig up any dirt on potential new hires.


Bottom line...Don't expect that the owner of a painting company has the same values as you have, and don't assume that they care nearly as much about your safety as you do.  You owe it to yourself to be sure.

After all, those 70% of the applicants that don't meet our standards at ImageWorks Painting are not staying unemployed forever.  They are most certainly finding work in their trade somewhere, and likely for another company in our area.  So make sure that you're only dealing with contractors who truly take customer satisfaction and safety seriously.



If you're located in the Greater Pittsburgh or Western Pennsylvania areas and would like some assistance with your house painting project please give us a call at 724-898-2446, visit our 'Contact Us' page, or click on the button below to have us contact you.


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photo by: Francis Storr / CC BY 2.0














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