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Background checking global teams

Hiring tips
Luke Shipley

Luke Shipley

22nd August 2019

Background checking is complex enough when hiring in a single country. Background checking a globally distributed team, following local laws across jurisdictions is an insurmountable task unless you have a particular penchant for employment law.

I’m writing this series for tech companies trying to navigate the complexities of hiring a globally distributed team. I will be zeroing in on local laws to give a guide on what checks can be done and covering popular destinations in Europe, America’s and Asia.

Typically, background checking companies will seek to collect as much data as possible and keep hold of it, for as long as possible. You usually have to take their guidelines and unmask the bias. Zinc’s philosophy is to collect the least possible data to be safe and compliant and not to hold onto it. Instead, Zinc records the collection of data in a trusted way and gives it back to the individual for them to keep and re-use. Zinc is a provider of background checking tools. We strongly advocate privacy and respect anonymity. Therefore, we often face a moral dilemma as we break the mould.

Steps to follow before beginning checks

  1. Follow local laws:

    Always check local government guidelines first before carrying out checks in a new jurisdiction.

  2. Relevance to the role:

    Generally speaking checks are conducted when crucial for the work. Financial checks are usually conducted when dealing with money for instance, roles in financial service. Health checks for roles involving the operation of heavy machinery. Criminal checks for roles that involve working in healthcare or with children.

  3. Seek permission:

     Before conducting any checks, seek permission from the candidate. This isn’t required in many countries and is compulsory in others. But contacting the candidate first and making them aware of the checks at the start of a process is important.

  4. Check type guidelines:

    In most countries, employment references and education checks are permitted and are carried out. In most countries right to work checks and residency checks are permitted and carried out. These are so common globally that they are quite safe to have in a global process. Financial and criminal checks vary broadly. Criminal checks are common in Asia, Financial checks are not. Financial checks are common in America, criminal checks are not. Neither are commonplace for tech roles in Europe, in some countries they are not permitted.

For more information on reference checks and best practices, read Zinc's Complete guide to reference checks.

Europe

Europe has good data protection laws, the correct behaviour is enforced. In most cases, you have to ask permission from applicants and only relevant checks are permitted.

Background Checking Global Teams - Europe

UK

Essential: you must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants for all jobs. Checks are required in Healthcare, Government, Banking or childcare fields. For instance, 6 years of address history and employment checks are required in banking.

Permitted with restrictions: It’s uncommon to conduct credit or criminal checks. Healthcare & criminal checks require the role to be in finance, government healthcare or childcare.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks. Employers can conduct a credit check and a basic disclosure & barring (DBS) service check for any role.

EU citizens can work in the UK until 31st Dec 2020, they’ll need settled status afterward.

Belgium

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants.

Permitted with restrictions: Criminal, credit and health background checks are uncommon. In Belgium, the data is not publicly available. Only the data subject can request an extract criminal, credit or health records from the local authority. Any checks must be necessary and relevant to the work.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks.

France

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants.

Permitted with restrictions: Like Belgium, records in France are available only to the individual to whom they concern and cannot be obtained by the third party. Any checks must be necessary and relevant to the work.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks.

Germany

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants.

Permitted with restrictions: Any checks must be necessary and relevant to the work. Criminal, credit and health background checks are uncommon.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s uncommon to conduct employment references or education checks.

Greece

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants.

Permitted with restrictions: Any checks must be necessary and relevant to the work. All limitations on the processing of personal data apply to both the employer and any third party processing personal data.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks.

Hungary

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants. Criminal records must be checked in relation to occupations; Legal, Government & Financial Services. They are not permitted in other professions.

Permitted with restrictions: Like Belgium & France, records in Hungary are available only to the individual to whom they concern and cannot be obtained by the third party. Any checks must be necessary and relevant to the work.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks.

Italy

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants.

Permitted with restrictions: Criminal and credit reference checks are only permissible for specific roles (eg, certain finance positions). Any checks must be proportionate and relevant to the work.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks.

Netherlands

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants. Criminal records must be checked in relation to occupations; Legal, Government and Financial Services & FS. They are not permitted in other professions.

Permitted with restrictions: Criminal and credit reference checks are only permissible for specific roles (eg, government, finance, healthcare). Any checks must be proportionate and relevant to the work.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks.

Poland

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants.

Permitted with restrictions: Certain limited personal data can be requested from the candidate, as specified by the Polish Labor Code. Criminal and credit checks are only permitted if other laws apply for instance in government work. Initial medical examinations to confirm that there are no health reasons barring the person’s employment. Poland introduced compulsory criminal checks for those working in financial services in January this year.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks.

Russia

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants. Military compliance is required for young males.

Permitted without restrictions: Criminal and credit checks are permissible but they cannot be used to reject an application for employment. It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks.

Turkey

Essential: There are no legal restrictions on background checks under Turkish law. Under the Turkish Labour Code, the employer must keep a personnel file for each employee, though what the file must contain is not specified. Therefore, employers in Turkey generally keep employees’ criminal records, health reports, and so on, on file. The employer is not limited in requesting health or criminal records from the employee. It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks.

Spain

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants. For certain roles, the employee must provide a certificate proving that he or she does not have a criminal record.

Permitted with restrictions: Credit and criminal checks are uncommon. Any checks must be proportionate and relevant to the work.

Permitted without restrictions: Reference and education checks are permissible. Most companies and institutions prefer to deliver the information directly to the applicant so that he or she can pass it on.

Americas

The USA is arguably the most complex beast of them all with laws varying considerably from state to state. It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks. Background checks in the US and Canada are quite mature and deeply engrained. Contact us for specific advice on any specific states: hello@zinc.work.

Americas map

USA

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants.

Permitted with restrictions: Laws vary from state to state. Reference and education checks are common. Criminal background and credit checks may generally be performed in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local law, with an increasing number of state and local jurisdictions limiting criminal history questions on applications and permitting such checks only following a conditional job offer. Medical examinations and drug and alcohol screening are generally permissible if conducted post-offer and in accordance with applicable law.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks.

Argentina

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants. Criminal records must be checked in relation to occupations; Legal, Government & FS. They are not permitted in other professions.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks. Health checks are common for any role. Credit and criminal checks are less common but permitted for any role with consent.

Brazil

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID & residency check on applicants.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks. Health checks are common. Credit and criminal checks are less common but permitted for any role with consent.

Canada

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID & residency checks on applicants. Social insurance numbers need to be checked too.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks. Health, credit and criminal checks are common for any role. They are all permitted with consent. Strict anti-discrimination rules after checks apply.

Paraguay

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID check on applicants.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references and criminal checks. No restrictions apply for any other forms of checks.

Asia

In comparison to Europe and America’s, there are few restrictions on background checking. You often don’t have to seek consent and it rarely matters which sector you’re hiring for as to which checks you can apply.

Australia

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID checks on applicants.

Permitted with restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks. Credit, criminal and health checks are permitted with applicant’s consent and subject to relevant discrimination laws. Offers of employment may be subject to criminal record checks or medical examination (if necessary to determine fitness for a particular job).

India

Essential: None

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks. Health, credit and criminal checks are common for any role. There’s no statutory requirement to conduct a proof of right to work ID checks on applicants but it’s advisable. Since a visa stamp/sticker in the employee’s passport will include the name of the employer, and the employer will be required to provide an undertaking to the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) on behalf of the employee to register the employee with the FRRO.

Hong Kong

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID checks on applicants.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks. Health, credit and criminal checks are common for any role. They are all permitted with consent.

Pakistan

Essential: There are no regulatory requirements for pre-hire.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s uncommon to conduct any background checks. There’s no way for employers to check an applicant’s credit/financial records.

Japan

Essential: There are no regulatory requirements for pre-hire.

Permitted with restrictions: It’s uncommon to conduct employment references or education checks, they are difficult to acquire. Criminal & credit background checks are allowed, but are discouraged by the labor bureau. There should be a strong need to justify such checks.

New Zealand

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID checks on applicants.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks. Health, credit and criminal checks are permitted with consent for any role.

Singapore

Essential: You must conduct a proof of right to work ID & residency checks on applicants.

Permitted without restrictions: It’s common to conduct employment references or education checks. Employers may also require the prospective candidate to undergo a medical examination and produce evidence of qualifications. No restrictions apply other than applicant consent.

Philippines

Essential: There are no regulatory requirements for pre-hire.

Permitted without restrictions: Philippine labor law leaves it to the management prerogative of employers to provide for pre-hire checks. Employers usually require applicants to submit their national ID, Social Security System ID Number, Tax Identification Number, and birth certificate.

Sources

For more information on reference checks and best practices, read Zinc's Complete guide to reference checks.


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