International employment background checks: global challenges

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Jordie Black
Updated on:

For employers looking to hire international candidates, conducting background checks is a crucial part of the hiring process. As this process can be complex and legally challenging, employers must take into account the unique considerations of requesting checks on candidates who have lived or worked outside of the employer's home country.

In this article, we discuss the key components of these international background checks, from legal considerations to data protection regulations to cultural considerations. With this advice, employers can ensure that their background checks are thorough and effective when recruiting international talent.

You’ll learn:

  1. The legal considerations when conducting global background checks
  2. The common challenges faced by employers
  3. The benefits of using a verification service or third-party tool 
  4. The importance of data security when dealing with cross-channel, global hires and background checks

The challenges of international background checks

International background checks can be a challenge for employers, especially when a candidate has a global or multi-national background. These types of checks require particular expertise and resources, as employers must be aware of different laws and regulations in other countries.

Additionally, employers must be mindful of cultural and language differences when conducting an international background check. There are also potential legal and privacy implications to consider. Employers must ensure that they are compliant with applicable laws and regulations in the applicable countries, as well as applicable global laws and regulations like GDPR. The complexity of conducting an international background check requires employers to have thorough processes in place in order to ensure a thorough and accurate check.

Legal considerations

When hiring foreign nationals, employers must take care to consider the unique legal considerations associated with the process. Depending on the country, certain information—such as security numbers and credit history—may not be accessible to employers due to local restrictions.

Additionally, employers must be aware of any rules and regulations regarding the disclosure of background check data and use the information solely for hiring purposes.

Beyond data privacy, employers should also consider any applicable anti-discrimination laws in the country, as well as the foreign worker’s visa status. With these considerations in mind, employers must ensure they are compliant with all applicable laws to avoid any potential legal issues in the hiring process.

Case-by-case analysis

When considering international background checks, employers must take a case-by-case approach. Every country has its regulations and policies regarding background checks. For example, in many European countries, including the UK, France, Germany and Italy  employers are prohibited from running checks that could reveal a candidate's political opinions, or union membership status. However, Denmark allows for this type of check to happen with restriction and only in certain cases. 

It is important to research the data privacy laws of each country and understand the practices that are allowed and those that are prohibited. Additionally, employers should be aware of the differences in how background checks are conducted in different countries and regions.

The best way to ensure compliance is to take a case-by-case analysis, understanding the different regulations in each country and the procedures that must be followed.

We’ve recently launched our global background-checking tool that enables you to filter by country, or continent or check the type and see the recommended checks for that country.

Within each country's page, it’s also possible to get a clearer idea of the checks we offer in each country and how long you can expect them to take.

Caveat: The data listed in this tool was accurate at the time of research, however, it does not constitute legal advice and should be used for educational purposes. 

Verification services

Conducting an international background check on potential employees is often challenging. Employers should use tools and resources designed specifically for this purpose to ensure accuracy and consistency when reviewing international backgrounds.

For example, you can use global background check software to verify credentials and examine legal documents worldwide. 

By using the right tools, employers can navigate the challenges of international background checks and rest assured that important details about the candidate’s background have been checked. 

When recruiting candidates from abroad, employers must conduct due diligence to ensure they hire the right person. Verification services play an important role in verifying the credentials and information provided by prospective employees.

This includes checking their education and employment background, verifying their references, and conducting identity and criminal record checks. These services can uncover potential fraud and give the employer a comprehensive overview of the candidate’s background. In addition to helping reduce the risk of hiring someone with a criminal record, employers can also benefit from the additional layer of assurance that a background check provides.

Verifying the credentials of an international applicant is a complex process and requires specialised knowledge and expertise. Employers should take the time to research different services, review the fees and turnaround times, and ensure they are working with a reliable and reputable provider that can provide a comprehensive verification report.

Data Protection Regulations

Data protection regulations are an important factor to consider when conducting international background checks. Countries worldwide have enacted laws to protect the privacy and security of personal data, and these laws must be taken into account when conducting employee screenings.

Some countries have laws that limit the types of data that can be collected and regulations on how that data can be stored or shared. These laws can vary drastically between countries, requiring organisations to be familiar with the regulations of each country to remain compliant.

Companies should consider consulting with a lawyer, or another trusted advisor, to ensure that they comply with all applicable data protection laws before beginning any international background checks.

Cultural considerations

When conducting international background checks, it's important to keep in mind the various cultural differences that may be present. Depending on the country, different values, norms and laws may apply to background checks, so it's essential to research and understand the relevant laws and regulations.

Additionally, research should be conducted on the cultural norms of the country to ensure that procedures are conducted in an ethical and respectful manner. In some cases, additional measures such as language assistance and sensitivity training may be needed to ensure a smooth and successful background check process.

Thorough research

It is imperative to conduct thorough research when performing background checks for international candidates. Your research should include researching the candidate’s legal documents, including but not limited to driver’s licenses, criminal records, and educational or employment certificates.

Other areas to research include obtaining and verifying references and previous employers, as well as conducting credit checks. We must also be mindful of the limitations imposed by certain countries, such as privacy laws, that could hinder conducting a comprehensive background check. In addition, due to currency and language barriers, some international research efforts may require more resources than usual, making it even more important to conduct detailed research.

Zinc offer background checks in over 190 countries, helping employers stay compliant, no matter where they hire. 

If you’d like to see how your business could benefit from automated, complaint background and reference checks, get in touch today. 

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