Featured Image - Screening international employees: Do you know what’s required?

Screening international employees: Do you know what’s required?

Date Published: March 27, 2024 | By Rebecca Forsyth

With the UK being subject to its own privacy regulations like GDPR, are businesses aware of the screening procedures required when it comes to hiring teams of people internationally? Aga Szulbinska, our Head of Client Services, discusses what approach growing enterprises need to take, as well as any limitations they may face when it comes to employing candidates internationally.

Hiring internationally is becoming increasingly popular for a lot of businesses, especially since the pandemic, which has led to more people moving locations and working remotely, a trend made even easier by anti-discrimination legislation.

What has therefore also increased within this time is the physical distance between employer and employee. As a result, many more employers are also looking for additional ways to ensure they are hiring candidates who have the qualifications, experience, and characteristics to perform a role, regardless of their location. The number of international background checks being performed is rising as employers look to candidates with more diverse and international skillsets that are more likely to bring them the professional outlook they need to succeed.

An increasing number of businesses are looking to hire people who are already based internationally to save on costs usually associated with growing a company. This trend to recruit individuals from all around the world, who can then work remotely, is a characteristic we have seen pick up over the last few years resulting in a rise in the amount of international background checks Accurate is conducting.

Nevertheless, onboarding employees already familiar with and living in a foreign territory still comes with its challenges. One of the biggest limitations a lot of organisations face is the process of employee screening, what appropriate measures must be considered from a legal perspective and, crucially, whether they are in line with the particular country or countries involved.

When it comes to hiring internationally the first thing to understand is that the legal landscape in each country can and does vary. We would always recommend businesses consult with legal, HR, and data protection professionals with a deep understanding of the local landscape to ensure that any employment screening during the onboarding process is conducted in a compliant manner.

It’s also important to be aware of the type of information that is conventionally made available for employment or screening purposes, or indeed considered publicly available, in one country as it may not be available or be considered out of scope in another. We know that in certain countries criminal record certificates are not made available for general employment purposes or are only issued for specific professions, for instance, whereas they are generally accessible to all employers here in the UK.

In addition to this, direct access to other records, such as those in Hungary, may not be permissible by employers or third parties in some locations and, in others, the most compliant practice may be to ask the candidate to provide the information themselves for review.

Conversely, we’re also seeing other countries working to enhance the exchange of information between institutions to help ensure candidates really are suitable for a specific role. In Singapore, for example, the country’s Ministry of Manpower has introduced an Employment Pass style work visa for foreign personnel, which means their qualifications must be verified by an approved background screening provider before they are permitted to take up employment there.

And as digitalisation continues to advance, we can also expect to see further developments in data protection law generally, as well as the requirements and obligations put on employers when processing employee data, that will all have to be taken into account too. This in turn is also going to affect the employment screening process, not to mention the rights of a candidate in respect to their own data and is an issue likely to remain prominent as legislation attempts to keep up with changes in technology and its applications too.

So, as we look to the future – where remote working becomes the norm and workforces however big or small become increasingly global in nature – the pressure really is on businesses in all sectors and of all sizes to keep up with the ins and outs of international employment screening practices in the process.

To find out more about screening your employees internationally, contact us at UKenquiries@accurate.com.