August 12th, 2016 | Sterling

Understanding Global Screening

Hiring candidates who currently work or previously worked in other countries adds a layer of complexity and mystery to criminal record checks. Compliance with foreign privacy laws, the type of information available, budget, turnaround time and how to interpret results are all key considerations for most recruiters.

For example, I recently worked with a Canadian organization that historically sent candidates to the local police to obtain a Criminal Record Check – a typical scenario for employers in Canada, as police services can provide a comprehensive, nationwide search supplying the organization with all the information they desired.

While this process is completely acceptable for Canadian applicants, it is not necessarily best practice in other countries, as this organization discovered when they were recently looking to hire an individual from the United States.

Similar to their Canadian applicants, they asked an American to obtain a Criminal Record Check from local authorities. The applicant happily obliged and provided a ‘clear’ result for a Criminal Record Check from their local county. Assuming it was a comprehensive, nationwide search as it would be in Canada, the organization looked to place the applicant.

Thankfully, someone Googled the applicant’s name prior to offering a position working with children and uncovered many news articles naming the applicant as a sex offender.

Shocked, and legitimately confused, they did some research and learned the United States’ process for obtaining a comprehensive Criminal Record Check differs greatly from Canada. It is imperative to obtain a complete address history for an American applicant so you can drill down into each state and county of residence.

In this situation, the applicant had a myriad of sex offences over the past six years, but in a separate state from where he currently resides. This organization managed to catch the oversight before it was too late, but it underscores the importance of analyzing applicable law and industry specific considerations. Legal and regulatory requirements may impose obligations to screen your employees, even globally, for certain types of processing and in certain sectors and industries.

Generally speaking, there are three types of searches which can be positioned under the “criminal” category.

  1. Comprehensive Criminal: Not available in all countries, this involves a background screening company working directly with the local court, police service or other authority to obtain a comprehensive list of convictions/criminality.
  2. Applicant Obtained: Not available in all countries, this process requires the applicant to obtain their Criminal Record check directly from the same authorities listed above.
  3. Criminality: Available in all countries, this search scours various watch lists and adverse media to obtain a thorough background check on a candidate.

A Comprehensive Criminal search is ideal, but is not available in each country. Even when it is available, the cost or turnaround time may be discouraging.

For these reasons, it’s important to not only research what type of check is available and appropriate, but to weigh the availability of information and compliance concerns with your organization’s desire to monitor costs and turnaround time.

It’s also important to remember the definition of criminal activity can vary from country to country, and even region to region within a country. Consider the recent trend to legalize or decriminalize marijuana possession as an example.

To best prepare your organization for global screening challenges, research what level of check is required or appropriate in each jurisdiction, how accessible that level of check is and how the process might vary from your local area.

To learn more about best practices for screening job candidates in foreign countries and those who have lived, studied or worked across the borders or internationally, read our white paper: Background Screening for a Global Workforce

Background Screening For a Global Workforce

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.