November 10th, 2016 | Sterling

Creating a Background Screening Program For a Global Workforce


The world is becoming a smaller and smaller place. The global economy is bringing on the rise of the global workforce, who can work across borders and at any time. Organizations are seeking out workers in other countries as well as hiring candidates who have lived or worked internationally. Workers with international experience give a distinct advantage to a business while diversifying the workplace and filling in skill gaps. However, global hiring also comes with risks associated with international candidate recruiting. A business can be adversely impacted if they do not perform due diligence on workers who might later be responsible for on-the-job corruption, fraud or other crimes, and therefore impact brand reputation.

It is very important to remember that no background checks of any kind can be initiated without written authorization from a candidate. This usually happens when a company is ready to make a verbal or written job offer to a candidate.

Global Background Screening

What is global screening? A global background check is a collection of screening elements that could include a criminal record check, employment and education verifications, identity verifications or even reference checks. Global background checks will vary based on many factors including: position being filled, regional and country-specific laws and regulations and political climate. Most organizations employ people with some international experience. But, fewer than half of them conduct or plan to conduct global pre-hire background checks on these employees in the next year.

Currently, 3 out of 5 organizations in Canada employ local individuals with international experience. However, only 18% of these groups conduct global background checks on candidates who lived, studied or worked internationally.

In many countries there is more than one way to get background check information on an individual’s criminal convictions. Each of these methods will have a different timeline, set of requirements and pricing. Hiring and background screening questions will also vary per country. In some countries, questions about an applicant’s previous salary, general health and if they have ever been convicted of a crime unless directly relevant to the role, would be considered illegal. Most commonly used international background checks are:

  • Criminal Records – 71%
  • Verification – 66%
  • Identity and Authentication – 41%
  • Drug and Health Screening – 29%
  • Motor Vehicle Checks – 17%
  • Credit/Financial History – 14%
  • Social Media Checks – 55%
  • Other—5%

Creating a Global Background Screening Program

When implementing a global background screening program, an organization must take into account all applicable laws to determine which type of pre-employment background checks to conduct on job candidates. The 5 R’s for creating a global screening program are:

  • Responsibility: The program complies with all legal requirements & limitations. Consult with legal counsel to determine which laws apply and how to follow them.
  • Requirements: Fully understand any business requirements for background screening and turnaround times.
  • Relevant: Background screening should be relevant to the company’s industry and sector as well as the individual candidate’s potential role & responsibilities.
  • Results: Only use relevant background screening results that pertain to the position at hand.
  • Respect: Negative hiring decisions must take into account the candidates rights under Canadian local laws.

A big challenge for global background screening checks is the time it takes to complete the background check process. Turnaround time is longer for international background checks. The verifications can run two days for checks in Canada and the U.S. and sometimes 9 days or more for checks run internationally. It is important to remember that the definition of criminal activity can vary from country to country and even by region within a country. It is imperative to research what level of check is required in each country, how accessible that level of check is and how the process could vary from your local area. Weigh the availability of information and compliance concerns with your company’s desire to monitor costs and turnaround times.

Organizations must take this into consideration when developing their recruiting processes for foreign workers or candidates with international experience. Global screening involves running different types of background checks depending on the type of hire, regulated status of the position, level of risk the position poses to the organization and the past countries of residence.

Global Screening Compliance

As an organization creates its global background screening program to accommodate local laws and regulations, they must ensure it uses the results of background checks in compliance with Canada’s privacy, human rights, employment and other applicable laws. For any Canadian company that has operations in another country or hires employees with international experience, including in the U.S., implementing a thorough global background screening process is essential for reducing risk and making the best hiring decisions.

Using a reputable provider of employment screening and background checking services, such as Sterling Talent Solutions, to navigate the complexities of global compliance could save you from a whole world of costly errors. Find out more about how the global workforce is impacting the background screening industry by downloading a copy of 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.