November 9th, 2016 | Sterling

Operating Globally, Thinking Locally: Global Background Screening

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. Background screening is on the rise because of increasing globalisation, increasing complexity of the legal landscape and growing political instability. SterlingSM conducted a study in October 2015 of 175 HR professionals in the UK to get a better understanding of topics that are affecting the background screening industry, including anticipated changes in the workforce, screening priorities and concerns, challenges for background checks and best practices for global pre-hire screening. The results of the survey exemplified how companies view and use background screening in their hiring processes across all types of businesses and industries.

UK Background Screening Insights

The survey found that almost 40% of employers fail to conduct background screening on new hires in the UK. Of those that do screen, 64% of them screen all hires, but one in five companies that conducts screening has no official screening policy. That is why it is very important for a company to have the right screening process in place in order to prevent bad hires and detrimental damage to a company’s reputation and productivity.

When UK companies do background screening, they focus on screening candidates for executive, management and full time positions. Screening hourly, part time employees, contractors, temporary staff and volunteers seems to be less of a concern. According to the survey, when a company does complete pre-hire screening, they screen for the following:

  • Employee verifications – 68%
  • Right to Work – 62%
  • Criminal Records – 58%
  • Credit/Financial History – 30%
  • Verify Public Records – 7%

Global Background Check

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: the position being filled, regional and country specific laws and regulations and the political climate. Most organisations 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. Global screening is likely to increase in the next year due to an increase in the workforce, even with the Brexit decision this summer.

Today, over 55% of the current UK workforce was born outside the UK. Hiring foreign-born workers or workers who have lived and worked abroad can present screening challenges. European Union (EU) nationals can currently look for work at a job in another EU country without a work permit and even stay in that country after the work is finished. Compliance with foreign privacy laws, the type of information available, budget, turn-around-time and how to interpret results are key considerations for most recruiters. Brexit will obviously change this, but how has yet to be seen.

Global Background Screening Challenges

The reliability of criminal record checks varies widely by country and ongoing political upheaval and terrorism threats have further complicated hiring and transfers across countries (both in the European Union and elsewhere). These threats can make screening more difficult. But, there is also an increased risk that a candidate can negatively affect a company after hiring with CV or financial fraud.

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.

For those companies which do global screening, not all of them run every type of screening that are available: 4 out of 5 perform background screening for criminal records, 68% screen for employment verification, 59% screen for educational credentials and 35% screen for credit/financial history. This is a good start, but it is crucial for a business to create, review and update their background screening policies.

In-House vs Third Party Background Screening Sources

In this global workplace, if your company’s background screening policy requires any type of background check to be performed on a job candidate, it is crucial that no matter where that person has lived, worked or studied, you are using a programme that satisfies your hiring and screening policies. Pre-hire screening policies take place both in-house and outsourced for UK companies. Businesses will do reference interviews, education credentials, employment verification and right to work in-house while outsourcing credit/financial history, directorship search, criminal records and public safety verification. Sterling has a team of certified compliance and privacy professionals who track developments in the legal landscape to ensure that Sterling and its clients remain compliant.

Find out more survey results and information on background screening trends by downloading a copy of our report, Background Screening Trends and Best Practices Report 2016.

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.