5 Best Practices for Global Workforce Background Screening

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As the workforce of many organizations becomes more globalized, new challenges are created in maintaining an effective and compliant employment background screening program.

Organizations that expand their operations overseas, or utilize workers who have lived, studied, or worked in a foreign country, must ensure that they adapt their background screening policies to address this global workforce, or they may be exposed to security and compliance risks.

As the 2011 HireRight Employment Screening Benchmarking Report illustrates, some of the risks and challenges of global background screening include varying international regulations on employment background screening as well as cultural and social differences in the hiring process.

These challenges can make it difficult for employers to verify identity, criminal record history, education and other background checks that are common practices for U.S-based workers.

To help mitigate the risks of making poor international hiring decisions and falling out of compliance, organizations should evaluate and update their background screening programs to include multi-national background checks. Here are five best practices for a successful global background screening policy.

1. Outline the Existing Background Screening Process
Whether you have one or one hundred workers with an international background, research how the human resources department currently handles background screening for these individuals. If your organization has any offices or uses contractors overseas, then make a list of where each office is located and all of the foreign nations where workers in those locations may have lived, studied or worked previously.

Check with the management team for any plans that might affect a global background screening policy – such as outsourcing or international expansion. This information will help your organization to map out a global background screening policy going forward.

2. Check Employment Screening Regulations in Each Country
For each country where workers have personal, work and education history, find out if there are existing regulations with respect to background screening. Failure to meet a country’s regulations could result in your organization being out of compliance in that country or open up your organization to claims that your background screening process is discriminatory or other claims by workers.

To better understand foreign regulations, many organizations will enlist the help of local experts in each country by retaining local legal counsel or reaching out to members of the foreign consulate.

3. Consider Culture
Navigating differences in cultural and social norms is another great reason to enlist a local expert in shaping your employment screening policy. Although your global background screening policy may be in compliance with a country’s regulations, that does not ensure that the policy will seem appropriate or within normal bounds to the workers themselves.

Processes like calling prior employers to verify a worker’s history may seem normal to U.S.-based workers, but can be disconcerting to workers from different cultural backgrounds. To help ensure a better applicant experience, educate the incoming workers about the employment screening policy, what background checks they can expect and why.

4. Create a Consistent Employment Background Screening Policy
According to the HireRight Employment Screening Benchmarking Report, 75 percent of employers conduct background checks on new employees globally, but only 16 percent of employers screen new non-employees or contingent workers.

This opens up a large gap for workers with a history of negligent or criminal behavior, or without the right education, licensing and certification to slip through the background screening process unnoticed. When you create a global background screening policy, it is recommended to keep the policy consistent across employee and non-employee workers.

5. Roll-out and Enforce the Employment Background Screening Policy
Employers may look to a background screening provider to better integrate new global checks into their existing screening program. This can help make the transition to a new global policy easier for human resources personnel. To help ensure that the global screening policy is properly enforced, hold sessions with members of the employment screening team to educate them about the risks of not screening international workers.

If your organization currently hires international workers, or plans to in the future, then you should consider a global screening policy to better mitigate hiring risks.

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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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