Understanding International Background Checks in the Age of Privacy and Data Security Concerns
Alex Erlam, General Counsel, Vertical Screen Inc, USA
Background checks on applicants and employees are an increasingly common fact of life in the business world, particularly for financial services companies, healthcare providers and any business handling personal or sensitive data. However, as commerce becomes more global in scope, the need to conduct background checks on an international basis grows and becomes more complex. Many U.S. companies assume background checks are the same around the world as they are domestically. But, U.S. firms are permitted to ask for information that European employers would not and could not access. Additionally, U.S. employers can check information on U.S. applicants, such as credit history, that doesn't even exist in some countries. The difference between U.S. privacy laws and data security considerations and those of the E.U. and other countries is vast, a fact few employers fully understand. This paper explores the topic of international background checks, outlining the differences between U.S. and E.U. laws governing applicant screening; common misconceptions businesses have about what information can and cannot be used in making a hiring decision in different countries; and where the trend toward international background checks is headed.
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