Employee Background Checks in China: 3 Big Mistakes

Employee Background Checks in China: 3 Common Mistakes

Employee Background Checks in China: 3 Common Mistakes

May 6, 2024

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Key Takeaways

  1. Background checks in China are a late-stage step of the hiring process, involving making sure of an individual’s identity, employment history, education credentials, criminal record, and other relevant information
  2. While background checks in China are generally permitted, individuals’ rights must be respected throughout the process
  3. Cultural norms and unfamiliar local expectations regarding privacy may vary from those of an employer’s home country
Summary

 

Employee background checks in China are a crucial aspect of the hiring process, just like in any other market. In this guide, we will delve into the intricacies of conducting background checks on employees in China, exploring the types of checks available, legal considerations, common industries where background checks are most prevalent, and mistakes to avoid.

 

What are Background Checks?

 

Whether you’re a multinational corporation expanding into China or a local startup navigating the hiring landscape, understanding the nuances of employee background checks is essential if you’re trying to hire the best, especially if China is a new talent pool.

Background checks in China are a late-stage step of the hiring process, involving making sure of an individual’s identity, employment history, education credentials, criminal record, and other relevant information to assess their suitability for a particular role.

These checks help employers make informed hiring decisions, mitigate risks, and maintain a safe and compliant workplace environment. As they often deal with very personal or private details, mistakes in this process can be costly, with thousands of candidates negatively impacted each year.

 

Types of Employee Background Checks in China

 

In China, background checks can be used to verify almost every part of an employee’s CV, including:

 

  • Identity Verification – Confirming the identity of the applicant by consulting official sources like government-issued identification documents, passports, or other records either online or offline.
  • Employment History – Reviewing the candidate’s work history, including past employers, job titles, dates of employment, and reasons for leaving previous positions. This step generally involves reaching out to work references and helps assess the candidate’s experience and suitability for a role.
  • Education and Qualifications – Verifying the educational qualifications and certificates claimed by the candidate can include degrees, diplomas, certifications, and transcripts. Used mostly in industries requiring more academic knowledge and skills, this can also be essential in building up the documents needed to apply for visas when hiring internationally.
  • Criminal Record Check – Checking whether the candidate has a criminal record by accessing relevant databases or conducting criminal background checks is a less common but sometimes necessary step. This is particularly important for roles that involve vulnerable data or people groups.
  • Credit History – Some employers may wish to check a candidate’s credit history if a job requires financial responsibility and trustworthiness. However, this step rarely forms part of an employee background check in China.
  • Reference Checks – While most references can confirm past jobs, contacting the candidate’s references can also involve former employers, colleagues, or non-work references to gather insights into the candidate’s work ethic, skills, and character.

 

What Employers Should Know Before Running Employee Background Checks in China

 

Before initiating employee background checks in China, employers should be aware of local legal or cultural issues, including:

 

Are Background Checks Legal in China?

 

Yes, background checks are legal in China, but they must comply with relevant laws and regulations.

First and foremost, employers should adhere to data protection laws, such as the Cybersecurity Law and the Personal Information Protection Law, which govern the collection, storage, and use of personal information in China.

Beyond this, all employee background checks in China must be done only after first getting the candidate or employee’s consent. By having written consent, companies can also cover themselves against many possible future disputes.

 

What Types of Background Checks Are Illegal in China?

 

While background checks in China are generally permitted, individuals’ rights must be respected throughout the process. Certain types of checks, such as those about personal beliefs, are strictly prohibited under Chinese law in the same way as it is wrong to ask about a candidate’s family status.

Additionally, employers cannot access the Criminal Record Database directly as part of a background check and must seek a Certificate of No Criminal Conviction from local authorities instead.

In China, workplace discrimination may be based on factors such as ethnicity, gender, age, household registration, disability, medical status, or sexual orientation.

In general, any questions or checks not related to the job or which could be construed as discriminatory should be avoided.

 

 

Most Common Background Check Industries in China

 

Several industries in China may conduct background checks as part of regular hiring processes:

 

  • Finance and Banking – Due to the often sensitive nature of financial transactions, data, and regulatory requirements, finance and banking institutions will often conduct thorough background checks on employees.
  • Technology and IT – With the rapid growth of the technology sector in China, companies in this industry prioritize background checks to safeguard intellectual property and sensitive information.
  • Manufacturing and Supply Chain – Given the importance of reliability and integrity in manufacturing and supply chain operations, background checks are prevalent in these industries to ensure the trustworthiness of employees.

 

Common Background Check Mistakes to Avoid in China

 

While conducting employee background checks in China, employers should avoid the following common mistakes:

 

Incomplete or Incorrect Documentation

 

With administration in China being notoriously obscure, failing to obtain proper consent or documentation is an ever-present concern. Mistakes, even small ones, before conducting background checks can lead to serious legal complications and lengthy delays.

 

Relying Solely on Online Information

 

While online research can provide many valuable insights, it should not be the only way checks are conducted. Because of the amount of incorrect or outdated data available, employers should verify anything learned online through multiple sources to ensure accuracy and reliability.

 

Ignoring Cultural Sensitivities

 

Differing cultural norms and unfamiliar local expectations regarding privacy may vary from those of an employer’s home country.

Employers should be respectful of cultural sensitivities and communicate transparently with candidates about the purpose and scope of background checks to avoid falling foul of local labor laws, even if this requires more care for foreign companies than local ones. For example, while personal character may play more of a role in terms of hiring in China, foreign companies or employers should be wary of hiring in the same way.

A background checking service by a trusted third-party provider can be a safe and easy way to perform compliant checks as part of a hiring process in China.

 

employee background checks in China

 

Conclusion – How to Run Employee Background Checks in China Safely with INS Global

 

Performing safe and effective employee background checks in China requires careful attention to legal requirements, cultural nuances, and industry standards.

At INS Global, we specialize in providing comprehensive HR solutions to companies interested in successful international growth. This includes the option to run background checks as part of a secure recruitment outsourcing process guided by experts in local Chinese recruitment.

Since 2006, we’ve been helping companies achieve their expansion goals through tailored plans and expert support. By partnering with INS Global, you can streamline the entire hiring and employment process from start to finish, mitigate risks, and make informed hiring decisions with confidence.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can support your business objectives in China and 160+ countries worldwide.

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