What is a Background Check?

Background check is a comprehensive investigation done on various aspects of the candidate's public (criminal) records, employment history, address verification and educational qualifications.

Why is Background Check Necessary?

When an employee enters an organization, it is important for the organization to know about the employee's background. In India, today, where most employers rely on the resume submitted by the candidates as a determinant of their capacity to serve using their supposed skill set, background check has become a necessity. Businesses get background checks done for potential employees as it provides them information about genuineness of a candidate’s resume.

Hiring and recruiting are both time-consuming and costly investments. It is important to safeguard these investments by conducting a thorough background check. This short-term investment will always yield benefits in the long run.

Many job applications have discrepancies. So, a thorough background check is vital for selecting a deserving candidate suitable for the job. An in-depth background check, through a well-researched background verification process, before hiring the candidate, can help protect the reputation of the company from potential negative publicity often brought about by employees caught up in scandals.

Employers are also responsible for the actions of their employees. Therefore, this should serve as an incentive to make the correct hiring decision. Background checks help to ensure workplace safety by verifying criminal records of the potential candidates.

How is Background Verification Done?

BGV (background verification) can be done by accessing the information shared by the candidate or those available in online space. For checks like- credit, Identity (Passport, Aadhaar, PAN etc.), Criminal, Global database and adverse media, education checks etc. can be accessed online through govt. database or online repositories. For employment and reference check, reaching out to previous employers or manager over e-mail or telephone are the preferred means. However, some checks like address, company verification etc. are still done by physical visits with geo-tagging of photos.

The social media handle often serve as a tool to give out vital information about the employee. It is easy for the employer to map out the interests, activities, and affiliations of the applicant. Inappropriate contents such as racist and homophobic slurs may work against the applicant. The background checks can be done both pre and post-employment. Usually, the background verification process takes around 3-10 days, but it may take even longer if the company wishes to do an in-depth background check.

The Few Common Background Verifications

Public Record: To avoid hiring someone who might be a liability to the organization, records of the candidate are accessed from the court of law and criminal history through law enforcement agencies. This is to ensure that the candidate's values adhere to that of the organization.

Work History: The information regarding the employee's past work history can be got from the previous employer like his/her work ethics, job role, performance, duration of work and overall conduct.

Education Records: The company may reach out to the college or university where the candidate has graduated from to match the credentials on the job application and to ensure that the degree is authentic.

Address Verification: This is often done by sending representatives of the company involved in the background check to the physical location to find out whether the candidate truly belongs there. A fraudulent address indicates the candidate's willingness to hide his previous identity.

Who Conducts the Background Checks in India?

The background verification process in India is done either by the company itself or through third party agencies depending upon different norms and what kind of verification needs to be done. After the verification process is completed, a report is sent to the employer. If it is done by third party agencies, the report only states facts based on parameters. After the report is sent to the employer, if it is pre- employment verification, the company decides whether to hire a candidate and if it is post-employment verification; the company decides whether to continue with the employee. When the report is negative, the company may still choose to hire the employee only if the risk involved is minimal. Big companies hire third party agencies, whereas smaller companies have a team of HR to do the background check.

Background verification in India conducted by government firms and PSU's is an extensive process where first, it requires you to submit a residential proof of where you have lived for six months in the last 4 years. Submitting proofs of your current local and permanent address is required. Based on the information, records are examined after obtaining them from the district magistrates or the police commissioners of the area. Finally, after the police stations checks and confirms the validity of the information, background check is verified.

Advancement of Technology Has Helped in The Process of Background Verification in India?

The Government of India has aided the background verification process through digital outlets that can be accessed virtually. Aadhar verification has helped background verification companies in India to conduct background checks on the information available. The biometrics of the individuals and practically all the other personal data are stored there. Government has launched the NAD (National Academics Depository) to digitally store the educational records which can be easily accessed by the employers. One principal aim of this project is to eliminate fraudulent practices, such as forging certificates and mark sheets, through online verifications. NAD can be used as the single point verification center for all academic records. The NSR (national skills registry) launched by the government serves as the largest database for working professionals, which makes it easier for the employers to fact check the employees' information.

Are There Legal Procedures Requiring Acknowledgement of the Candidate?

In the US, Rules set up by the United Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) must be followed. These require that the employee must be notified in writing by the employer about the background check in a document separate from the employment application. Applicants must provide written consent for the background check. The business must state it clearly if pre-employment background checks are mandatory. Employees have the right to be informed about the background check, about their history, lifestyle, personal information, and reputation. Background check services should be FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) compliant when trying to inquire about the credit report. This requires written consent from the employee. In case the company rejects the applicant based on the credit report, they must provide the applicant with explicit reason and the contact details of the company that reported the credit score. This way, in case of any misinformation, the applicant gets the chance to correct it so that he or she does not get excluded incorrectly.

Only the companies with an ISO 27001 certificate can conduct pre-employment background checks in India. Personal information such as medical history, biometrics and finance cannot be investigated without the applicant's approval.

There is absence of specific laws, legal requirements, or standards for companies in India to conduct background checks on prospective employees except for a few as mentioned above. The legal requirement is so vague that employers sometimes choose to ignore it. Yet, employers must be vigilant and sensitive of the data being used for the background checks and protect it from unlawful incursion.

Weeding out fraudulent candidates requires a reliable method of background verification. India is in a recruitment overdrive, competing with foreign giants for the best Indian talent. The nation has realized the need for an efficient system for conducting various ranges of comprehensive background checks. This has paved the way for the emergence of scores of background verification companies in India that have developed rigorous screening policies for new hires. This will eventually lift the working conditions in India as workplaces will become safer, healthier, and occupied with the right candidates who know their job.


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