Belgium, with its strong tech industry and a wealth of tech talent, is an ideal location for building distributed teams. Conducting employee background checks when hiring these professionals is a crucial step, offering valuable insights that can help you make informed decisions and safeguard your company. Let's explore what employment background verification entails and delve into the specifics of conducting these checks in Belgium.
What is Employment Background Verification?
Employment background verification is a process that involves checking a prospective employee's professional and personal history. This is typically done to verify the details provided by the candidate during the hiring process, ensuring they have the skills, qualifications, and experience they claim to have.
Here are the key components of a background check:
- Verifying educational qualifications: Ensuring the candidate has the stated degrees or certifications for the job position.
- Employment history: Checking the authenticity of the candidate's previous employment contracts to understand the nature of their previous job positions.
- Criminal history: Looking for any past criminal records.
- Reference checks: Contacting the candidate's provided references to gain further insights into their character and work ethic.
Belgian employment law often requires extensive background checks, especially for positions in a private limited liability company or a public limited liability company. Therefore, being aware of these legal requirements is crucial.
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Important Information for a Background Check in Belgium
When conducting background checks in Belgium, it's important to be aware of the country's strong privacy laws and the ethical guidelines that should be adhered to. In this context, background screening is vital before offering an employment contract to a potential employee. With the rise in remote work, businesses are increasingly looking towards countries like Belgium to build diverse and distributed teams. Here are some essential factors to keep in mind:
Belgium is part of the European Union, and as such, it falls under the jurisdiction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR is one of the most stringent privacy laws in the world. It mandates that you must inform candidates about the nature and purpose of the background screening you're conducting and obtain their explicit consent. It's also essential to keep the information obtained confidential and to use it only for the intended purpose. Adherence to these regulations is especially critical in Belgium's capital region.
Respecting the Candidate
Belgium prides itself on maintaining a high level of respect for individual rights. You should ensure that all checks are done ethically, with respect for the individual's privacy. This means not delving into areas of a candidate's life that do not directly impact their job performance or pose a risk to the business or other employees.
Criminal history checks
Criminal record checks are a sensitive topic in Belgium. While these checks can be crucial for certain roles where a clean criminal record is a legal requirement, they are generally restricted to protect individual privacy. When considering such checks, it's crucial to understand the nature of the role and whether it is legally permitted. Employee categories, including sales representatives and domestic employees, may have different requirements under Belgian employment law.
International background checks
Given the increasingly global nature of business, understanding how to run an international background check is increasingly essential. This can be particularly important when you hire employees remotely, a strategy that offers potential cost benefits and allows businesses to tap into global talent pools. It's also important to maintain constant communication with your parent company or company's main office to ensure everything is in line with company standards and policies.
Work Permit Verification
For non-EU citizens, you need to verify the candidate's eligibility to work in Belgium. This involves checking their work permits and visas, which requires a thorough understanding of Belgium's immigration laws and the requirements for various types of work permits. During this period, a replacement contract may be needed if the employee filling the position is unavailable.
As you navigate the complexities of conducting background checks in Belgium, it's crucial to stay abreast of the legal and tax implications of hiring remote employees. These include the employee's yearly salary, personal income taxes, and industrial injuries insurance. Liaising with the tax collector's office and the national social security office is essential to ensure your organization remains compliant while taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by this talented and diverse workforce.
Why Background Checks in Belgium is important
Conducting background checks in Belgium offers a host of benefits for employers, particularly those in the private sector who are aiming to hire employees remotely or build distributed teams.
Conducting comprehensive background checks is a proactive way of mitigating the potential risks related to negligent hiring. This can prevent issues such as workplace fraud, misconduct, or incompetence. By confirming a candidate's professional history and qualifications, companies can reduce the risk of misclassification of independent contractors, ensuring all hires are correctly classified and well-suited to their roles.
Background checks in Belgium ensure the quality of hires by verifying their skills, experience, and qualifications. This can boost the overall productivity and performance of your teams. If you're looking to attract top-notch candidates from different countries, including Belgium, creating a rigorous and reliable hiring process can help you get a diverse applicant pool.
In some cases, background checks are a legal requirement. For example, roles involving work with children or vulnerable adults often require a clean criminal record. Background checks ensure compliance with these requirements, thus avoiding potential legal issues and penalties down the line.
Safety and Security
Background checks contribute to a safer work environment by identifying individuals with past criminal records, which might be relevant depending on the nature of the job. For leaders of distributed teams, this assurance of safety can contribute to a more secure, trusting team environment.
By helping you make more informed hiring decisions, background checks can save you significant resources in the long run. Hiring a new employee involves substantial investment, and a bad hire can result in wasted training efforts, lower team morale, and ultimately the cost of hiring another replacement. Background checks can help avoid such situations, leading to a more cost-effective hiring process.
Types of Background Checks in Belgium
In Belgium, the following types of background checks are commonly conducted when hiring candidates, particularly in the tech industry:
Educational and Professional Verification
This is a vital type of background check conducted to validate the educational qualifications and professional experience stated by a candidate. This process involves verifying the degrees or certifications with the issuing institutions and checking employment history with previous employers. It's important to ensure that the candidate holds the relevant skills and knowledge required for the tech role.
An essential step in any hiring process, an identity check involves confirming the candidate's identity. Employers typically verify identification documents such as passports or national ID cards to ensure that the candidate is who they claim to be. With the rise of remote work and international hiring, identity checks have become increasingly important in mitigating fraud and misrepresentation.
Criminal History Check
While criminal record checks aren't permitted for every role in Belgium, they can be conducted for specific positions where a clean record is a legal requirement. This might apply to roles involving work with sensitive information or vulnerable populations. It's crucial to be aware of the legal stipulations around these checks to avoid any infringement of privacy laws.
While less common and subject to strict regulations, credit checks might be relevant for positions that entail financial responsibility. This type of check provides insights into an individual's financial stability and history, which can be particularly relevant in roles involving money management.
Reference checks involve contacting individuals—usually former employers or colleagues—who can vouch for the candidate's skills, work ethic, and character. These checks offer valuable insights into the candidate's behavior and suitability for the role and the organization's culture.
Processes of conducting background checks in Belgium
The process of conducting background checks in Belgium is a multi-step procedure that requires careful attention to detail and adherence to legal guidelines, particularly the GDPR and the local data protection laws. Here is a more detailed breakdown of the steps involved:
Obtain Informed Consent
The first and foremost step is to inform the candidate about the background check and its scope. The candidate should be made aware of what kind of information will be checked, how it will be used, and who will have access to it. The candidate's explicit consent is then obtained, typically in writing, following the guidelines set out by GDPR.
Verify Candidate's Identity
After obtaining consent, the next step is to confirm the candidate's identity. This typically involves the verification of identification documents such as passports or identity cards. In some cases, additional documents may be required, such as proof of residence.
Educational and Professional Verification
Once identity is confirmed, the next step is to verify the candidate's educational qualifications and professional experience. This can involve contacting educational institutions to confirm degrees or certifications and reaching out to previous employers to verify roles and responsibilities.
Criminal History Check
Criminal record checks are not standard for all positions in Belgium but can be conducted for certain roles where a clean record is a legal requirement. Such roles might include working with children or vulnerable individuals. In such cases, the employer can request a certificate of good conduct (also known as 'Model 2' or 'Model 1' in Belgium, depending on the role).
Finally, contacting the candidate's provided references can provide valuable insights into the candidate's character, work ethic, and professional capabilities. This step, however, also requires the candidate's consent.
All the information gathered during the process should be documented. It is crucial to store these documents securely and limit access to this information to comply with GDPR requirements. The documents should only be kept as long as necessary for the purposes they were collected.
Review and Decision-Making
The final step is to review all the gathered information and use it to make an informed hiring decision. It's important to assess all data fairly and objectively, keeping in mind the potential for discrimination or bias.
Adopting these processes as part of your global hiring and onboarding strategies can facilitate smooth hiring, especially when building remote teams or hiring tech talent in Belgium.
Are Background Checks Legal in Belgium?
Yes, background checks are legal in Belgium. However, they must be conducted following GDPR and the country's data protection laws. Employers must provide a valid reason for conducting these checks, inform the candidates about them, and obtain their explicit consent.
When hiring tech talents in Belgium and managing remote or distributed teams, understanding the legalities and processes of conducting background checks is crucial. It not only ensures your hiring decisions are sound but also mitigates legal and tax risks of remote employees.
Planning to hire in Belgium? Here's how Skuad can help
Conducting comprehensive background checks is a crucial part of hiring in Belgium, particularly for remote and distributed tech teams. These checks ensure the quality of hires, mitigate risks and ensure regulatory compliance.
However, it's essential to conduct these checks in compliance with Belgium's privacy and employment laws. As your Employer of Record partner, Skuad can simplify these processes. We support you in hiring, onboarding, paying, and managing your distributed team, including offering support for background checks and screening in Belgium.
Hire a remote team in Belgium with Skuad.
How do I get a criminal record check in Belgium?
To obtain a criminal record background check in Belgium, you'll need to apply for an 'Extract from the Criminal Record.' This can be done online via the Belgian government's official website, at your local municipal administration office (commune/gemeente) if you're a resident, or at the Federal Public Service (FPS) Justice if you're a non-resident.
How long does an international background check take?
The duration for an international background check in Belgium can vary significantly depending on the countries involved, the type of check, and the specific details required. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. However, for certain countries or in complex cases, it could take up to a few months. Always plan and allow ample time for this process.