In the rapidly changing world of remote work, understanding employee background checks, especially in different jurisdictions, is critical for companies looking to expand their teams. In this article, we'll dive deep into the specifics of conducting a Canadian employee background checks, considering its legal frameworks, privacy laws, provincial human rights laws, and unique factors that you must pay attention to.
What is an Employee Background Check?
An employee background check is a process where an employer verifies the employment history, educational background, criminal record, credit history, and other related information provided by a job applicant during the hiring process. This could include using a local court search or even a social media background check. Background checks are an important part of the hiring process as they help employers mitigate risks, ensure a safe work environment, and verify the credentials of their potential hires.
They're particularly critical when hiring internationally or when onboarding remote employees.
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Common Types of Background Checks in Canada
In Canada, background checks form an integral part of the hiring process, allowing employers to verify crucial aspects of a prospective employee's background. Here's an in-depth look at some of the commonly conducted checks:
Criminal Record Checks
One of the most commonly performed background checks is the criminal record check. This process reveals whether an individual has a criminal record or criminal convictions. It's particularly essential for positions that involve access to sensitive data, financial responsibility, or interactions with vulnerable populations such as children or the elderly. Before running a criminal background check, employers must obtain the candidate's personal information and consent as per the personal information protection agreements in place. This respect for protecting personal data is an essential part of ethical hiring practices.
Credit checks are another form of background check often conducted in Canada, especially for roles involving significant financial responsibilities. These checks provide insights into an individual's financial behavior and creditworthiness, providing a gauge of their financial responsibility or any bad payment history. Employers can consider these checks when hiring for roles in financial planning, accounting, or any other positions that involve handling company finances. While conducting a credit check, it's important to note that the process should not infringe upon the employee's privacy rights, as detailed in your agreement with the employee, adhering to Canadian privacy laws.
Employment History Verification
Employment verification checks are crucial for verifying the work history of a prospective employee. During this check, past employers are contacted to validate the candidate's employment dates, positions held, job responsibilities, and reasons for leaving. This process often involves speaking with a company's payroll department or checking professional references. It helps ensure that the candidate has the experience they claim, thereby helping reduce the risk of a bad hire. It's particularly useful when dealing with international hires, as it allows for verification across different jurisdictions and provincial borders.
Social Media Background Checks
In today's digital age, social media checks are increasingly being incorporated as a part of background checks. These checks involve reviewing a candidate's public social media profiles - such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram - for insights into their online behavior and persona.
This type of check can provide a glimpse into a candidate's character, personal interests, and professional network. It can also potentially flag any public behavior or post content that might be considered inappropriate or damaging. This could include hate speech, inappropriate images, or any content that could negatively affect the company's reputation if they were to be hired.
It's important to note that social media checks should be conducted ethically and respect privacy laws. Canadian employers should only review publically available information and should never pressure candidates to provide access to their private accounts or content. As with all other types of background checks and pre-employment screening, the process should be transparent, and the candidate's consent should be obtained.
References provided by the candidate offer valuable insights into their work ethic, skills, strengths, and weaknesses. By contacting professional references, employers can gather more information about the candidate's past performance and potential fit within the company. It's important to note that these checks should be conducted respectfully, keeping in mind the candidate's rights and the norms of professional communication.
Lastly, education verification checks are conducted to verify the academic qualifications of a candidate. These checks involve contacting educational institutions to verify degrees, diplomas, certificates, or other qualifications claimed by the candidate. It ensures that the candidate possesses the necessary education for the job position and can be particularly crucial when hiring for positions that require specific educational qualifications or certifications. This forms a part of the overall employment background check.
Understanding these background checks and how to conduct them per Canadian laws and regulations, specifically the Electronic Documents Act, is crucial when hiring new employees. It is especially significant when considering the costs involved in the hiring process, as a thorough background check can help mitigate risks and avoid potential costs down the line. Remember, ensuring an ethical and respectful process forms an essential part of your global hiring strategy.
What language do you use for background checks in Canada?
When discussing background checks in Canada, it's important to use respectful and non-discriminatory language. Canada has two official languages, English and French, and all communications should be made available in both languages if required. Respectful language means avoiding labels or terms that could stigmatize individuals based on their background check results. Remember, the objective is not to make a judgment but to verify the information. This is especially important for vulnerable sector checks and criminal background checks.
Information Essential for a Background Check in Canada
When conducting a background check in Canada, employers require certain crucial information to ensure the process is both thorough and compliant with Canadian law. Here's a breakdown of the essential information needed:
- Full Name: The full legal name of the candidate is required to accurately conduct background checks. This aids in differentiating the candidate from others who may have a similar name.
- Date of Birth: The candidate's date of birth is another crucial detail that helps in the accurate identification of the individual.
- Address History: While not always mandatory, having a candidate's address history can be helpful, especially when conducting a criminal background check.
- Social Insurance Number (SIN): A Social Insurance Number can sometimes be used in a background check, although it's not typically mandatory and its use is strictly regulated to protect against identity theft.
- Consent: Perhaps most importantly, employers must obtain the candidate's consent before conducting a background check. Consent must be explicit, written, and informed, meaning the candidate must know the type of check being conducted, who will perform it, and how the information will be used. The agreement between an employer and an employee should mention the procedures and purposes of these checks.
Other pieces of information, like employment history and references, are also beneficial when conducting a comprehensive background check. This allows the employer to validate the candidate's skills, experience, and overall professional conduct in their previous workplaces.
However, collecting and using personal information for background checks comes with its responsibilities. Employers must be careful to respect privacy rights and prevent discriminatory practices. This is why it's crucial to understand the legal and tax risks associated with hiring remote employees and to be mindful of ethical hiring practices.
How do human rights laws affect background checks in Canada?
When it comes to background checks in Canada, understanding the impact of human rights laws is crucial. These laws, enshrined in the Canadian Human Rights Act, aim to ensure fair treatment for everyone, safeguarding individuals against discrimination based on a range of characteristics. These characteristics include race, nationality, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability, and a conviction for which a pardon has been granted or a record suspended.
Human rights laws directly impact how background checks can be conducted and utilized in the hiring process. The fundamental principle is that the information obtained through a background check should not be used to unlawfully discriminate against a job applicant or employee. For example, a criminal record check might reveal a conviction for which a person has received a pardon. In this case, according to Canadian law, the conviction should not be used as a ground for discrimination.
Equally, care should be taken when dealing with sensitive information that may be revealed during background checks, such as an individual's marital status, family status or age. Unlawful discrimination on these grounds is prohibited, and employers must be mindful to separate this personal information from their hiring decisions.
When hiring internationally or remotely, the legal landscape can become even more complex. Employers must navigate not only Canadian laws but also the legal frameworks in the candidate's country of residence. As a part of effective global hiring and onboarding strategies, these considerations must be woven into the process from the start, ensuring both the employer's and the candidate's rights are protected.
Why are Background Checks Done?
Background checks are carried out for several reasons. They help maintain a safe work environment, ensure the reliability and honesty of employees, protect the company's reputation, and mitigate potential legal and financial risks. When hiring new employees, understanding the costs involved also involves accounting for the due diligence of background checks.
Are Background Checks Legal in Canada?
Yes, background checks are legal in Canada. However, they are subject to certain rules and regulations to protect individual privacy and prevent discrimination. Employers must obtain written consent from the individual before conducting a background check. Furthermore, the information obtained during a check must be relevant to the job, and any adverse action (like not hiring an applicant) based on the check's result must comply with Canadian human rights laws.
Planning to hire in Canada? Here's how Skuad can help
Background checks in Canada are streamlined, straightforward, and efficient with Skuad as your Employer of Record Platform. When it comes to employment screening, Canada necessitates several criminal history checks, rigorously safeguards private information, and prohibits discrimination in any form. While this may seem manageable, the intricacies of these compliance issues magnify when hiring internationally, creating a challenging situation for an already occupied in-house team.
With Skuad as your EOR Partner, you can effortlessly hire, onboard, pay, and manage your geographically dispersed team, while also receiving assistance for background checks and screening in Canada when contemplating hiring within the country.
Reach out to discover how Skuad can support you in hiring remote teams in Canada.
How far do background checks go in Canada?
Background checks in Canada typically go back to the individual's 18th birthday or the last 7 to 10 years, depending on the type of check. Certain positions, like those involving vulnerable populations, may necessitate a more thorough check, which can include information dating back further.
What impact do Canadian privacy laws have on conducting background checks?
Canadian privacy laws strongly influence how background checks are conducted. According to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), employers must obtain written consent before conducting a background check. They are also obligated to use this information solely for the purpose agreed upon and must ensure its accuracy, confidentiality, and security. Furthermore, certain provinces have additional privacy regulations that further impact these procedures.