Finland is one of the world's leaders in economic freedom and is consistently improving its digital economy. For these reasons, this small Nordic country is attractive to employers seeking out skilled remote workers.
However, despite the many benefits that hiring in Finland provides, global employers must also consider the significant risks associated with international hiring. One way to mitigate these risks when hiring employees who live in Finland or when relocating employees internationally is to conduct effective background checks.
Use caution when conducting background checks in Finland and other foreign countries because every country has unique laws regarding what information employers are entitled to obtain and how they can obtain it. Continue reading to learn about the types of background checks you can conduct in Finland and how to conduct them.
What you need to know when performing a background check in Finland
When hiring employees in Finland or other foreign countries, you need to educate yourself on the local regulations concerning background checks and comply with them. Because every country has unique labor laws, you cannot use the same method of running background checks internationally. Below is an overview of the specific types of background checks in Finland and their legality.
In Finland, you can obtain a candidate's employment history directly from them. However, with the individual's signed permission, you can also run an employment verification check to ensure the validity of the information they shared with you.
You can simply ask your prospective candidate to gather proof of their educational background. However, if you decide or are required to verify their educational background, you can also do so with their written permission.
This background check may provide relevant educational information, including the following:
- The candidate's degree
- The candidate's major
- Any disciplinary records from the candidate's time at the school
- Any awards or honors the candidate received while attending the school
In Finland, employers cannot seek out information about an employee's medical history. However, an employer can request that the employee attend a medical screening to determine their fitness to perform the job for which they're being hired. If an employer requests a pre-employment medical examination, they are required to pay for it.
However, this type of screening leaves the employer subject to potential anti-discrimination lawsuits, as employers are forbidden from discriminating against employees based on health, according to Finland's equality and non-discrimination regulations.
Criminal record check in Finland
A criminal record check may be relevant when hiring for certain positions in Finland and written consent from the candidate is required to obtain it from local authorities. However, employers should be cautious when conducting criminal record checks, as they may violate employee rights and leave the employer at risk of legal recourse.
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Requirements for background checks in Finland
Depending on the type of pre-employment screening you wish to conduct on a prospective employee, you will need to obtain various disclosure agreements, information, and documents.
While you should look up the specific requirements in Finland for the type of background check you plan to conduct there, you may be expected to provide the following in order to do so:
- An authorization form signed by the applicant
- Personal information about the applicant, including their full name, contact information (e.g., home address, phone number, etc.), and date of birth
- Information about the applicant's employment history, including the names of their previous employers, when they worked there, their roles there, and more
- Information about the applicant's educational history, including the name(s) of their alma mater(s), the dates they attended the school(s), their degree(s), and more
Steps in conducting background checks in Finland
Conducting a background check in Finland is more challenging than in other countries because employers must determine whether they are legally able to hire a third party to conduct the employment screening. They must also assess whether they're legally entitled to access the information they're seeking.
You may want to consider seeking legal counsel if you plan to conduct a background check in Finland, at which point you can follow these steps:
- Determine which background check you need. You will need different release forms and have to work through different agencies depending on which type of background check you need.
- Get written consent from your prospective employee. In Finland, you cannot obtain any third-party information without the employee's written consent.
- Run the background check. Request specific documents from your applicant (e.g., employment records, medical screening results, etc.) or move forward with a compliant third-party screening.
Benefits of background checks
Hiring internationally presents significant benefits to employers who want to diversify their workforce and hire the best talent. However, it might mean hiring employees who live far away and often have no connection to your business or to any past or present employees.
Because of this, it's prudent to perform a background search in Finland when considering candidates who live there. In addition, consider the following benefits of running background checks on international (and local) applicants:
- You may be made aware of a candidate’s history of sexual harassment, workplace misconduct, or discriminatory behavior that does not align with your company's values.
- When you perform a background check in Finland, you can ensure that the applicant you're considering meets your minimum requirements before you hire them. This can lead to improved employee retention and lower your company's turnover rates.
- Running criminal record checks in Finland, when relevant and legal, can help ensure that you don't hire an employee who has a criminal history that may prevent trust in your working relationship. For example, you wouldn't want to hire a finance director who has a history of embezzlement. However, you should always be cautious when running a criminal background check, as discrimination laws may protect applicants.
- The legal requirements to perform specific jobs — like engineers, doctors, and teachers — vary by country. Therefore, you must ensure an employee is legally entitled to perform the work you're hiring them to do. An educational background check or a work history check in Finland can help ensure your compliance with local hiring regulations.
- When you alert applicants of your intention to run a background check, you may discourage candidates who would have been willing to embellish or falsify their employment history and experience from applying.
Are employee background checks legal in Finland?
Regulations on performing employee background checks in Finland are extremely strict compared to some other countries. The Act on Background Checks outlines these regulations and dictates what employers are and are not allowed to ask of candidates in the pre-employment screening process.
Although certain aspects of background checks are legal in Finland, employers are required to obtain the relevant records directly from the prospective employee rather than using a third party to check. If an employer would like to use a third party to perform a background check, they must have written consent from the applicant.
Planning to hire in Finland? Here's how Skuad can help
When you're a global employer interested in hiring foreign candidates, you will be required to run background checks in the employee's home country to determine whether their employment history, financial history, criminal background, and other factors make them a good fit to work for you.
Conducting pre-employment screenings in Finland and other countries and performing them in full compliance with local employment laws can present potential challenges for global employers.
With Skuad as your Employer of Record in Finland, you can easily manage hiring, onboarding, payments and background checks with 100% compliance to local laws and regulations. Talk to our experts today!
Here are some frequently asked questions about conducting background checks in Finland.
What is checked during a background check?
You can request different information during a background check depending on what you're trying to learn about the candidate. Types of background checks include:
- Educational history
- Employment history
- Criminal record check
What is police clearance from Finland?
A Police Clearance Certificate from Finland is an official document that states an employee has never been convicted of a crime in the country.
How long does a criminal record last in Finland?
Criminal records last varying times in Finland, depending on the severity of the crime and the subsequent punishment. The minimum amount of time a criminal record lasts is five years.
What is a background check for immigration?
When a foreign national goes through the Finnish immigration system, they are required to provide a Police Clearance Certificate proving they don't have a history of criminal activity.
What causes a red flag on a background check?
Several red flags may show up when a background check is conducted and can be caused by:
- A criminal history
- Periods in which the individual was unemployed
- Information that opposes what the individual has reported themselves
- Failed drug tests