New Zealand is committed to improving the digital skills of its citizens and continuing to improve its digital economy and promoting a thriving digital sector. This has made it a viable option for global employers looking to expand their workforce.
However, when it comes to hiring in new countries, remaining compliant is a critical challenge that you will need to take very seriously. Conducting background checks on prospective employees is common practice, but the laws regarding pre-employment screenings vary by country.
In this article, you'll learn what background checks in New Zealand are legal and how to conduct a pre-employment screening in the country.
What is an employee background check?
There are numerous challenges that global employers face when hiring and relocating remote workers to foreign countries, one of which is navigating how to establish an employment relationship that may span continents and time zones and is primarily supported through technology.
If you plan to hire an employee in New Zealand, you will need to ensure they're legally entitled to work in the country and find a way to verify that the information they provided you with on their resume and job application is accurate.
Background checks provide information on the employee's history and can be used to ensure an employee is legally entitled to work in New Zealand, that they're qualified to perform the job you're hiring them to do, and that they have the educational background and work entitlements (e.g., certifications, licenses, etc.) they need to work for you.
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What are the benefits of background checks in New Zealand?
Running a background screening in New Zealand for any prospective candidates can be highly beneficial to your business. Background checks represent an affordable way to ensure that workers are telling the truth about their qualifications.
Consider some of the primary benefits of background checks listed below:
- They reduce employee turnover - When you run a background check, you can ensure an applicant has the necessary employment and educational history to perform the job they're being hired for. This ensures you hire the most qualified candidate.
- Background checks save you money - Lower turnover means less money spent on onboarding and training new employees.
- It promotes a safe work environment - By running a New Zealand criminal record check, you can assess whether a candidate has a concerning criminal history. In addition, you can be alerted to any previous employee misconduct or instances of discrimination or sexual harassment.
- They ensure compliance - International employers have to be particularly mindful of compliance, and background checks ensure the employment relationship you're considering entering is compliant.
What are the types of background checks in New Zealand?
Below is a list of the types of pre-employment screenings you can run on New Zealand applicants.
Criminal record check in New Zealand
In New Zealand, criminal record checks cannot be given to an employer through a screening process without the applicant's permission. Instead, you can request that the candidate apply for their criminal record check from the New Zealand Department of Justice and send you a copy.
Alternatively, you can run a criminal record check on a candidate using a third party so long as you have written consent from the individual.
Employment history check
Employers use a work history check in New Zealand to verify that employees have the work experience they've claimed to have. An employment history check typically involves reaching out to the candidate's previous employer or employers and verifying the length of time they worked for them and their role and title.
Pre-employment medical screenings (including drug testing) in New Zealand are permissible so long as they are relevant to the work the employee is being hired to perform.
Employers will be required to get written consent from employees before moving forward with any pre-employment medical screening.
Credit history check
In New Zealand, an employer is only entitled to run a credit history check on a prospective employee if it is relevant to the work they are being hired to perform, and they may be able to pose a financial risk to the employer if hired (e.g., they will be managing company funds, in charge of payroll, etc.)
You will need a signed release form to run a credit history check on a candidate.
An education history check verifies that an employee has the educational credentials they claim to possess. If an applicant has attended school in New Zealand, they will likely have a record of their academic history with the New Zealand Record of Achievement (NZRoA).
Social media and Working With Children Check
A social media check involves scanning the candidate's social media presence.
A Working With Children Check, also called a Children’s Worker Safety Check, is a mandatory assessment that ensures candidates who work directly with children do not pose a known risk to them.
Requirements for background check in New Zealand
The requirements to be able to run a background check in New Zealand may vary based on the type of check you're running (e.g., criminal record check, employment history check, etc.). However, you may be expected to provide some or all of the following to run a credit check in New Zealand successfully:
- Personal information about the candidate, such as their full name, date of birth, and home address.
- A copy of the front and back of the candidate's New Zealand license or another form of identification (e.g., a valid passport)
- Information about the candidate's previous employer, such as their organization name, when the candidate worked there, what their job title was, etc.
- Information about the candidate's alma mater(s), such as their name, physical address, when the candidate went to school there, etc.
- A signed release form from the candidate consenting to their personal information being shared
Steps in conducting a background check in New Zealand
The steps in conducting a background check in New Zealand will vary based on the type of test you're running and the third-party company you're using to conduct your pre-employment screening. However, it will likely include the following steps:
- Determine what information you need - This will help you decide which background check(s) to run (e.g., criminal record check, employment history, etc.)
- Have the candidate sign a release form - You will need written consent from the applicant to access their personal information. During this phase, you should gather any other documents you might need.
- Run the background check - Once you've decided on the type of screening you plan to run and have gathered the necessary information, you can process the background check.
Are employee background checks legal in New Zealand?
You can legally conduct a background check on a prospective employee in New Zealand. However, you will need to ensure you comply with the local regulations when doing so.
Planning to hire in New Zealand? Here's how Skuad can help
If you're a global employer planning to hire employees in New Zealand and other foreign countries, you should be prepared to use international background screenings to check prospective employees' financial, criminal, educational, and employment histories.
Processing background checks in New Zealand when your company is based abroad can lead to unique complications, as you will be expected to comply with the regulations that protect the privacy of prospective New Zealand employees.
With Skuad as your Employer of Record partner, you can easily manage all aspects of the hiring and employment processes, including navigating the process of running background checks in New Zealand.
How do you do a background check in New Zealand?
To do a background check in New Zealand, it's best to hire a third-party screening company. They will help ensure you gather the necessary documents and ensure the screening process complies with New Zealand law.
How long do background checks take in NZ?
How long a background check in New Zealand takes depends on the type of check that is run. However, it can take several weeks to complete a background check.
For example, a New Zealand criminal record check typically takes 15 days to complete.
How much does a background check cost in NZ?
The cost of a background check in New Zealand will vary depending on the type of check run and the company through which you process the background check. You can expect the cost of a background check to go up the more categories you include in the screening (e.g., employment verification, criminal record check, etc.)
How long does a criminal record last in NZ?
New Zealand has a Clean Slate Scheme, which states that less severe criminal offenses be removed from an individual's criminal record after seven years. However, more serious offenses may remain on a person's criminal record for longer.
Why do international background checks take so long?
International background checks can take a long time to process. This is mainly because all parties have to remain compliant when sharing protected information, and every country has unique compliance laws, which means navigating compliance across two or more countries adds additional time.