Challenges of Employment Screening in Europe: Evaluating Your Program
With its diverse legislation, linguistic landscape and recent data privacy reforms like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Europe presents a multitude of challenges and potential risks in the hiring process. How can HR professionals overcome these challenges and mitigate risks? The answer lies in evaluating your programme’s ability to combat various European challenges through language capabilities, providing a positive candidate experience, legislative expertise and understanding regional nuances.
DIVERSE LINGUISTIC LANDSCAPE
The European Union (EU) alone has 24 official languages, excluding numerous regional and minority languages, creating a complex and often difficult linguistic landscape for those conducting checks and interacting with candidates. As candidates attain more international experience and companies increasingly draw from a wider international workforce, the ability to conduct checks globally and accommodate for the vast number of European languages becomes crucial.
It is therefore important that the background screener is fluent in the local language of checks, since background checks require a comprehensive approach and non-fluent individuals are more likely to miss pertinent details. Fluent individuals who can access local databases and websites will best understand your candidates, while those who use online translation tools will not be exposed to the entire spectrum of risk.
Migration is commonplace in the European Union, with people moving between the EU countries as well as moving in and out of the region. A total of 4.7 million people immigrated to an EU state in 2015, half of which were immigrants were arriving from non-EU countries.
The EU’s “free movement of workers” allows for a high degree of mobility between member states and contributes greatly to intra-European migration. With this “freedom of movement” principle, EU citizens can search for jobs, work without a work permit and reside in their country of employment even after their employment has finished. In January 2017 alone, there were an estimated 20.4 million people who were living in a different EU state than one where they held residency.
Although this migration occurs between the EU member states, it is still important to screen job seekers and migrants as they pass from one state to another, especially with many citizens who exercise their right to look for jobs. Given the linguistic diversity of migrants from other EU countries and abroad, a screening program’s language capabilities and ability to conduct local language checks becomes increasingly crucial.
EFFICIENCY AND POSITIVE CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE
When under pressure to hire the best talent, screening efficiency is key. Robust programmes can communicate with candidates in their native tongue to provide a smooth candidate experience. Flexible technologies can often provide a candidate interface with instructions supporting multiple languages, improving overall programme efficiency by ensuring candidates understand the hiring process, eliminating confusion and shortening onboarding times for successful candidates.
How can the language capabilities of your programme support your hiring needs? Does your programme provide an easy experience for candidates to provide their information? Allowing candidates to submit personal information in their local language allows them to better answer questions and thus greatly impacts the candidate selection process itself. This is especially relevant in Europe given the continent’s multitude of languages.
EUROPEAN DATA PRIVACY AND SECURITY
While many European countries do not have screening-specific legislation, many do have region-specific labour or data privacy laws that impact what methods can be used and which people can collect, maintain and store candidate information. Depending on the region, an employer or third party vendor may access candidate information through public records, or the candidate may obtain information directly from relevant sources and then submit their information to an employer or vendor. In many countries, attaining records with irrelevant information is considered an overreach of information privacy and may be penalized, so employers and vendors must request data with caution.
With the EU-wide GDPR, for instance, companies will want their European candidate information stored on European servers, while country-wide data privacy laws like Germany’s Federal Data Protection Act mandate how certain types of information are collected. How do your programme’s data privacy measures comply with the storage and maintenance required by GDPR? What measures are in place to prevent breaches of personal information? How are your security measures enforced for outsourced checks?
Compliant programmes should limit information on a need-to-know basis to their researchers and ensure sensitive information is sent through secure servers.
OBTAINING PUBLIC DATA
Even if information is available to the public, it may not be legally obtainable for background checks. This can apply to public records as well as candidate information available on the internet, the latter of which is especially relevant because evaluating a candidate’s online persona is now a common, easy and seemingly harmless practice.
For example, neither France nor Germany have legislation specific to social media checks. Instead, region-specific laws dictate the type of profiles that can be checked, the amount of information that can be used and required data collection processes. French candidates, who are protected by the Labour Code, may have their internet information used for candidate assessments as long as they are given prior notice. By contrast, Germany’s Federal Data Protection Act implies that personal data collection is usually acceptable if the data is publicly accessible, but further differentiates between what types of data can be collected. Information hosted on professional networks like XING or LinkedIn may be stored and collected, while information on social networking sites like Facebook cannot be used.
Vendors with robust employment screening programmes have specific research workflows compliant with each region and train the researchers conducting the checks, so that individuals have an in-depth background regarding what can and cannot be done in each region.
How do the researchers stay abreast of recent legislation changes? How are they trained on what information is collected and how it can be collected? These are all questions you should ask of your prospective background screening vendor.
Find out more about what key factors you should consider when choosing an employment screening vendor in a global market.