In India, the background screening process is relatively a new concept. Many MNCs in India have been following a regulated background verification process since many years to ensure they hire the best employees. While it is true that most Indian companies don’t follow global practices when it comes to background screening, yet many companies today have developed an in-house screening process by conducting background checks of potential employees. Similarly, companies have also started investing money to conduct background verification from third-party agencies. Most Indian companies know that the number of bogus institutes producing fake educational or employment credentials is increasing, which is certainly not good for the growth, recognition, and success of businesses.

There are many companies conducting background verification of candidates without obtaining their consent. According to many established screening firms including SecUR Credentials, this isn’t a good practice, as such measures flout data protection laws. Although it is commendable that more and more companies in India want to conduct background checks, most of them are still not aware of the best practices which involve seeking consent from candidates before verifying their personal information. In other words, they need to be sensitive to the privacy of candidates. It’s only when Indian companies start interpreting the significance of background screening, they will adapt a proper system complying with regulations which has provisions for background screening.

Background Verification Regulations:

Background verification in India is not regulated. There are no laws to govern it, while in the West, companies need to be compliant with regulations such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCA). Employers have to get written consent from employees to access their employee details and also notify them how their information will be used.

Around a decade ago, background verification in India as a practice became more prevalent when third-party background verification companies set up their foundations to follow the best screening practices.

Today, there are many leading IT companies that have adopted a two-tier system wherein reference checks are handled in-house as well as by third-party agencies. Similarly, the Reserve Bank of India has issued notices to banks, making the employee verification process a mandate for all personnels that are recruited from other banks. The idea is to ensure no person with a criminal background is employed by any banking company.

Background Verification for Each Level of Employment:

Many organisations have partnered with background screening companies majorly to spot discrepancies in education and work experience. As far as the background verification process in multinational companies is concerned, they import their policies and standards from their native countries due to which their background screening processes are nearly spotless. Such companies looking to hire a senior level executive also check the candidate’s reputation and check for any security law violations or involvement in unethical practices.

Additionally, e-commerce and manufacturing industries are keen to partner with background screening agencies to conduct a comprehensive background verification process to ensure they hire the best employees. They believe that the resumes of blue-collar and white-collar candidates must undergo a strict background verification process to create a safe work environment. However, when big companies promote people within the organisation, they make sure to do a thorough check on the person, especially on his or her educational background without their consent. Many clients ask screening companies to conduct such discreet checks as they don’t want to antagonise their higher level employees. It certainly is a wrongful act and employees can sue the company for intruding their private information without their consent. Unfortunately, they cannot do this because the Indian system does not have any regulations devised to enable employees to take such strict measures.

Accessing public information of candidates such as criminal and court records does not need consent as these records are public information. But sharing or accessing private information such as financial records, medical records, and biometric information needs consent from the individual as per the sensitive data rules under the data protection laws. Just because there is no clear regulation around background screening, companies have been able to get away without being penalised for disclosing private information of candidates. The penalties for such an offense range from a jail term of two to three years to a few lakh rupees in fines.

We at SecUR Credentials, believe that background verification in India is extremely crucial. Regulating the verification process enables companies and candidates to develop credibility. Furthermore, the task of conducting a background check continues to remain a challenge, however, initiatives by the Government and other regulatory bodies can definitely make the entire process simpler and practical.