Importance of Background Screening in Pakistan
Khadija Moiz Ali
Executive Operations – INGENIOUSTRIBE Global Solutions
Many companies in Pakistan especially small and medium sized companies cannot afford in depth, structured, employee verification procedures, but they are unaware of the legal implications of vetting their prospective candidates through social media forums. This is a particularly risky area of law, especially where the privacy comes in.
In Pakistan, even though it is not a standard practice for employers to carry out background checks on applicants (a nicely written reference letter often suffices), but background checks are now picking up, especially in compliance with laws of workplace in Pakistan. Currently the background checks on employees typically involve education (to check the genuine nature of the university degrees) and past employment checks, criminal records, reference checks and health checks. Multinational Organizations in Pakistan are following this practice.
Making background checking a part of a group’s culture can not only enrich its effectiveness (e.g., through greater productivity and retention), but also its reputation. Background checking can depose an organization’s loss prevention efforts by helping provide a safer environment for staffs, volunteers, and others. The most common reason among employers for not conducting background checks is cost. However, the cost of background checks represents a fraction of the cost of: terminating an individual; re-recruiting, re-hiring, and re-training his or her replacement.
The cost of conducting background checks is a fraction of the amount lost to employee theft. While these costs and damages may be recovered through an organization’s insurance, the cost of a lost reputation is irreplaceable. A background check may expose deception. It can affirm an individual’s professional or personal integrity by confirming that an individual told the truth on his/her application regarding criminal, employment and education history.
In some groups and industries some form of background checking is often required, whether because it is mandated by law, or because an insurance company demands it. Under Employment screening we tend to completely assess potential individuals and screen them according to what they possess as their capabilities & verify claims that they have made whereas also rediscover their track of past work places, criminal records & educational history.
Another issue whether background checks can be legally carried out after the decision to an offer of employment has been made and our answer is Yes! And we recommend that where there is a reasonable suspicion of misrepresentation and/or involvement in crime/terrorism on the part of the candidate. However as far as existing employees are concerned it is best to do an informed and routine periodic check of existing employees. Specifying what events can trigger an immediate check will is more likely justifiable during employment. To check if employee is legally entitled to work in this jurisdiction, the only requirement is to check that the employee has a valid NIC and possesses the qualifications necessary for the job. If the employee is foreign national, it is best to check whether he or she is lawfully authorized to work.
Furthermore, even though there are no restrictions or limitations on how employers process the information collected from background checks, we do recommend that this information must be used strictly for the purposes for which it has been obtained, and should not be used to justify decisions based on bias and discrimination as per the constitution of Pakistan. Even though the potential sanctions against employers if background checks are carried out unlawfully are not written clearly, any procedural mishandling or breach of privacy can give rise to a constitutional petition.