Employers have long recognized that conducting due diligence on new hires is a mission- critical task. Firms cannot afford to be sidetracked by employee problems such as workplace violence, theft, false resumes, embezzlement, harassment or trumped-up injury claims. Employers can be the subject of lawsuits for negligent hiring if they hire someone that they should have known, through the exercise of due diligence, was dangerous, unfit or unqualified.
However, with the mobility of workers across international borders, it is no longer adequate to conduct these checks just in the United States. A 2000 government study shows that 11.5% of the population consists of immigrants. In addition, an increasing number of workers have spent part of their professional career abroad. The number of countries from which employers seek additional information about applicants is expansive, and includes India, China, the Philippines, France, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Japan and Canada, among others.
Because of the perceived difficulty in performing international employment screening, some employers have not attempted to verify international credentials or to perform foreign criminal checks. However, the mere fact that information may be more difficult to obtain from outside of the U.S. does not relieve an employer of their due diligence obligation.
Nor can employers simply assume that the U.S. government has conducted background checks if the worker was issued a visa. After the events of 9/11, the U.S. has increased checks on foreign visitors and on workers on government “watch lists.” However, the government checks are generally not aimed at verifying a credential or checking for criminal records for employment purposes.
Verification of an educational degree earned abroad is critical to verify credentials and to avoid fraud. An employer needs to determine if an applicant in fact attended the school claimed and received the degree claimed. Statistics show that education fraud can run as high as 20%. The employer also needs to determine if the school is accredited and authentic. The world is awash with phony schools and worthless diplomas. If the employer is not familiar with a school, the employer should conduct its own research. A legitimate school will often have an e-mail address or phone number so that they can be contacted to verify a degree.
Foreign employment can also be verified by contacting the employer even though they are in a foreign country. Often such calls will be made in the middle of the night due to time differences. The critical step is to obtain as much information about the past employer as possible from the applicant. If the employer does not speak English, an interpreter may be needed.
In order to assist employers in the requirements worldwide, ESR has published a helpful chart showing what is required in each country around the world. See:Â
In order to comply with international data and privacy protection laws, ESR does not send personal information offshore.Â The verifications are conducted from the U.S.Â Â The only exceptions are certain countries referred to as â€œRed Zones,â€ where due to unique circumstances, a local researcher may be needed.Â Â
In some countries, verifications can be especially difficult due to problems in that country with communications or other barriers. In the event a country does not utilize the English alphabet or an employer or school cannot communicate in English, it may be necessary to request applicant information in the language of that country.Â A U.S. firm that performs international screening should also be Safe Harbor Certified.