Background check of job applicants and GDPR. Guidance for employers on how to legally verify candidates for work
A detailed examination of a candidate’s history at the stage of recruitment is a common practice in many European countries, especially in the IT and finance industries. In Poland, more and more employers also decide to check the information contained in the CV and cover letter, also with the help of companies specializing in background check.
Under Polish labour law, the verification of information provided by the candidate, as well as the possibility for the employer to request additional data, is subject to certain limitations by data protection laws in Poland.
Criminal record check in Poland
The employer cannot independently verify the candidate’s criminal record in the National Criminal Register or demand a certificate of no criminal record, unless such a right has been expressly granted in the law (this is the case e. g. with teachers, security guards or some financial sector employees).
This prohibition cannot be circumvented by obtaining the candidate’s explicit consent to the processing of such information or authorisation to receive a certificate from the NCR on his behalf. In such a situation, the employer will not be able to demonstrate a legal basis for the processing of such data.
Employment history (back ground screening) in Poland
The employer has the right to confirm the previous employment data provided by the candidate in the recruitment documents, asking the candidate to provide the relevant documents. However, he cannot, without the candidate’s knowledge and consent, contact his previous employer for this purpose.
However, even if the candidate gives the employer his or her voluntary consent to contact the former employer, the scope of the questions cannot go beyond the information provided by the candidate – the contact is only to confirm the information already possessed by the employer.
The employer, even on the basis of a consent, will not be entitled to obtain further information about the candidate, e. g. by investigating whether in the previous workplace the candidate often had conflicts with co-workers, in what atmosphere the employment relationship ended, etc. The employer will not be entitled to receive further information about the candidate, e. g. by investigating whether in the previous workplace the candidate often had conflicts with co-workers, in what atmosphere the employment relationship ended, etc.
According to the recommendation of the President of the Office for Personal Data Protection (PUODO), employers should not contact the school the candidate attended in order to confirm the authenticity of the certificates and diplomas presented by the candidate. The documents presented should be sufficient proof of educational background. In view of the above recommendations, many universities refuse to provide such information to employers.
Candidate verification in social media is more and more often one of the first stages of the recruitment process. While checking the candidate’s „professional”; profiles, e. g. in LinkedIn, will not constitute a breach of his privacy, browsing through private profiles goes beyond the acceptable standards, especially as it may lead to actions of a discriminatory nature.
The employer should inform candidates about the planned scope of verification of their social media activity before submitting their recruitment documents and obtain their consent for such activities.