Pre-Employment Background Checks: A Guide for Canadian Employers

  • Recruitment/HR
Kiljon Shukullari

Kiljon Shukullari, HR Advisory Manager

(Last updated )

Pre-employment background checks are an important tool for Canadian employers to ensure that they are hiring the right candidate for a job. These checks can include criminal record checks, employment and education verification, reference checks, and more. However, there are legal and ethical considerations that employers must keep in mind when conducting background checks. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to pre-employment background checks in Canada.

What are pre-employment checks?

Pre-employment background checks, also known as background checks, are investigations into an individual’s past to verify their identity and qualifications for employment. These checks are commonly used to confirm information provided on a candidate’s resume or application, such as employment history and education. Other reasons to conduct pre-employment checks include verifying skills, assessing character, and identifying potential risks to the business.

Why are pre-employment background checks important?

Pre-employment background checks are essential to protect your business and its reputation. Candidates may provide inaccurate or false information on their resumes or applications, leading to potential risks for your company. Failing to verify a candidate’s qualifications can result in hiring an individual who is not a good fit for the job, leading to negative impacts on workplace culture, teamwork, and quality of work. Conducting pre-employment background checks can help you avoid costly mistakes and protect your business.

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When are pre-employment checks conducted?

Pre-employment checks are typically conducted before hiring a candidate, though not all businesses perform them. It is recommended that all businesses incorporate pre-employment checks for their own protection. They are particularly important for higher-level positions and industries that rely heavily on trust, such as financial institutions, insurance companies, daycares, healthcare services, and courthouses. Additionally, pre-employment screenings are often required for volunteer positions and jobs that involve working with vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly, and the disabled.

Are pre-employment checks legal?

Pre-employment background checks are legal in Canada, but employers must obtain written consent from prospective employees before conducting them. Employers must also inform the prospective employee of the purpose of the check, explain why the information is being collected, and keep the information confidential. Canada has laws that protect individuals’ privacy, and employers must comply with federal or provincial regulations depending on their sector.

What are the different types of pre-employment background checks?

Criminal record checks

Criminal record checks are one of the most common types of pre-employment checks. They involve searching criminal databases for any prior convictions, charges, or warrants. Employers must comply with applicable privacy laws and obtain the candidate’s consent before conducting a criminal record check.

Employment verification

Employment verification involves contacting a candidate’s previous employers to verify their employment history, job title, and responsibilities. This helps ensure that the candidate has the necessary experience and qualifications for the job.

Education verification

Education verification involves confirming a candidate’s educational qualifications by contacting the educational institution they attended or requesting transcripts. This helps ensure that the candidate has the necessary education and training for the job.

Reference checks

Reference checks involve contacting a candidate’s personal or professional references to gather information about their character, work ethic, and performance. This helps assess the candidate’s suitability for the job and identify any potential red flags.

Credit checks

Credit checks reveal a candidate’s credit history and financial status. They are typically used for positions that involve financial responsibilities, such as accounting or banking. Employers might learn from this about a candidate’s ability to manage financial affairs or whether there is risk for them to engage in fraud or theft. Employers must comply with applicable privacy laws and obtain the candidate’s consent before conducting a credit check.

How long do background checks take for pre-employment?

The length of time to conduct a pre-employment check can vary. Generally, pre-employment checks take around three to four days, but criminal history checks may take longer and vary across jurisdictions.

How far back do pre-employment background checks go?

Employers can conduct pre-employment background checks as far back as they want, but they must be relevant to the position. For example, it may not be valid to do a background check into a prospective employee’s driving records if the job has nothing to do with driving, or investigating their criminal record if it is not relevant to the job.

Do you need help conducting pre-employment checks?

Pre-employment background checks are legal in Canada, but they must be conducted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, including obtaining written consent from the prospective employee and respecting their privacy rights.

Employers should be mindful of the relevance of the background checks to the position and handle any adverse findings with care and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

If you need assistance with background checks for your business, Peninsula’s team of experts allow you to receive quality advice on any employment issues you may have. To learn more about how our services can benefit your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 247-3652.

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