The 3 Types of Employment Background Check in China

The employment background check in China is progressively gaining traction.

Before making an employment offer in China, it is typical for businesses to conduct background checks on prospective seekers. Criminal records, educational history, qualifications, and references from past employers are all common requirements.

In our experience in HR, we supported many clients with background checks for their employees to hire. We wrote this article to answer some of the common questions about the employment background in China.


What is an employment background check in China?

A background check is a procedure used by a person or corporation to ensure that someone is who they say they are.

Background checks allow you to check a person’s criminal record, education, employment history, and other past activities to ensure that they are accurate.

Before making an employment offer in China, it is typical for businesses to conduct background checks on prospective seekers.

Criminal records, educational history, qualifications, and references from past employers are all common requirements.

Types of background checks in China

There are multiple types of background checks that are employed in various scenarios.

Here we will look at the 3 most commonly used in China to have a better guarantee that the information of the candidate to hire is correct.

But first of all, what are the benefits of conducting a background check before hiring a candidate?

  1. Make an educated hiring decision – You may be confident that you’re making the appropriate hire if you have all of the information you need.
  2. Reduce workplace risks – By looking into a candidate’s relevant criminal past, you can find out if they have a history of violence.
  3. Verification of candidate claims – Background screening can be used to check a candidate’s claimed identity, certifications, education, and experience.
  4. Reduce the likelihood of claims or litigation based on irresponsible hiring – When an employer knew (or should have known through due diligence) that an employee was a severe recruiting risk, negligent hiring claims arise.
  5. Improve regulatory compliance – A third-party background screening supplier with in-house compliance knowledge can assist your firm in appropriately developing a screening solution that meets not only your industry standards, but also local regulatory requirements, which can vary by city and job type.

So, let’s take a look now at the type of background checks in China.

Criminal background check

Criminal records of Chinese individuals are kept in government databases run by the PRC Ministry of Public Security and its local counterparts (the “Criminal Record Database”).

Only persons without any criminal convictions are permitted to conduct specific jobs under applicable laws and regulations, and candidates must receive a Certificate of No Criminal Conviction (“CNCC”) from a local public security office before performing such jobs (“CNCC Jobs”).

As an employer, you are not allowed to check criminal records in the database, but you should ask the candidate to do it or use the services of a commercial investigator.

About the CNCC jobs mentioned before, as indicated by Article 217 of the PRC Company Law, these are senior managers including the manager, deputy manager and the person in charge of financial affairs of a company, and the secretary of a board of directors of a listed company and the other persons specified in a company’s articles of association.

The law states that anyone that has been sentenced to any criminal penalty due to an offense of bribery, corruption, misappropriation of property, encroachment of property, and 5 years have not passed yet after the sentence cannot take the position of director or senior manager as indicated in the article 217.

Employers must require job applicants to submit a CNCC before making any job offer if the position comes within the scope of CNCC Job requirements.

If the job is a CNCC job, an employer must use a criminal record to assess employment status when proposing a job or terminating an existing employee in order to comply with applicable laws and regulations.

As far as we know, no legislation forbids an employer from refusing to hire a person with a criminal conviction if the job offered is not a CNCC job. Furthermore, the employer is not required to give a reason for the choice.

A clarification on commercial investigation

Through relationships with local public security offices, some commercial investigation firms have access to the Criminal Record Database. They will disclose a job applicant’s criminal record for a cost that normally runs from USD $2,000 to $2,500.

This can be a practical way to have the criminal record without asking the job seeker to take it, but the legality is questionable for two main reasons:

  1. The Criminal Record Database is considered a state secret and buying records from a commercial investigator may violate laws related to state secrets;
  2. A criminal record is considered private and buying a record from a commercial investigator can be considered an infringement of the applicant’s privacy.

Qualifications check

Employers may ask for applicable diplomas and/or certificates to verify education and qualifications. Of course, diplomas and certificates can be faked, and employers can verify their legitimacy if necessary.

Employers can use a website designated by the PRC Ministry of Education (CHESICC) to check job applicants’ higher education, whether completed in China or overseas. 

An employer may ask a job applicant to submit a certificate issued by the ministry validating the applicant’s education if the education was completed outside of China.

In case of specific qualifications, if the applicant claims to have a professional qualification, such as a CPA certificate, you can examine the website of the relevant domestic professional organization, such as the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants, to see if this is true.

References from previous employers

An employer may request a reference from a past employer with the approval of a job applicant and use the reference to help decide whether or not to hire the candidate.

Obtaining the written consent is important in order to avoid potential privacy infringement.

But checking references might not be enough, especially for certain positions.

Due to a conflict of interest with a prior employer, an applicant may have links with companies that they didn’t mention throughout the application process (his own company competes with his previous employer, for example).

Or the applicant was involved in civil or criminal litigation.

Or if the applicant held an executive position, scandals may have occurred under his watch that, while not directly implicating him, speak volumes about his capacity to ensure that his subordinates follow the law and regulations.

For some of this information, you can use the publicly available corporate and litigation records, while for others, you will need more sophisticated investigative methods.

Conclusion

Conducting a background check is becoming an important aspect to consider when hiring employees in China, to avoid problems and more costs in the future.

With our PEO service in China, we can support companies to conduct a background check before hiring employees, to make sure that all the information about the employee is correct.

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