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Guide to Background Checks for Employees in Pakistan

When recruiting employees in Pakistan, conducting background checks should be an indispensable part of the hiring process. While not mandatory, they are a common practice, especially in the financial and healthcare industries.

Why is it so crucial? Screening candidates not only helps to verify the capabilities of new employees but also ensures a safe and reliable work environment.

In a country with such a vast labor market (with a working-age population of 85.78 million) and rapid growth, understanding how to conduct effective background checks will help you sift through a large pool of candidates and find the most suitable fit for the position.

In this article, you’ll discover:

Which types of background checks are legal in Pakistan
Steps for conducting effective employee background checks
Mistakes to avoid when conducting background checks in Pakistan
Basic Information on Background Checks in Pakistan

Employee background checks involve verifying a potential employee’s work history, educational background, professional qualifications, and any criminal records they may have. Engaging in these checks before finalizing employment offers or signing contracts is particularly advantageous as it ensures candidates meet the organization’s standards and requirements.

In Pakistan, the legal framework governing employment background checks is primarily set forth by the Data Protection Act and the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act of 1996. The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) are key organizations involved in maintaining and managing personal data and telecommunications records.

The duration of the background check process may vary depending on the complexity of verifications required. Typically, completing the process might take anywhere from several days to a few weeks. However, if you need a quick background check, services like Deel can complete the process within minutes.

Are Background Checks Legal in Pakistan?

Yes, background checks are legal in Pakistan. Pakistani law does not explicitly prohibit background checks on job applicants, whether conducted by employers directly or through external agencies. However, under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), employers must obtain the candidate’s consent before conducting background checks.

Additionally, companies conducting background checks must adhere to data protection laws and avoid infringing on candidates’ privacy rights. All collected information must be used for the purpose it was gathered for and should not be disclosed to unauthorized parties.

It’s also worth noting that candidates have the right to refuse background checks before employment in Pakistan. However, their refusal may affect their eligibility for certain positions, especially those requiring thorough security and credibility assessments.

Types of Background Checks Illegal in Pakistan

While Pakistani regulations do not explicitly prohibit employee background checks, certain prohibited practices may lead to legal consequences for employers, such as fines, potential lawsuits, and reputational damage.

Credit checks and obtaining information through unauthorized means without the candidate’s consent are considered illegal.
Employers should avoid soliciting information not directly related to the candidate’s job responsibilities and respect data privacy laws.
Types of Checks Common in Pakistan Reasons
Employment Verification Common Ensures the accuracy of candidates’ work history and performance.
Criminal Record Checks Common Important for assessing candidates’ legal history and ensuring workplace safety.
Credit History Checks Uncommon Due to privacy concerns and limited access to credit record information, these are less common.
Social Media Screening Common Increasingly common to gauge candidates’ professional behavior and online image.
Professional License Checks Common Essential for verifying candidates’ professional credentials, especially in regulated industries.
Drug Testing Uncommon Industries like transportation, healthcare, and law enforcement may conduct drug tests as part of their pre-employment screening process.

Types of Background Checks in Pakistan

In Pakistan, the scope of employment screening encompasses several key areas to help evaluate candidates’ capabilities. Understanding these types can assist employers in customizing screening processes to meet specific job requirements and legal standards.

When Should You Conduct Employee Background Checks in Pakistan?

The timing of employee background checks plays a vital role in ensuring top-tier talent. Ideally, these checks should be conducted after extending conditional job offers to candidates but before formal employment commences.

This approach ensures all potential employees receive fair and consistent evaluations, preventing any inadvertent discrimination.

Additionally, certain positions, especially those involving financial responsibilities, access to sensitive information, or direct interaction with vulnerable groups, may require stricter and immediate background checks.

Background Check Mistakes to Avoid in Pakistan

Whether you’re hiring employees or contractors in Pakistan, as an employer, there are certain things you shouldn’t do when it comes to background checks. Here they are:

Inadequate consent: Failing to obtain explicit consent from candidates before conducting background checks can lead to legal consequences.
Biased screening: Allowing personal biases to influence the employment screening process may result in discriminatory hiring practices.
Lack of data protection: Insufficient measures to protect candidates’ personal information may violate data protection laws.
Incomplete verifications: Relying solely on self-disclosed information from candidates without thorough verification can lead to inaccurate hiring.
Collecting excessive information: Gathering excessive data about potential employees may invade privacy and infringe on their rights, posing risks of non-compliance with privacy regulations and ethical concerns.
Step-by-Step Guide to Employee Background Checks in Pakistan

Here’s a list of steps Pakistani employers should follow to ensure legal and effective background checks:

Obtain candidate consent: Before commencing background checks, obtain written consent from the candidate. The consent form typically includes the candidate’s full name (including any maiden or alias names), current address, date of birth, and social security number, among other details.
Verify identity: Verify the candidate’s identity using their national identity card or passport through NADRA.
Verify work experience: Contact previous employers to verify the candidate’s work experience and performance.
Verify educational qualifications: Verify the candidate’s education certificates from the respective educational institutions.
Check criminal records: Conduct criminal record checks through the local police station or NADRA.
Check references: Speak with the candidate’s provided references to gain insights into their professional behavior and ethics.
Check financial history: Within legal boundaries, verify the candidate’s financial history to ensure alignment and relevance with the job role.
Social media screening: Professionally review the candidate’s social media involvement and presence on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to gauge their personality and professional image. This assessment should consider privacy as well as relevance and cultural fit with the job.
Regulatory compliance: Ensure compliance with data protection laws and regulations throughout the background check process.
Documentation and reporting: Maintain comprehensive records of the background check process and compile a comprehensive report for review.
By following these steps, employers in Pakistan can conduct background checks effectively and lawfully, facilitating informed hiring decisions and fostering a safe and reliable work environment.

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