Employee background checks in Pakistan

A Guide to Employee Background Checks in Poland

Hiring in Poland? Learn the steps of running legal employee background checks, and enhance your candidate's hiring and screening process.

Michał Kowalewski
Written by Michał Kowalewski
February 29, 2024

Key takeaways

  1. Background checks in Poland are legal but require strict adherence to data protection laws, including obtaining candidate consent and limiting data collection
  2. Common background checks in Poland include criminal record checks, employment verification, and reference checks. Social media screening is less common and requires caution
  3. Employers should follow a step-by-step process to ensure a legal and effective background check, including obtaining consent, defining the scope, and documenting the process

Employee background checks should be an integral part of your hiring process in Poland. Although not mandatory, they are a common practice, especially in finance, healthcare, education, security, law enforcement, and public sector.

Poland's rapid economic growth and a strong educational system have made it an attractive hub for hiring, particularly in the IT sector. The country has a pool of highly skilled talent, offering a compelling mix of cost-effectiveness and high-quality output, with minimal cultural barriers and excellent communication skills due to high English proficiency.

When hiring in Poland, it's important to be mindful of local employment laws, especially regarding background checks, which are mostly prohibited unless candidates give their consent. This emphasizes the need for a thorough understanding of local practices to ensure a smooth and compliant recruitment process​.

In this article, you will discover:

  • How to run an effective and legal employment screening in Poland 
  • What are the common types of employee checks in Poland
  • Step-by-step process of a thorough employee screening
  • What mistakes to avoid when performing a background check in Poland

Essential information for a background check in Poland

An employee background check is the process of verifying a potential hire’s work history, education, professional qualifications, and any criminal records they might have. It’s particularly beneficial to run before finalizing an employment offer or signing a contract, ensuring the candidate meets the company's standards and requirements. 

In Poland, employee background checks are governed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the President of the Personal Data Protection Office (UODO).

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): Emphasizes the protection of personal data in the European Union, impacting how employee background checks are conducted by requiring lawful, fair, and transparent data processing. Organizations must ensure they have a legitimate basis for such checks, often necessitating explicit consent from the individual​

  • President of the Personal Data Protection Office (UODO): Plays a crucial role in overseeing the enforcement of GDPR within the country, ensuring that organizations adhere to data protection and privacy laws during employee background checks and other data processing activities. PUODO's responsibilities include monitoring compliance, providing guidance to organizations, and addressing individuals' complaints regarding data protection violations.

Unique cultural and legal considerations in Poland include a strong emphasis on privacy rights and data protection. Polish culture values personal privacy, and individuals are sensitive about the collection and use of their personal information. Recruiters conducting background checks in Poland must respect these cultural values and ensure that they comply with the stringent data protection regulations.

Are background checks legal in Poland?

Background checks are legal in Poland, provided that they comply with the GDPR and other relevant data protection laws. 

Recruiters must obtain the candidate's consent before conducting a background check, and the processing of personal data must be justified by a legitimate purpose, such as assessing the candidate's suitability for employment. Although it’s not specified in the law, written consent is recommended for documentation and compliance purposes. 

Specific regulations and restrictions related to background checks in Poland include limitations on the types of information that can be collected and the retention period of the data. Recruiters should be aware of the data minimization principle, which requires that only necessary data be processed for the intended purpose.  Additionally, sensitive personal data, such as information about criminal convictions, can only be processed under strict conditions specified in the GDPR and Polish labor laws.

What types of background checks are illegal in Poland?

In Poland, background checks that involve the indiscriminate collection of personal data or infringe upon an individual's privacy rights are considered illegal. 

Stay clear of:

  • Non-consensual verifications: Conducting a credit check without the candidate's consent or obtaining information about a candidate's religious beliefs or political opinions is prohibited. 
  • Unlawful practices: Recruiters must refrain from using deceptive or unfair methods to obtain information during a background check, as such practices violate the principles of fairness and transparency under the GDPR.
  • Social media checks: Employers should be cautious when considering social media checks as part of the background screening process. While reviewing publicly available information about a candidate on social media platforms is not forbidden, recruiters must exercise discretion and ensure that the information obtained is relevant to the job requirements. Using social media to gather information about a candidate's protected characteristics, such as their race, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation, is prohibited and may lead to legal consequences.

Violating data privacy laws during employee background checks in Poland can lead to significant legal repercussions due to strict adherence to the GDPR and local data protection laws.

Specifically, the GDPR outlines a two-tier fine system for infringements. Less severe violations can result in fines up to €10 million or 2% of the firm's global annual revenue from the previous fiscal year, whichever is higher. More serious infringements, however, can attract fines of up to €20 million or 4% of the firm's worldwide annual revenue from the preceding financial year, again whichever is higher.

Poland's data protection authority issued its first GDPR fine to Bisnode back in 2019. The digital marketing company was fined 220,000 euros for not fulfilling data subject rights obligations under Article 14 of the GDPR. The authority required Bisnode to contact 6 million people to meet its information notification requirements, viewing the company's failure as a significant breach of GDPR principles

Common background check industries in Poland

In Poland, various industries rely on employee background checks to ensure the integrity and reliability of their workforce. Some of the common industries where background checks are prevalent include:

  • Financial services: Due to the nature of handling sensitive financial information, the financial services industry conducts thorough background checks to assess the integrity and trustworthiness of potential employees
  • Healthcare: Healthcare organizations prioritize patient safety and confidentiality, leading to extensive background checks to ensure the qualifications and ethical conduct of healthcare professionals
  • Education: Educational institutions conduct background checks to verify the credentials and suitability of teaching staff, especially for positions involving interactions with children and young adults
  • Government and public sector: Given the public trust associated with government roles, background checks are standard practice to assess the integrity and reliability of candidates
  • Security and law enforcement: Background checks are crucial in the security and law enforcement sector to evaluate the character and suitability of individuals entrusted with public safety responsibilities

Types of background checks in Poland

Effective employment screening in Poland covers essential aspects to evaluate a candidate's abilities. Knowing these areas helps employers tailor screening processes to meet job requirements and legal standards.

Type of Check Common in Poland Reason
Criminal Record Check Common Essential for assessing the candidate's trustworthiness and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements  
Employment Verification  Common Validates the candidate's work history and performance, providing insights into their professional experience and conduct
Education Verification Common Confirms the authenticity of the candidate's educational qualifications, ensuring that they possess the required academic credentials
Credit History Check Common    Common for positions involving financial responsibilities, as it assesses the candidate's financial integrity and reliability    
Reference Check Common Offers valuable insights into the candidate's work ethic, interpersonal skills, and suitability for the job position
Social Media Screening Less common While social media screening can provide additional insights into a candidate's behavior and professional conduct, its use is less prevalent compared to traditional background checks

Background check mistakes to avoid in Poland

Whether you’re hiring employees or contractors in Poland, there are a few things you shouldn’t do as an employer when it comes to background checks:

  • Failure to obtain consent: Neglecting to obtain the candidate's explicit consent before initiating a background check can result in non-compliance with data protection laws and potential legal repercussions
  • Overreliance on social media: Overemphasis on information obtained from social media without considering its relevance to the job requirements or potential privacy violations
  • Discriminatory practices: Using background checks to gather information about a candidate's protected characteristics, such as age, race, or disability, which can lead to allegations of discrimination
  • Lack of transparency: Failing to inform candidates about the purpose and scope of the background check, violating the principles of transparency and fairness under the GDPR
  • Inaccurate information: Relying on unverified or outdated sources for background check information, leading to misinformed hiring decisions
  • Retention of excessive data: Collecting and retaining more personal data than necessary for the background check, contravening the data minimization principle
  • Non-compliance with data protection laws: Disregarding the requirements of the GDPR and other relevant data protection regulations, leading to potential fines and legal consequences

Step-by-step guide to employee background checks in Poland

Employers looking to hire in Poland should follow the list of steps below to ensure legal and effective and thorough employee background checks.

  1. Obtain candidate consent: Before initiating a background check, recruiters must obtain the candidate's explicit consent and inform them about the purpose and scope of the check.
  2. Define the scope of the check: Clearly outline the specific information that will be gathered during the background check, ensuring that it is relevant to the job position.
  3. Data collection: Collect only the necessary data required for the background check, adhering to the principles of data minimization and purpose limitation.
  4. Verification of credentials: Verify the candidate's educational qualifications, professional certifications, and previous employment history through reputable sources.
  5. Criminal record check: Conduct a criminal record check in compliance with the GDPR and Polish labor laws, ensuring that the processing of sensitive personal data is justified.
  6. Reference checks: Contact the candidate's previous employers or professional references to verify their work experience and performance.
  7. Financial history check: With the candidate's consent, conduct a financial history check to assess their financial responsibility, particularly for positions involving financial management or fiduciary duties.
  8. Social media screening: Exercise caution when reviewing publicly available information on social media, ensuring that the information obtained is relevant to the job requirements and does not infringe upon the candidate's privacy rights.
  9. Document the process: Maintain records of the background check process, including the candidate's consent, the information gathered, and the justification for processing the data.
  10. Decision making: Utilize the information obtained from the background check to make informed hiring decisions, ensuring that the process is fair, transparent, and compliant with data protection laws.

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