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PRC Labour Law - Bitesize: Can I conduct a background check on a job applicant in the PRC?

3 December 2009
Mayer Brown JSM Newsletter

Can I conduct a background check on a job applicant in the PRC?

Yes you can. There are no legal restrictions on the ability of an employer or any third party acting on behalf of an employer to conduct background checks on job applicants in the PRC.

However, in practice, there may be some difficulty in obtaining information about an individual from certain information providers. The written authorization of the relevant individual will usually be required, and even then there may still be contractual commitments or internal policies which may restrict the provision of information.

Must I obtain the consent of job applicants prior to carrying out the background checks?

No, there is no legal requirement under the PRC law to obtain an individual’s consent before carrying out a background check. However, aside from the fact that some organizations do require consent of the individual before releasing information, it would be also a good practice to obtain the relevant individuals’ written consent before any background checks are conducted in respect of them.

Can I ask for information such as credit history as part of the background checks?

Again, there are no restrictions on the types of the background checks that may be conducted under the PRC law.

In practice, you can decide what information you need to have based on the nature of the relevant role. In addition to the employment history, other types of background check information an employer may also ask for include the individuals’ credit history, criminal record, directorship status and any involvement in civil litigation.

It is important that as an employer you ensure that your own staff and any third party acting as your agent do not use any personal relationship or other unlawful means to obtain information in case this exposes you to potential liabilities. This should be reflected in any contractual arrangement with the third party who conducts the background checks.

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