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Background Checks in China: Legal Guidelines and Best Practices

What Is Employment Background Verification?

Before an employer makes an employment offer to a job applicant in China, businesses generally perform a background check on prospective employees and job seekers. Personal information, educational history, criminal records, qualifications, and employer references are primary requirements for employee screening in China.

This article offers a brief overview of conducting background checks in China and some recommendations to assist employers in complying with Chinese labor laws and background check laws in China.

Benefits of Conducting Background Checks in China

From making an informed decision to hiring the most qualified employee for a position, there are several benefits of conducting a background check. We have compiled a list of the primary benefits below:

  • Conducting an employee background check in China helps you make an informed hiring decision. If you have all the information you need, you can rest assured that you’re hiring the right candidate.
  • A background check in China reduces workplace risks. You can determine whether a candidate has a history of violence by looking into their criminal history.
  • Employee screening in China can be used to check a candidate’s stated identity, certifications, education, and experience.
  • You can minimize the risk of claims or litigation stemming from negligent hiring. Negligent hiring lawsuits happen when an employer knew or should have known via due diligence that an employee/job seeker was a serious recruiting risk.
  • Employee background screening in China can boost regulatory adherence. A third-party provider of employment background checks in China with in-house compliance experts can help your organization build a screening solution that meets industry standards and local regulatory needs.
  • Before hiring, verify your candidate’s past to protect your company and staff from engaging with inappropriate prospects. It reduces the financial and human risk of hiring new personnel.
  • One of the most time-consuming and costly investments an organization can make is hiring great employees. You can protect this investment of yours by performing necessary background checks in China. This initial investment can make a big difference in the long run, especially when employing senior officials and management-level executives.
  • You shouldn’t solely rely on an applicant’s portrayal via their CV and self-provided references, especially with increasing instances of anomalies in candidate submissions. Instead, you should conduct a thorough background investigation to acquire the correct information about a prospect to ensure you can verify the complete picture. 
  • An employer could also be held accountable for an employee’s acts while working for the company. It is just another reason to make sure you make the right employment decision from the start to reduce long-term risk.

There is no law that deals with background checks in China. But, there are few laws that give protection to citizens against the usage of their personal data. So, it is mandatory  to get written consent from job applicants before conducting background screening. Employee screening in China ensures that employers select individuals capable of performing a particular job.

Things to Know When Performing a Background Check in China

According to Chinese employment regulations, only individuals with a clean criminal record can perform specific jobs after acquiring a Certificate of No Criminal Conviction (CNCC) from a local public security agency. 

The requests for CNCCs are not limited to applicants for CNCC jobs – anybody can apply for a CNNC if they submit an employer’s introduction letter along with other application paperwork.

Educational background and qualifications checks

An employer’s requirement that job candidates meet education and qualification standards is reasonable. As an employer, you can ask for relevant diplomas and/or certificates to verify applicants’ education and qualifications. 
Sometimes, applicants may fake diplomas and certificates, and you can verify their legitimacy, if necessary. For this, you can use a website designed by the PRC Ministry of Education (CHESICC) to check the qualifications of candidates and if they completed their higher education in China or abroad. If a candidate has completed their education overseas, the employer can ask them to submit a certificate issued by the ministry validating their education.
For special qualifications like CPA, you can verify the information published on the website of groups or institutes that issue these job qualifications (e.g., the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants).

Employment history

As an employer, you can request a reference from a past employer with the approval of a job application. Then, you can use the reference to decide whether or not to hire the candidate.
Before beginning the reference check, make sure you have the job applicant’s written agreement. Due to the lack of a precise definition under Chinese law, privacy could be interpreted broadly to encompass prior employment performance. As a result, requesting a reference from a past employer without the applicant’s authorization could be considered an invasion of the applicant’s privacy.

Criminal history

Chinese criminal records are preserved in government records and databases operated by the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China and its regional counterparts, i.e., the Criminal Record Database.
Under applicable rules and regulations, only people who are not convicted criminals can undertake particular tasks. An applicant must get a Certificate of No Criminal Conviction (CNCC) before performing CNCC jobs. Employees can obtain the Certificate from a local public security office.
In China, employers cannot directly go to the Criminal Record Database to check the criminal records of prospective employees. However, they can demand the candidate get a CNCC or hire a commercial investigator to perform a background check.
According to Article 217 of the PRC Company Law, anyone convicted for committing a criminal penalty for bribery, corruption, theft of property, or in case of property encroachment if five years haven’t passed after the sentencing cannot hold the post of senior management or a director.
Suppose the position offered falls within the ambit of CNCC job criteria. In that case, employers in China must ask candidates to present a Certificate of No Criminal Conviction before applying for the said job.
To comply with applicable rules and regulations, an employer in China must perform a criminal background check to assess the employment status while proposing a new job offer or terminating an existing employee if the position is a CNCC job.
However, it is essential to note that there isn’t any China background check law to prevent employers from declining to employ a job applicant who is a convicted criminal if the job in question is not within the scope of CNCC jobs. They need not provide any explanation for their decision.

Information Essential for a Background Check in China

It is essential to collect the applicant’s full name in Chinese characters and their Chinese identification number to undertake background checks in China, particularly for job and education verifications. This is because many Chinese schools and employers keep track of names in Chinese and do not have an English translation. There are over ten ways to convert an English name to Chinese and vice versa.

Before launching a background screening procedure in China, organizations should be aware of several legal and cultural factors. Also, while China does not yet have any explicit information security regulations, the PRC Constitution says that a resident’s right to privacy is protected as a fundamental right. 

In 2017, China passed the Cybersecurity Law of China, which mandates that Chinese companies with data undergo government security checks. The Information Security Technology – Guide for Personal Information Protection, or Draft Guidelines, has been distributed by China’s Ministry of Information and Industry. These regulations deal with handling sensitive Chinese data and data transmission outside China. However, different regions within China may have their own civil or local laws to ensure security assurance for a background check in China.

Process Involved in Background Checks

  • Background check China begins with having a clear standing of the information you require as an employer.
  • While performing a background check in China, the primary information you should be looking for includes employment history, criminal records, education history, credit report, and qualification details. 
  • Collect relevant information, including an applicant’s name, address, date of birth, last known address, employment history, educational qualifications, photograph, etc.
  • Start performing the employment background screening in China. There are numerous ways to investigate applicants’ backgrounds, from verifying their personal information to a criminal record and more.

Industries and Situations That are Most Suitable for Background Check in China?

  • Any working environment where ‘vulnerable’ or ‘special needs’ employees are involved, such as aged care, children, people with disabilities
  • Healthcare
  • Financial services
  • Legal services
  • Energy and utilities
  • Manufacturing, transportation, and construction
  • Government and education
  • Any occupation or position requiring licensing or registration
  • Hiring employees who have previously resided overseas

Thorough background checks would be most beneficial in these businesses and scenarios to guarantee that candidates are suitable for work in this setting. The list is by no means exhaustive, as every company faces risks when recruiting new staff. We recommend that all firms perform background checks in China for optimal peace of mind.

How Multiplier Helps With Background Checks?

Multiplier is leading the way in helping businesses grow globally and employ a talented and skilled workforce from anywhere in the world. We take care of your global team along with managing their payroll, social contributions, benefits, local insurance policies, taxes, and more. Thus, our team can efficiently guide you through the intricacies of background check processes in China.

Frequently Asked Questions

Employers must obtain written consent from job applicants before beginning the reference check with the applicant’s previous employers. Furthermore, the employer can share details from the background check with its affiliates only if prior written consent has been obtained from the potential employee or job applicant.

You’ll need to appoint a representative to apply on your behalf. They shall be required to submit their details, including their Chinese ID card and an authorization letter signed by you. These documents are needed in addition to your documents: your passport with Chinese Visa, work permit, residence permit, an authorization letter from your school or employer that confirms your status, employment contract, and application fees.

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