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Effective Guide to Conducting Background Checks in France

Employers must be acutely aware of France’s data protection and privacy laws to compliantly carry out an employment background check in France. 

Despite its challenges, it is gainful to evaluate a potential candidate’s merit and credibility to establish a safe and productive environment in the company. 

Here’s a detailed guide to understand how employee screening in France works.

What is Employment Background Verification?

Employment background verification involves performing in-depth analysis to verify the information provided by candidates. It helps employers avoid bad hiring decisions that lead to significant monetary loss or unwanted legal liabilities. 

By implementing an effective employee verification strategy, you can weed out bad candidates and narrow down your choices to the most reliable professionals for a role. Proper employee screening in France will allow you to hire candidates who can create value for your organization. 

Benefits of Background Checks in France

Before hiring an employee in France, all employers must perform a screening according to France’s background check law because:

Minimizes employee turnover

A thorough employee screening process helps you make well-informed hiring decisions. 

When you investigate candidates’ employment, education, credit, and criminal history, you can identify the most competent and trustworthy people.  A screening process minimizes the risks of employee turnover.

Eliminates negligence in hiring

Negligence in the hiring process can bring unreliable people to your team. It also affects your company’s performance and reputation in the long haul. 

In most situations involving negligent hiring in France, companies have to answer for the employees’ actions. Since companies are legally and morally liable to maintain transparency in the workplace, it is crucial to conduct a proper background check before hiring people. Furthermore, when lawsuits are filed in a court against an organization for occupational employee fraud, it affects the employees’ morale and public confidence in the company. 

Improves quality of job applications

According to many French companies, pre-employment background checks in France can drastically increase high-quality job application submissions. 

When companies perform regular employee screening, it ensures that the applications the HR team gets have fewer discrepancies and misinformation. Furthermore, a stringent screening process discourages candidates with questionable histories from applying in the first place, thus reducing the possibility of fraudulent people in the workforce. 

Creates a safe workplace

Employees with dubious history can be detrimental to maintaining a safe workplace. A background check process can identify and eliminate candidates who may be potential threats, making the workplace safe for everyone.

According to Article L.1221-6 of the French Labour Code employee screening in France is legally permitted as long as employers only collect data relevant to the job role. 

Medical checks are permitted only when it is crucial to the employee’s performance. Under the Labour Law passed on 8th August 2016, named Loi travail, the clause of mandatory initial medical checking was removed.

Despite no explicit sanction for or prohibition against it in the Labour Code, criminal background checks in France should be conducted only for roles involving security responsibilities, like handling sensitive data or minors. 

Furthermore, employers must request the candidate’s consent before conducting employee background screening in France. French corporate and legal veterans opine that employment-related consent cannot be freely obtained nor given in the true sense of the term.

Hence, it is advisable to consult professionals before conducting an HR background check in France.

Things to Know When Performing a Background Check in France

Employers must know what information about a candidate is accessible 

Here’s a checklist for you:

Past employment

Applicants may tend to fabricate their job experience in their resumes. Thus, you must verify a candidate’s work experience or past employment history by connecting with their previous organizations. 

This will prove if a candidate has given truthful specifications about their job roles, previous employers, and duration of employment. Also, verifying the employment history tells you about a candidate’s productivity and work ethic. 

Educational history

As university degrees are becoming almost a necessary qualification for every job, employers must verify the educational history while conducting pre-employment background checks in France. You can cross-check an applicant’s qualifications by contacting the specified institutions in their resume. 

Criminal records

If the employment is in a vulnerable and high-risk sector, like healthcare, education, banking & finance, or IT, employers must proactively conduct a criminal background check for the candidate.

Information Essential for a Background Check in France

For an all-comprehensive background check in France, you must acquire the following documents from the potential employee: 

  • Their full name, date of birth, and contact information
  • Temporary and permanent address with proper landmark
  • Copy of identity proof
  • Final year mark sheet for a college degree and provisional/consolidated degree certificate, and other necessary information about their qualifications. 
  • Previous employer’s name, contact details, and employment release form
  • If needed, legit references, their relationship with the referee(s), and contact details.

Process Involved in Background Checks in France

Employment background checks in France encompass investigating everything from personal information to criminal records. While employers may perform the screening themselves, they can hire a professional third-party service to ensure accuracy and compliance. 

To perform a pre-employment background check in France, you must do extensive research on what is allowed by the law. Check the local, national and international laws depending upon the nationality and citizenship of the employee you are recruiting. Since France is a member of the European Union, it must abide by the General Data Protection Regulation, effective from May 25, 2018. 

An employer or any party conducting a background check in France must adhere to the six privacy principles:

Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency

Purpose limitations

You must explicitly state your specified and legitimate purpose for collecting personal data from confidential records.

Data minimization

You can collect only that information that is adequate, relevant, and necessary for your screening process. 


The organization performing the background check must ensure that the data collected is accurate and up-to-date. 

Storage limitations

The information required for a background check should be retained only as long as necessary. 

Integrity and confidentiality

The data should be handled carefully and discreetly to avoid unlawful data handling or tampering. 

The General Data Protection Regulation’s clauses mandate you to obtain the required authorization from the candidates before accessing their data. Once you have obtained their consent, you can start the background check. However, you may also postpone it for the onboarding process by informing the employees that the job offer will be valid only if their background check results are satisfactory.

The means of accessing the information depends upon the type of information you are looking for. 

Criminal records check

It falls under Bulletin no.3. Only the data subject (the individual being investigated) can access it from the Ministry of Justice as a certificate. The potential employee can submit the certificate to their employer(s). 

Civil records check

This is a local-level verification. One can get the certificate from the local court of the city mentioned in the application. 

Bankruptcy records check

This must also be procured from the city’s local court mentioned in the application.

Educational qualification check

Usually, only the highest degree qualification is verified by the academic institution. 

Past employment check

You can contact past employers to verify the information provided about an applicant’s previous job experience. 

Reference check

You can contact the references via telephone or mail and use a standard set of questions for more insight on a candidate.

Motor vehicles record check

You can access the vehicle records per the legal norms. 

Industries and Situations That are Most Suitable for Background Checks in France

The following industries and employment sectors must screen employees as per the France background check law:

  • Jobs involving the care and protection of vulnerable sections of the population, like children and the elderly
  • Healthcare services Legal sector.
  • Government jobs, especially those concerning federal security
  • Education sector 
  • International employment sector
  • Substance abuse and rehab facilities
  • Mental healthcare 

How Multiplier Helps With Background Checks?

To conclude, employee background screening has become necessary in almost all modern industries. Since companies worldwide handle data and many other sensitive responsibilities daily, they must hire trustworthy candidates to ensure legal compliance and optimal productivity. 

However, data privacy concerns in France can be challenging to circumvent. Needless to say, an HR background check in France is a time-consuming task. So, why not take professional help?

Multiplier can help you be compliant with the international employment laws and eliminates all risks involved in hiring international talent. Our experts are well-versed in the employment and labor laws of over 150 nations. Hence, we can ensure that you take the right steps while screening candidates and hiring only top talent for your organization.

Frequently Asked Questions

If an employer gets access to verified criminal records for which an applicant/employee has previously been convicted, they have the right to refuse the employment offer or dismiss them. However, such a choice is subject to Article L. 1121-1 of the French Legal Code. The proportionality clause of this article states that individual rights cannot be restricted if the means taken for such obstruction do not comply with the job to be performed.

There are specific questions you cannot ask a candidate during the interview for background screening. Refrain from asking questions on sensitive issues like family background, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, appearance, political and religious opinions, etc. You should also avoid queries about previous payslips unless the candidate mentions them.

If the background checks are conducted without notifying the candidate, and if the candidate finds any information in the screening to be disputed, they can refuse to proceed with the background checking procedure.

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