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Employment Background Check In Kenya

Kenya is a hub of the skilled and young population as 75% of the population is under the age of 35. Employers expanding their businesses in Kenya can hire talents from the country without much difficulty if they understand Kenya’s employment regulations. 

Revised Employment Act, 2012 of Kenyan Constitution, 2010 offers protection for all working citizens against discrimination based on age, gender, race, and religion and gives the right to privacy. However, these rights can vary for foreign nationals. 

Hiring is a long process that involves multiple steps: reviewing applications, employee screening, and selecting the right candidate. But, for candidates, the employee screening process can contradict their privacy rights when done wrongly. 

So, employers need to understand the employment background check process correctly before conducting it. This article will share a detailed guide to conducting a successful employee screening process in Kenya. 

What is Employment Background Verification?

An employment background verification process aims to meticulously screen job applicants’ education, employment history, criminal records, financial records, licenses, etc., to validate the legitimacy of applicants’ assertions. 

The background verification process takes 5-10 days, but it is worth it not to pass over it irrespective of how much time it takes. Employee background screening helps you find suitable employees and ward off job fraud.

Education background, identity, skills, and employment history are primary employee screening in Kenya,  similar to other countries. But, based on the particular profile the intensity of the screening process can vary.

Benefits of Background Checks in Kenya

Background checks uncover distorted information shared by candidates during interviews or in their resumes. It results in a poor hire that certainly poses a threat to the hiring organization. 

Implementing a pre-employment background check as standard procedure for hiring a new employee helps employers to-

  • improve the quality of new hire
  • eliminate the risk of negligent hiring
  • secure data
  • increase productivity
  • weed off unwanted candidates that can pose a potential threat and maintain workforce safety
  • reduce the chances of involuntary employee turnover that happens because of poor performance, ill-behavior, Cybersecurity theft, absenteeism, etc.
  • reduce employer’s costs
  • prevent financial frauds 

Are Background Checks Legal in Kenya?  

Yes, an employment background check in Kenya is legal when done with the prospective employees’ consent.

Under Article 31 (c) and (d), the Constitution of Kenya assures the right to privacy as a fundamental right for Kenya citizens. The enhancement to this right is the Data Protection Act, 2019. The Act came into effect on 25th November 2019, and implantation started in November 2020. 

As per Data Protection Act, background checks in Kenya can only be conducted after informing and getting written consent from the job applicants. An applicant has a full right to object to it. In that case, the employer has to cease the background verification process and reply to the candidate after reviewing the reason for opposing the check. 

As per Kenya background check law, it is illegal to share information collected through background verification by an employer with other HR agencies or employers. And, it is mandatory to register with the office of the Data Protection Commissioner for all data controllers and processors. 

Penalties for non-compliance to Data Protection Act in Kenya

A company found guilty of breaching Data Protection regulation will attract the following penalty as per the Act:

“In relation to an infringement of a provision of this Act, the maximum amount of the penalty that may be imposed by the Data Commissioner in a penalty notice is up to five million shillings, or in the case of an undertaking, up to one per centum of its annual turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is lower,” the Data Act reads in part.

Whereas, if an individual is found guilty, the penalty of a fine not exceeding 3 million Kshs or imprisonment, not more than ten years, or both, will be charged. 

Things to Know When Performing a Background Check in Kenya

As already shared, a pre- employment background check is meant to filter job applicants to find suitable employees for an organization. It is essential to cover every aspect of candidates’ backgrounds to make a good decision. Identity checks and address verification are first and foremost checks that every employer does. Except for these, here is the list of other checks that you should include in employee screening in Kenya: 

Employment history

An employment history check involves screening every aspect linked to a candidate’s past employment. An employer can contact previous employers to confirm the candidate’s claims regarding previous jobs, including company name, designation, tenure, salary, location, joining and end date, etc., but not limited to it.

If required, an employer can investigate the candidate’s general behavior and performance during the job tenure. 

Education history 

Education history verification helps employers hire qualified candidates and eliminates candidates with forged credentials. It involves vetting the degree, college, training, certification, scores, etc. 

An employer can contact the claimed institutions directly and get the required information to conduct an education history check.

Criminal record

A criminal background check in Kenya is crucial to minimize the chances of negligent hiring in an organization. In Kenya, an employer can ask a candidate to submit a valid Certificate of Good Conduct or Police Clearance Certificate issued by the Criminal Investigation Department. A valid certificate of good conduct conveys that a candidate has no criminal record and is a law-abiding citizen. This certificate’s validity lasts for one year only. 

Credit report 

A credit report signifies a candidate’s financial obligations and responsibilities. A credit background check is not mandatory for all candidates but only for candidates whose job profile allows them access to financial assets and transactions of an organization. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many employees are being laid off, which must have affected their financial condition and maybe credit report. So, a thorough check is required to make the right decision. 

Social life

Social life check means investigating a candidate’s information shared on social media by the candidate himself. The data protection act in Kenya doesn’t allow employers to collect any private information from social media without consent. But an employer can definitely get an idea about a candidate’s political view, thought process, etc., through social life check.

Medical record

A medical record check is mandatory in a job position where medical fitness is of foremost importance. But, in other cases, employers can also ask candidates to submit medical test reports with the candidate’s consent. 

Process Involved in Background Checks in Kenya

With the Data Protection Act, the first step of employee background screening in Kenya is to take written consent from candidates. Even once the employer collects the personal data, processing and transferring to other employers and agencies can only be done with the candidate’s permission. 

As per this act, the employer has to ask the candidate to apply for a job directly and cannot source the resume from any other site. The employer can collect basic information from the resume such as name, age, educational qualification, past job experience, marital status, location, and gender once the candidate submits it.

After getting the consent from the candidate, the employer can collect the following information or as required for a pre-employment background check in Kenya:

  • Copy of National Id card 
  • Copy of Address proof
  • Copy of Driving license
  • Copy of educational certificates
  • Copy of certificate of good conduct
  • Copy of medical records
  • Copy of Drug testing report
  • Copy of Payslip 

Once you get copies of the above documents, you can scrutinize them according to the respective procedures. It is necessary to maintain regulatory compliance while doing background checks in Kenya and not to neglect the candidate’s right to privacy. 

Industries That Are Most Suitable for Background Checks in Kenya

Any industry having valid reasons can conduct background checks in Kenya with the consent of the prospective candidate. Industries and situation where an employer need to conduct background checks as mandatory are: 

  • Financial Services
  • Legal firms
  • Healthcare industry
  • Manufacturing industry
  • Cybersecurity services
  • Government organizations
  • Hiring foreign talents
  • Any other job profile that needs proper licenses

How Multiplier Helps with Background Checks in Kenya

As discussed above, employee background screening is crucial for selecting high-quality human resources. If you find this process lengthy, you can consider hiring professional help for employee background screening in Kenya. 

Multiplier’s EOR solution helps you expand your business into Kenya without the need to register the subsidiary. Our integrated global employment solution enables you to simplify onboarding, payroll, benefits, and HR services compliantly.  

With our board network, we also assist employers with finding employee background screening professionals in the country. 

Book a demo and learn more about how Multiplier can do wonders for your business.

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