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Background Checks In Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island transitioning from an agricultural economy to a modern industrial and services-oriented economy. With a potential Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 109.20 USD billion, investments in the unincorporated U.S. territory, Puerto Rico, are ably supported by a talented pool of skilled local workforce. 

Companies seeking talented and experienced employees in Puerto Rico must comply with the local hiring rules and regulations. Employers are encouraged to follow responsible hiring practices to avoid legal and financial liabilities while hiring, onboarding, and managing employees. 

Conducting employment background checks helps companies find talented and trustworthy employees. You can find the right fit for the role from a pool of skilled professionals in Puerto Rico. It also helps maintain productivity, accountability, and safety in the workplace. 

Companies and employers looking to conduct background checks in Puerto Rico will find the following page informative and helpful. 

What Is Employment Background Verification?

Employment background verification refers to gathering and verifying a candidate’s personal and professional data. Employers can perform employment background checks on potential and current employees to maintain the integrity and productivity of the workplace. 

During a background check, companies typically verify criminal, financial, work, and education records. It is not a compulsory practice in all industries. However, conducting an employment background verification is part of the responsible hiring process. Moreover, verifying academic qualifications and work experience ensures that the candidate can handle the job responsibilities. 

While conducting these background searches, employers are required to stay compliant with local rules and regulations. Employers can dedicate an HR team to look after background verification during the interview process. They can also partner with third-party solutions with expertise in finding innovative compliance solutions. 

Benefits of Background Checks in Puerto Rico

A pre-employment background check in Puerto Rico helps employers and companies hire talented and skilled professionals. They can verify whether the candidate can understand and manage the scope of the work. 

A background check also verifies whether the applicants’ have submitted the correct information in their resumes. 

Here are the detailed benefits of conducting employee background screening in Puerto Rico. 

Maintaining the standard of job applications

  • Including a background check during hiring leads to applications with fewer discrepancies. When candidates know of the background verification beforehand, they submit authentic applications. 
  • Employers have noted that when the hiring process mentions background searches, the standard of job applications increases. It tends to save the company and recruiters’ time. 
  • Employers notice most discrepancies in education and work history. You can filter out suitable candidates with a thorough employee screening. It leaves recruiters with certified and right candidates to choose from. 

Finding the best fit

  • Not conducting employment background checks may lead to financial losses or legal liabilities for many industries and job positions. 
  • Moreover, suppose an employer hires a candidate and finds out they aren’t suited for the role. They have to repeat the hiring process until they find the right fit.
  • For example, hiring the wrong candidate for high-level executive positions can lead to financial losses. 
  • So, conducting employee screening ensures that companies find the right candidate with the necessary qualifications and work experience.   

Upholding accountability and productivity

  • Multiple hiring processes negatively impact the work. 
  • Constant changes hamper the productivity of the workplace. Instead of thinking about strengthening the team, employers have to keep filling in vacancies. 
  • However, companies can make an informed decision to avoid repeating hiring processes within a few months with a background check. 
  • Also, conducting criminal background checks ensures that the workforce is safe and maintains accountability. 

Proper utilization of time and resources

  • As mentioned above, constantly filling vacancies disrupts the productivity of the workplace. But that’s not all. It is a massive drain on the company’s time and resources. 
  • Hiring processes cost employers, and going through them repetitively may strain company resources. 
  • Therefore, hiring the right fit the first time is essential to avoid this wastage. 

Align with responsible hiring practices

  • In some industries, like childcare or security, not conducting a background check can make the company vulnerable to legal risks. 
  • Therefore, aligning with responsible hiring processes avoids legal liabilities and maintains integrity. 

Are Background Checks Legal in Puerto Rico?

Yes, employment background checks are legal in Puerto Rico. However, employers must abide by specific parameters for lawful employee screening. 

The following entities have set the guidelines for background checks in Puerto Rico: 

  • Puerto Rican Constitution
    1. Article II, section 1 stating, ‘The dignity of the human being is inviolable.’
    2. Article II, section 8, states, ‘Every person has the right to the protection of the law against abusive attacks on his honor, reputation, and private or family life.’  
  • Supreme Court judgment in Rosario Diaz v Toyota de Puerto Rico, Corp, 2005 prohibiting discrimination based on the prior criminal conviction
  • 1970 Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
  • General Anti-Discrimination Act
  • Act to Protect Employee’s Credit Information (Act No. 150, 2019)

Employers can perform background checks as long as they aren’t violating parameters set by these entities. As per Puerto Rican law, employers must obtain a candidate’s written consent before conducting a background search. 

As mentioned below, employers have certain limitations on conducting criminal background checks and credit checks in Puerto Rico. 

Things to Consider When Performing a Background Check in Puerto Rico

Employers can perform background checks on potential or current Puerto Rico employees. However, Puerto Rican law imposes a few restrictions and limitations on obtaining certain types of information. 

Here are the various aspects of an employment background check in Puerto Rico. 

Criminal record

  • Verifying a candidate’s criminal history before hiring is crucial to maintain safety. In some sectors like childcare or security, employers are exposed to legal risks if they haven’t conducted a background check. 
  • Employers can perform a criminal background check in Puerto Rico. However, it may be considered social-condition discrimination. 
  • Therefore, when employers require a candidate’s criminal history, they can do so while abiding by specific parameters. 

Credit report

  • A credit check reveals a candidate’s financial background. 
  • Therefore, credit checks are essential for the company’s finance or managerial positions. 
  • Apart from certain exceptions, employers cannot conduct credit checks in Puerto Rico as per Act 150- 2019. 

Employment history

  • Checking a candidate’s employment history helps understand their behavior in the workplace and working patterns. Employers can do so by contacting the reference provided from the previous workplace. 
  • Verifying their work experience during a background check also ensures that the candidate possesses the required expertise for the job. 
  • Employers can understand whether the applicant can fit well with the team after analyzing their previous work experiences. By connecting with former employees, they can also assess applicants’ readiness to perform the job responsibilities. 

Education history

  • Academic qualifications are relevant to almost all job profiles. They indicate whether the applicants have acquired the required knowledge to handle the job position. 
  • Companies can check whether potential candidates have submitted the right certifications and qualifications in their resumes. 
  • Employers can also contact the institutions where the candidate obtained an education. It ensures that applicants have submitted accurate information and are qualified for the role. 

Social life

  • By analyzing their social behavior, recruiters can gauge whether a prospect fits in well with their company.
  • As part of an HR background check, employers access the candidate’s publicly accessible information on social media networks.
  • It aids in understanding a candidate’s behavioral traits, political opinions, etc.

Information Essential for a Background Check in Puerto Rico

Here are some things employers must know before conducting a background check in Puerto Rico. 

  • Before conducting an employment background check, employers must obtain a candidate’s written consent. Moreover, if they do not hire that candidate based on the results of the background verification, they have to send a copy of the background check to the applicant.
  • Puerto Rican law prohibits discrimination based on prior convictions. However, employers can decide against hiring a candidate after carefully considering the factors stated by the Puerto Rican Supreme Court. 
    1. Nature and magnitude of the criminal conviction
    2. Relationship between the crime and the position for which the candidate is applying 
    3. The degree of rehabilitation of the application and other information that the applicant and a third party can provide about the conviction 
    4. Candidate’s age and circumstances of the committed crime
    5. The time lapsed between the crime and the application for the job 
    6. The employer’s legitimate interest is to protect their property, security, and well-being, as well as that of third parties and the public in general. 
  • Employers are prohibited from conducting credit checks on their employees. However, there are certain exceptions, as for some positions, these background checks are necessary. Employers can check credit reports for these positions:
    1. Management position
    2. Position in the Department of Justice
    3. Position as public order agent of the State or municipality
    4. Position of the Judicial Branch
    5. Role regulated by the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions or agreement with any federal agency, by some provision of law, regulation, and activities.
    6. A position that implies access to trade secrets as defined in Law 80-2011. 
  • The Puerto Rican Law No. 59 of 8 August 1997 permits employers to conduct testing for controlled substances on their current and potential employees to promote health and well-being. 
  • Acquiring a candidate’s genetic, medical, or disability-related information is prohibited, barring certain exceptions. 
  • Also, according to Puerto Rico’s Equal Pay Act, employers cannot ask applicants about their current or past compensation rates. The exceptions to this rule are:
    1. If a job applicant voluntarily discloses it, or
    2. if it negotiates a compensation rate to make an offer of employment to the applicant.

Process Involved in Background Checks in Puerto Rico

There are no standard guidelines for conducting a company background check in Puerto Rico. However, employers can follow the template below. 

Step 1: Obtaining consent from the candidate

  • Employers must ask for the candidate’s written consent before accessing their publicly unavailable information for employment background checks. 
  • Even if companies outsource the task to third-party firms, they must get consent. 

Step 2: Gather data

  • Employers must collect all the necessary documents for employee screening in Puerto Rico. 
  • Some documents usually required for background checks are academic qualifications, certifications, and documents from the past workplace. 

Step 3: Pre-employment background check

  • Verifying academic qualifications: Companies can verify the documents for certifications and academic qualifications submitted by candidates. They can also contact the institutions where the candidate has studied. 
  • Verifying work experience: Employers can review all the references given on the applicant’s resume for past work experience. They can verify whether all the experiences are genuine or not. 
  • Verifying publicly accessible data on social media: As part of an HR background check, employers can check a candidate’s social media profile. 
  • Verifying other relevant details: Companies can verify criminal records while considering the factors given by the Puerto Rican Supreme Court. Employers can also conduct credit checks wherever permissible by law. 

Industries and Situations Most Suitable for Background Checks in Puerto Rico

In some industries, employers need background checks to avoid financial and legal liabilities. For example, criminal background checks are essential in childcare, education, security, or transportation sectors. 

Credit checks are prohibited in Puerto Rico. However, employers can conduct credit checks for specific posts, like managerial positions, positions that require access to other people’s personal and financial records, profiles with access to trade secrets, etc. 

Employers from other industries are highly encouraged to verify educational qualifications and work experience to hire skilled and talented professionals. 

How Multiplier Helps With Background Checks

Employers are required to follow local laws and regulations when hiring talent globally. Using ethical hiring practices helps to avoid problems with team management and onboarding.

There are certain parameters for employers to follow while conducting an employment background check in Puerto Rico. 

Understanding regional rules and regulations might require a lot of time and effort. Furthermore, financial and legal obligations could emerge from misreading the specifics. Thus, employers can partner with third-party firms like Multiplier to prevent these incidents.

Multiplier is a PEO-EOR firm that offers a skilled and professional team that can draft legal documents, manage payroll, and distribute employee benefits per local rules. Multiplier provides innovative and practical solutions to comply with the local laws and regulations in more than 150 countries. 

Multiplier offers solutions to avoid legal liabilities while hiring and managing employees in Puerto Rico.

Frequently Asked Questions

Discrimination based on sex, age, race, color, marriage, political affiliation, political or religious ideas, national origin, social origin, social condition, disability, pregnancy, genetic information, being or being perceived as a victim of domestic violence, stalking or sexual aggression, sexual orientation or gender identity, veteran status, or other categories protected by law is prohibited while hiring in Puerto Rico. 

Credit checks are prohibited by Puerto Rican law, except for some positions. And not hiring a candidate based on their criminal record can be considered social-condition discrimination. Apart from these two aspects, employers can verify academic qualifications, work history, and social information while conducting employee background screening in Puerto Rico.

A background check in Puerto Rico can take up to a month, depending on how extensive the verification process is.

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