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South Africa

Conducting Background Checks in South Africa

South Africa is strategically located at the southernmost tip of the African continent, offering a diverse customer base of over 60 million consumers. The country has a rich cultural heritage influenced by African, European, and Asian traditions.

South Africa is an ideal destination for businesses. As per the World Bank’s report on Ease of Doing Business 2020, South Africa ranks 84th out of 190 economies in establishing a company. Businesses globally consider it a lucrative destination to establish a business and hire skillful employees. 

However, while hiring in South Africa, one of the most crucial procedures is employment background checks in South Africa. It helps businesses to establish a compliant and safe workforce which contributes directly to the company’s growth. 

Refer to this article to understand more about pre-employment background checks in South Africa. 

What Is Employment Background Verification?

An employment background verification is a process wherein organizations and employers thoroughly check the backgrounds of every employee they hire. 

A pre-employment background check is conducted mostly on potential candidates to verify the accuracy of the information they provide during the hiring process. These checks typically verify the candidate’s educational history, previous employment, identity, resume information, criminal history, and address. 

Benefits of Background Checks in South Africa

A pre-employment background check in South Africa is a crucial procedure for companies to ensure the safety of their employees. This procedure helps them by providing information about potential employees’ past and present behavior. 

Here are some added benefits of conducting a pre-employment background check in South Africa: 

Improves job application quality

Upholding high-quality hiring practices is crucial for a productive and safe work environment. Including background checks in the application process enhances the standard of applicants and discourages those with something to conceal. 

It filters out unqualified candidates, saving time and resources for your company. Implementing these measures maintains the integrity of your hiring practices and secures a competent workforce.

Building a safe work environment

Maintaining safety and compliance is an employer’s duty in business operations. Employers have legal, professional, and financial obligations to know all information about job applicants before hiring them, positive or negative. 

Neglecting this responsibility endangers the existing workforce’s security and risks legal and financial repercussions for the employer. Therefore, employers must take full responsibility for hiring only suitable candidates and not compromising their current employees’ security.

Reduces hiring costs

Conducting an employee background screening in South Africa allows employers to hire suitable candidates. This reduces employee turnover rate and hiring costs. 

Employers can ensure they take necessary precautions to minimize potential risks by respecting the job applicants’ rights. Conducting background checks before hiring a candidate protects companies from potential penalties, unwarranted charges, and lawsuits.

Conducting a company background check in South Africa is a legal and mandatory process. Employers must ensure they ask for a candidate’s consent before conducting a back. Moreover, the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) governs the HE background checks in South Africa. It ensures that the employers collect the details related to the job application. 

The EEA is a crucial law in South Africa related to background checks. It establishes fair and unbiased treatment in employment and prohibits discrimination based on various factors, such as race, gender, age, and more. Employers must comply with these regulations when conducting background checks and hiring decisions, ensuring that they adhere to the law.

Things to Know When Performing a Background Check in South Africa

There are several things you need to know before performing a background check in South Africa. These include: 

Employment history check

You may contact a candidate’s previous employers to verify certain information about the candidate, including their job title, dates of employment, and eligibility for rehire. 

All potential employers must note that they may contact a candidate’s previous employers only with explicit consent from them. 

Education history checks

Potential employers may contact educational institutions to verify information such as the candidate’s graduation date, dates of attending the institution, and degree. 

Criminal record check

According to South African law, employers must do a criminal record check for all their employees. It can be checked using the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). 

This system electronically compares the fingerprints of the potential employee against the database maintained by the South African Police Services (SAPS). 

It is a necessary step for employers to ensure that they are making prudent hiring decisions and maintaining the safety of their workplace.

SAFPS check

The process of criminal background checks in South Africa also involves matching the information of an employee with the South African Fraud Prevention Services. The South African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS) has a database to check whether a person has been involved in any fraudulent activity. 

Credit report check

Employers may conduct credit report checks as part of the employee background screening in South Africa. For this, employers need a copy of the candidate’s credit report from a registered credit bureau. This information is essential to review and assess the candidate’s financial history and overall creditworthiness. 

A credit report check is also important to gain insight into the candidate’s financial stability. It helps employers identify any history of financial fraud or bankruptcy. However, employers must get formal consent from the candidate before conducting a credit report check. They must also comply with the regulations set forth by the National Credit Act (NCA) when obtaining and using this information.

Social media check

Employers can perform social media risk assessments as part of their employment screening process in South Africa. However, this practice should be conducted with utmost care. Employers must comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) when conducting social media risk assessments. 

The POPIA dictates that employers get consent for conducting this assessment from job applicants before accessing their social media profiles. Employers must also ensure that the information obtained from social media profiles is relevant to the job and does not infringe upon the job applicants’ right to privacy.

Information Essential for a Background Check in South Africa

Here is some essential information that may be required for an employment background check in South Africa:

  • Full name of the candidate
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Identity number 
  • Address history
  • Educational history
  • Employment history 
  • Credit history

While asking for these details, companies should ensure that they inform the candidates of the purpose of collecting the data and ask for their consent. When collaborating with third parties, companies should inform candidates that their data will be shared with third-party firms. 

Process Involved in Background Checks in South Africa

There are no mandatory steps prescribed by the authority to conduct a pre-employment background check in South Africa. Companies can follow the following steps to conduct a pre-employment background check in South Africa:

  1. Formulate a background check policy with all the elements that you will be checking in any candidate.
  2. Prepare a consent form that you will present to each candidate before conducting a background check. Make sure the candidate reads and understands the policy before signing it. 
  3. Make a checklist of all the details you need for the candidate’s background check. 
  4. Collect all the necessary documents required to effectively check the candidate’s background. For example, their educational qualifications, reference numbers, identification number or passport number, and bank account details, among others.
  5. Lastly, verify the background check and hire suitable candidates. 

Industries and Situations That are Most Suitable for Background Checks in South Africa

In South Africa, background checks are valuable in various industries and scenarios. Below are some examples of situations where they can be helpful:

  • Financial sector
  • Healthcare sector 
  • Education sector
  • Childcare and elderly care 
  • Government and public sector
  • Institutions that handle sensitive information 

How Multiplier Helps With Background Checks

Multiplier offers a global payroll management service to establish a compliant business in more than 150+ countries. We have a team of third-party firms that helps in a legal background check. You can use our PEO-EOR platform to simplify employee onboarding and payroll management.

Frequently Asked Questions

The South African Police Service’s AFIS database verifies if the candidate has a criminal background history that might affect the company.

In South Africa, you need to provide written consent from the individual and submit your request for a background check. The majority of background checks are completed instantly, while some may take up to 48 hours to get the results.

Generally, a potential employer can verify up to three to seven years of professional history.

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