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Background Check In Switzerland

Switzerland is a well-known haven for investors and a prominent financial center. Global companies and entrepreneurs find it easier to conduct business here, and the country’s third position in World Bank’s Global Competitiveness Report 2020 validates it.

But entering into new business relationships anywhere, including hiring new employees, comes with potential risks. Fortunately, background checks can minimize such risks. 

Exercising background checks in Switzerland will help you decide to partner with suitable suppliers, vendors, or freelancers. Employment background screening in Switzerland often complements the recruiting process and prevents companies from possible damage.

However, companies must exercise caution while performing background checks or contracting it to a third party as it involves gathering, storing, and processing personal data. 

Continue reading this post to understand the local rules and regulations concerning background checks in Switzerland.

What is Employment Background Verification?

Employment background verification involves the process of screening prospects or existing employees concerning their professional information. Some situations may involve verifying employees’ personal data. Such details are usually obtained from criminal records, financial history, medical records, academic certificates, work experience, or even social media.   

Employers and companies often conduct background checks to hire trustworthy and talented individuals or weed out unsuitable employees. 

Background checks are usually performed on employees, independent contractors, suppliers, vendors, or sometimes clients for a long-term commitment. 

Typically, the methodology followed in the background screening process is preliminary discussion and seeking consent from the prospects, information gathering, analysis, and verification from private or public databases.  

Benefits of Background Checks in Switzerland

Background check is a potent tool to “know your employee, suppliers, vendors or clients” well before entering a business relationship. 

We have summarized the potential benefits of conducting a background check in Switzerland. 

Improving the standard of job applications

  • Most job applications are found to have data discrepancies related to work experience and academic qualifications. 
  • A job posting with a mandatory employee background check will most likely invite only genuine applicants, thus improving the quality of the job applications. 

Optimum use of time and resources

  • Hiring is a time and resource-draining process, and employers look for ways to minimize it. 
  • A pre-employment background check in Switzerland can verify claims made during the interview process. 
  • These checks would ensure employers find the suitable candidates with genuine qualifications and experience. 

Practicing responsible hiring processes

  • Criminal background checks, in most situations, ensure workplace safety and minimize employee turnover. 
  • Hiring the right candidate enables employers to concentrate on strengthening their team rather than filling the same vacancies repeatedly. 

Avoid risk liabilities

  • Company background checks in Switzerland ensure financial or legal liabilities are minimized when they enter into new partnerships with suppliers, vendors, or a client. 

Are Background Checks Legal in Switzerland?

Yes, employers can conduct pre-employment background checks in Switzerland on prospects. 

Employers must collect and process employee data in proportion to the interviewed job role. For instance, employers are allowed to conduct criminal background checks in Switzerland for positions of high trustworthiness, which is restricted otherwise. 

Switzerland’s background check law does not allow the screening of existing employees since employers must assume that an employee will no longer give their consent voluntarily to the background check. However, conducting employee background screening in Switzerland is allowed on a case basis. 

For example, Switzerland’s biggest bank UBS continues to run criminal background checks and credit ratings on over 15% of the workforce who have access to sensitive information in the wake of numerous scandals.

Employers may develop an in-house team of HR experts or outsource the screening process to a third-party domiciled inside or outside Switzerland and stay compliant with the local rules and regulations. 

Things to Know When Conducting a Background Check in Switzerland

The following section reviews employer actions restricted while conducting a pre-employment background check in Switzerland. 

Criminal record

  • Employers may request employees to submit a criminal record certificate, ensuring no criminal past. 
  • The Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) has two different criminal records excerpts
  • the classic excerpt lists all convictions relating to offenses committed as an adult
  • the particular excerpt when work involves regular contact with minors or other persons requiring special protection

Credit report

  • Employers can only ask for candidates’ credit reports for background screening in Switzerland in limited cases.  
  • Employers may request an extract from the debt enforcement register to learn about any open debt enforcement proceedings against candidates in the past five years.

Employment history

  • Employers may verify candidates’ past work experience, professional licenses & certificates for employment background checks in Switzerland. 
  • However, employers are restricted from contacting current or past references on the CV or resume without the explicit consent of the candidates.  

Education history

  • Employers may conduct a background check on education/training certificates mentioned in the CV or resume. 
  • Companies may seek physical verification of academic certificates or contact the school or university to confirm the same. 

Social life

  • HR background checks in Switzerland give valuable insights into employees’ social life. 
  • Employers may use public information on social media platforms to understand social behavior.
  • However, employers must refrain from befriending prospects or their employees with a fake profile or via a fictitious contact or friend request on social media for background screening in Switzerland. 

Information Essential for a Background Check in Switzerland

Here is a general list of employee information that employers or contracted third-party service providers may need for background searches in Switzerland:

  • First and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Last known address
  • School name, school’s city
  • Academic majors, transcripts, degree copy, and release form
  • Professional licenses, certificates
  • Professional references (cannot mandate current employer details)
  • Criminal record certificate, credit rating score, and medical records, all limited to specific job roles

Switzerland’s background check law allows employers to seek additional data concerning the nature of employment and interviewed job roles. Further, employers must ensure the following checks before conducting a background check in Switzerland. 

  • Inform the candidate about data gathering and monitoring activity for background checks.
  • Disclose reasons in writing for limitations on access to collected data. 
  • Monitoring of IT systems for noting employees’ behavior is not permitted. 

Process Involved in Background Checks in Switzerland

Typically the process for background checks in Switzerland can be outlined as follows: 

Step 1: Preliminary discussion and seeking consent

  • The employers must notify the candidate about background checks and seek employee consent for storing and processing the collected data. 
  • Soon after, employers may verify candidates’ work experience, academic credentials, and social media information.

Step 2: Information gathering

  • Employers need to gather the required information to verify. Usually, the following details suffice: 
    1. Employment history
    2. Professional references 
    3. Educational qualifications
    4. Professional certificates
    5. Criminal records
    6. Credit records
    7. Medical records
    8. A public profile on social media
  • If employers deal with suppliers or vendors, collect information from the commercial registers and check their presence in public media.

Step 3: Analysis and verification

  • Employers may now use the available documents to begin employment screening. 
    1. Analyze appearances and behavioral traits on social media
    2. Inquiries in compliance databases (FOJ criminal excerpts)
    3. Consult additional public sources (for credit rating, social media platforms)
  • Red flag any information if application credentials are inconsistent or evidence indicating moonlighting, such as social security contributions, come from more than one employer simultaneously. 

Industries and Situations Most Suitable for Background Checks in Switzerland

Switzerland’s background check law allows employers to request a special criminal excerpt that lists specific convictions that currently place a particular prospect under a ban on working in professions involving close contact with minors or other adult vulnerable persons. Such professions could be healthcare or childcare specialists, educators, instructors, security agents, etc.  

Employers recruiting candidates to work in the food processing industry, construction or manufacturing, etc., may ask for regular medical and health checks. 

Employers across industries can generally perform a background check on the employee’s qualifications, work experience, and vendor or supplier’s worthiness to minimize risk liabilities. 

How Multiplier Helps With Background Checks

Extensive background checks are a restrictive practice in Switzerland. Global companies and entrepreneurs hiring and managing local talent or partnering with other businesses must adhere to local rules and regulations. 

Global companies and entrepreneurs can partner with cloud-based solutions, like Multiplier, to avoid misinterpreting Switzerland’s background check law and compliance requirements.   

Multiplier does not directly help with screening and background checks. However, we have trusted partners doing the job for us in multiple locations globally. A PEOEOR firm like Multiplier can also draft legally compliant contracts and manage business payrolls. We offer recommended guidelines for compliant expansion, hiring, and managing employees in over 150+ countries, including Switzerland.

Frequently Asked Questions

Switzerland is not a part of the EU, so General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) do not apply directly. However, the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioners (FDPIC) in Switzerland regulates and supervises any activity involving personal data protection, including background checks. 

No, the laws allow only private individuals to request an extract from the Federal Office of Justice, Switzerland. However, they can nominate someone to obtain the extract or send it directly to a third party, such as an employer. 

Depending on how detailed the background check is, it can require up to 15-21 business days to complete the company or employment screening process in Switzerland.

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