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Comprehensive Guide to Conducting Employee Background Checks in the UAE

People form the backbone of any business enterprise and are the biggest contributors to its success. Having the right team of people that fit the role and the organization’s culture is more likely to succeed than when there is discord amongst team members. 

Moreover, with the increasing importance of data privacy and security, it becomes imperative to find reliable employees. It has been noticed that companies have firmed up their employee background verification (BGV) process, and the same can be witnessed in the UAE as well. 

In fact, background checks in the UAE are mentioned in one of the guidelines of the UAE Labour Law that makes the employer responsible for any negligence in regards to this process. Owing to the large number of expats working in UAE’s private sector the process is a bit complex. . Since they come from different countries and may have worked in different geographies, the importance of employee screening in the UAE is more prominent.

What Is Employment Background Verification?

Employment Background Verification is used to screen and vet candidates to check the authenticity of their credentials and understand their fitment to the role and culture of the company. Employers have started putting a lot of value on this aspect before rolling out the offer letters. The globalization  and mobility of the workforce have added to the process’s value. 

The process of background check in the UAE is made easy due to the digitization of personal and professional records in the country. This ensures that a vast amount of information is available for the employer to sift through and be convinced. Many employers seek the services of professional BGV consultancies to ensure a thorough check is conducted.

Benefits Of Background Checks In The UAE

There are numerous benefits of running a proper background check before hiring new employees. Here are some of the most pertinent ones:

  • By carefully assessing the employee’s history, you canto weed out suspicious or dubious from your screening process carefully. This is important to ensure the safety and security of your business and your employees. It also safeguards your customers and the information they place in your hands as part of the business you engage in.  This minimizes the financial and people risk associated with new employees.
  • By having a team of carefully selected and reliable members, you can protect the image and reputation of your business. It is not uncommon to come across in the news how a single employee with malicious content can tarnish the entire name of the brand and everyone involved by association. Moreover, it can also lead to fines and penalties, which is why employee screening in the UAE needs to be meticulous.  
  • Most business owners and HR managers concur that recruitment is tedious and time-consuming. Apart from time, it also consumes effort, resources, and investment. Conducting background checks for new hires is an efficient way to protect the resources and money you may have invested in the hiring process and the onboarding and training of the fresh employees. This also helps you get a sense of the mindset of the people you are hiring and whether they will be able to gel with the vision and culture of your organization. The importance of this activity is best realized while hiring people in senior positions.
  • Another waste that can be avoided by having a robust BGV process (or using third-party specialists) is the loss of focus and attention to your core business. The hiring process is known to take a while, taking away the time of stakeholders that would rather be spent on running daily operations and making important strategic decisions. 
  • The importance of employee background screening in the UAE is further emphasized as the laws hold the employer responsible for any criminal wrongdoing by the employee if acting directly, on behalf of the company, or under the guise of official business. Therefore, by rigorously screening your employees before bringing them on board , you can save yourself and your business from possible legal, financial, and regulatory actions by the authorities. 

From a legal perspective, the law in the UAE does not mandate the need of a background check before new hiring. Statistics show that around 20% of employers do not engage in this process, which is a risky proposition. The remaining 80% understand the value of BGV in making the right hiring decisions for long-term benefits. This can be done by your own organization or by employing a third-party agency. The labor law does not hinder an employment background check in the UAE. However, there is an ethical and civil limit to what can be verified. 

While we will go into greater details in the upcoming sections regarding the typical inclusions in company background checks in the UAE, certain aspects that lie in the grey area and are not encouraged. For example, while an employer is well within their  right to administer a pre-joining medical test, they cannot  formally gain access to a candidate’s mental and physical medical history. Similarly, access to bank details, biometric credentials, and information about religious practices, sexual orientations, and political beliefs are also not permissible unless in case of specific exceptions for which prior approval needs to be sought.

Things To Know When Performing A Background Check In The UAE

Employee screening in the UAE, as in many other countries, consists of various levels of checks and verifications. The nature of these checks and the level of details is greatly dependent upon the preference of the employer, the nature of the business, and the role for which the hiring is taking place.  For example, an entry-level customer executive job may require far less scrutiny than a senior manager in the Information Security department. Here are the essential aspects you should consider while performing a pre-employment background check in the UAE. 

  • Employment history: Validation of quoted experience, the roles performed there, and the remuneration received. Also, feedback regarding behavioral patterns, productivity, appraisal history, target accomplishment record, and other sorts of feedback, as much as the previous employers are willing to share.
  • Education history: Confirmation of the institutes that the candidate claims to have attended, the marks obtained, and any other achievements cited. All these form essential hiring decisions, especially for specialized professional services like engineering, medical, legal, accounting, and other such industries. 
  • Criminal record: This is another one of those gray areas wherein probing too much may not be feasible. Yet it is essential to know if any civil or criminal cases are being pursued against the employee. These could range from property disputes to drunk driving to something more serious. This aspect of BGV is extremely relevant in sectors that deal with finances, sensitive information, and national security, among others.
  • Credit report: While procuring a detailed financial history of the hiring candidate may not be appropriate or even permitted, a quick check of their credit report can still give you sufficient insights regarding the integrity, financial condition, and borrowing/repayment history of the person.
  • Social life: With so much free online data, it is difficult to ignore the applicant’s social media status. This also opens a window into the kind of hobbies and interests they keep. Sometimes, you can know the most about a person in an informal environment. These minute and seemingly insignificant aspects can help decide the right fitment for your company. 

Information Essential For A Background Check In The UAE

Most employers secure information through the course of the job application process by using forms of personal, professional, and educational information. This essential information includes:

  • Candidate’s full name (including middle name, if any)
  • Date of Birth
  • Present address, permanent address, and previous address, as applicable
  • Employment history, mainly covering the latest three roles
  • Photo identity proof

Process Involved In Background Checks In The UAE

Once you have sufficient information, you can either engage in the screening process yourself or have dedicated experts manage it on your behalf. In either case, the underlying activities for employee background screening in the UAE are rather similar. 

These involve:

  • Institution-Based Checks
  • Call Based Discovery
  • Deep Dive Into Records

Industries And Situations That Are Most Suitable For Background Checks In The UAE

For reasons stated earlier, all employers in almost any industry can significantly benefit by conducting a BGV for their potential new hires. However, an employee screening in the UAE is hugely relevant for industries and roles that deal with sensitive data/information, people, and/or processes. These may include (but are definitely not limited to):

  • Physical or Virtual Security
  • Financial Services
  • Healthcare
  • Legal and Corporate Affairs
  • Manufacturing, Transportation & Construction
  • Energy & Utilities
  • Government & Education

How Multiplier Helps With Background Checks

Finding the right mix of employees is essential for any business to run harmoniously. To achieve this, you devote ample time and effort to the screening and recruitment process. However, this is bound to take focus away from your core business. The situation becomes more complex while hiring resources from unfamiliar countries. Then there are also the aspects of local laws and contractual obligations. 

Several companies have successfully sidestepped  these challenges by engaging experienced third-party companies to act as an Employer of Record (EOR). This move significantly reduces the stress and burden on your team and dramatically enhances your hire to the onboarding process. 

When you partner with an EOR like Multiplier, you can be assured of world-class services with utmost attention to local requirements and obligations. Not only can Multiplier ensure that you get the right talent for every role, but it can also take care of payroll services, benefits, taxes, and local compliance for all your employees in different locations.

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