Background Checks / Employee Screening In Nigeria

Nigeria is the second-fastest growing economy in Africa, making it a potential market for international business expansion. 

If you plan to grow your business operations in Nigeria, you need to recruit employees. Hiring employees in a foreign nation involves multiple steps. Performing employee background checks is one of those crucial steps applicable when hiring local staff and remote employees. 

This article will zoom in on the details of performing a pre-employment background check in Nigeria. 

What is Employment Background Check Verification? 

Employee screening is the verification of all applicant’s details as mentioned on their resume. It ensures you do not hire unqualified members or employees with criminal backgrounds in your organization. Employee screening is a proven method of evaluating whether you can trust an employee with a particular role. 

A detailed background check includes verification of the following data:

  • Personal information
  • Academic qualifications
  • Professional experiences
  • Reference checks
  • Criminal records 
  • Financial records /credit score
  • Work permit and visa verification 
  • Driver’s license
  • Social media (only if required)

Benefits of Background Checks in Nigeria

Companies go to great lengths to secure their reputation but often miss out on the crucial phase of employee background checks while recruiting. 

Performing a background check in Nigeria eliminates risky hires that can cause monetary and reputation loss. Some candidates tend to lie on their resumes to land a job. But a thorough background check helps you verify their credentials to assess if they are reliable and fit for your company.

The benefits of conducting an employee background check in Nigeria include: 

  • Checking criminal records identifies if a candidate has committed any criminal offense or has violent tendencies. 
  • It helps you avoid legal liabilities in the future, thus building a safer workplace for all other employees.
  • Saves time and money spent on the hiring process for the wrong candidates.
  • Improves your company’s hiring quality to foster a conducive and productive working environment.
  • Secures your company from potential occupational scams.

Are Background Checks Legal in Nigeria?

When hiring in Nigeria, you must review its labor law before conducting an employee screening in Nigeria to ensure legal compliance. Nigerian laws do not put any restrictions regarding background checks on applicants. But, the Nigerian Constitution guarantees a right to privacy for all citizens. 

Here’s what you must consider for background checks: 

  • The right to privacy protects the citizens, their homes, telephone conversations, and telegraphic communications. It also covers:
    1. Confidential correspondence
    2. Medical history
    3. Sexual orientation  
    4. Email and internet use 
  • The Nigerian law protects people living with HIV or AIDS. Mandatory testing of employees for HIV is discriminatory. 
  • The government does not set any restrictions on drug and alcohol testing of applicants. However, if the company contract includes it, the applicant must abide by them.  

Things to Know When Performing a Background Check in Nigeria

Background checks in Nigeria are necessary to select the right candidate to maintain your company’s work culture and avoid legal hassles. It is common for businesses to fall prey to deceptive employees. Hence, the HR department must curtail such risks by thoroughly assessing all potential candidates. 

An HR background check in Nigeria covers the following aspects:

Personal information

You should begin the employee background check in Nigeria by examining a candidate’s identity, residential address, and contact details. You must also check their government-issued IDs that include the date of birth as age proof. 

Academic records

This involves cross verifying a candidate’s academic qualifications to see if the information on their resume is correct. You can contact the educational institutes mentioned in a candidate’s resume to confirm the course, scores, and graduation year.  

Professional history

This check is essential to confirm if the candidate has any work experience. The HR department of the previous companies can help you with checking these details. Verify the joining dates, reason for leaving, salary, and job title to see if there are any inconsistencies. 

Reference checks

Having additional references or recommendations for the candidate eases the employee screening process. If the employee provides these numbers or letters, examine them for authenticity. If you are hiring for a particular position, contacting these people can help you understand the candidate’s work ethic and overall character. 

Criminal record

A Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) from the Nigeria police checks whether the applicant has any criminal record. It is necessary to ensure that your hire is a person of good character with no criminal history.

Work permit and visa verification

This is a vital aspect of employee screening in Nigeria if you recruit foreign employees. Confirm the applicant’s nationality with their passport and whether they have the necessary permits to work. It is essential to comply with immigration and work permit regulations. 

Financial records or credit history: A person’s credit score or financial records can show any red flags concerning poor payment or huge debts. It is crucial if you’re hiring someone to join the company’s finance department. 

Driver’s license check: Employers must also check their candidate’s driving license to see if there are any motor vehicle violations.  

History of drug abuse: Although many companies do not make the drug/alcohol test mandatory for candidates, it is better to be on the safe side. Conducting periodical drug tests helps keep your workplace and employees safe. 

Information Essential for a Background Check in Nigeria 

The labor cost in Nigeria is comparatively cheaper than in other countries, which is advantageous for employers. An employee background check in Nigeria can help companies make the right hiring decisions. It is easier to access data when you know what to cross-verify. 

Companies must also take note of the local laws to avoid any infringement on an individual’s right to privacy. You can contact the educational institutions and previous companies for information. However, you cannot mandate specific medical tests considered discriminatory by law. 

Here’s a general list of documents you can ask from your potential employees:

  • Full name as stated on official documents
  • Proof of permanent or temporary residential addresses
  • Date of birth
  • Government-issued IDs or passport
  • Valid work visa and work permit 
  • Educational qualification records and leaving certificates 
  • Work experience and letters of recommendation 
  • Additional references or guarantors form 
  • Police Clearance Certificate
  • Financial documents such as debts, credit score, or outstanding payments (if any) 
  • Driver’s license 

Process Involved in Background Checks in Nigeria 

Performing a background check in Nigeria is a common practice in all corporates. While there are no strict laws concerning employee screening in Nigeria, it is better to conduct an extensive screening process to be 100% sure of your potential employees’ reliability and professional competency. 

Here’s how to effectively perform a background check in Nigeria: 

Inform the candidate

There is no stipulation of the consent mentioned in the Nigerian Employment Law about background checks. However, it is best to inform the employee to avoid legal issues. 

Maintain consistency

You should create an organized process for a pre-employment background check for all employees, irrespective of their seniority or qualifications. 

Gather essential information

It is easier to gather and cross-verify data when you know what to look for. Prepare a list of documents needed for specific sectors or job roles. For example, a driver’s license may not apply to all departments or industries. Once you know the requirements, check with the educational institutions for degree certificates. Contact the HR departments of previous companies to confirm the work experience, tenure, and salary structure. 

Convey feedback

Communicate your reports with the candidates. If you find any inconsistencies in the documents, let them know before making any conclusions. 

Industries and Situations That are Most Suitable for Background Checks in Nigeria 

All companies should include the process of background checks in Nigeria. But it is crucial for in following sectors: 

  • Petroleum industry: Oil and gas refineries are the top sectors driving the country’s economy. A need for reliable employees in this sector is essential for international trade and commerce. 
  • Banking: Major financial institutions are responsible for handling the assets of the public or corporations. A bad hire can cause significant financial losses and damage the company’s reputation. 
  • Healthcare: One of the fastest-growing industries in the country, it demands qualified and trustworthy healthcare professionals. Thus, a background check becomes a must for healthcare institutions to guarantee the safety of the masses. 
  • Information and communication technology: The telecommunications industry involves a lot of sensitive data exchange. It is necessary to have someone who can be trusted with company and customer data. 

How Multiplier Helps With Background Checks?

The process of hiring employees in a foreign country is tedious and time-consuming. And employee screening is an additional step you must perform with due diligence to maintain your team’s quality and decrease employee turnover. Since it can get overwhelming for you to perform these tasks independently, we’d recommend partnering with a third party to get it done quickly. Multiplier can facilitate this process by recommending you best regional background screening service providers.

Multiplier experts can make things seamless for your firm. We can help you with compliant international employment and mitigate potential risks associated with hiring and onboarding employees overseas. In addition, we can help onboard your employees and freelancers while maintaining their payroll.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Pre-employment medical checks are a requirement in several Nigerian companies, to ascertain the health and fitness of the candidate. Some of the types of medical tests include – Kidney function tests, cardiovascular tests, tuberculosis tests, and Hepatitis screening.

A background check in Nigeria is not a legal requirement. So there are no lawful restrictions against background checks in Nigeria. But all citizens are protected by the right to privacy as per section 37 of the Nigerian Constitution. 

Applicants have to submit a form, which is then forwarded to the Criminal registry office. It can take between five to ten days for the complete process. 

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