Sweden is a competitive mixed economy consisting of privately-owned and market-oriented organizations. It has proven potential and a pool of talented and skilled workforce. As per IMD world competitiveness ranking 2022, Sweden ranks 4th out of 63 economies.
Global companies may follow responsible practices while hiring international talent to minimize financial risks and legal liabilities. Responsible hiring practices may also include pre-employment background checks. The background search helps find a committed candidate for the job.
Employers can legally conduct a background check in Sweden, complying with the local rules and regulations during the hiring process. In this guide, we will give you a detailed account of Swedish background check law and how to go about an HR background check in Sweden & a criminal background check in Sweden.
What is Employment Background Verification?
An employment background screening refers to viewing and verifying a potential employee’s records like employment history, financial data, commercial documents, and criminal records.
A background check is a common practice for employers looking to hire trustworthy employees that are a right fit for their company. These checks ensure a cohesive and accountable workforce is maintained even with new hires. This will, in turn, protect the company’s assets and provide security from any liability issues. You can also improve the quality of the recruitment process and create a secure work environment for your employees.
Companies can legally conduct background checks in Sweden to hire the best possible employee. In certain industries like teaching and banking, conducting a pre-employment assessment is mandatory. The most recommended way to perform an employee screening in Sweden is through third-party entities. Most reputed third-party solution providers comply with the Swedish background check laws.
Benefits of Background Checks in Sweden
Conducting a background verification offers several advantages to employers. An employee screening ensures that people working in the company are not legal liabilities for the company or a threat to their fellow employees. Some other benefits of conducting an employee background screening in Sweden include:
Quality job applications
- Many companies notice a significant improvement in the quality of job applications after employment background checks.
- It reduces applications with misinformation and discrepancies.
Hire the right candidate
- Adding false information in job applications has become more frequent than ever. An HR background check ensures that the candidate has the necessary expertise and academic qualifications as disclosed during the hiring process.
- It is crucial while hiring for executive positions as hiring an unfitting employee leaves companies open to financial losses.
Maintaining a safe and productive workforce
- A company background check in Sweden promotes a safe working environment.
- Background checks maintain productivity in the workplace as one does not have to go through the process of hiring repeatedly.
- Employers can focus on creating a cohesive team rather than trying to fill in vacancies almost constantly.
Save time and resources
- Hiring a candidate is a time and resource-draining process, and going through it disrupts human resource balance in the company.
- Conducting a background check ensures that companies have made the right decision of hiring an authentic candidate and won’t have to make the same decision again soon.
Avoid negligent hiring processes
- Companies can be held liable for not keeping enough details about their employees before hiring.
- For example, employers in the childcare industry are vulnerable if they have not conducted a comprehensive criminal background check of the hired employees.
Employers can protect their companies from liabilities, lawsuits, and unwanted turnover by eliminating hiring risky candidates.
Are Background Checks Legal in Sweden?
Conducting a background check in Sweden on current and potential employees is legal. However, there are limitations on obtaining the applicant’s data, like criminal or financial records from the respective registers.
Sweden is among the 27 countries in the European Union (EU) and hence, complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Therefore, every employee background screening in Sweden must comply with the GDPR.
In Sweden, employers need to provide compelling grounds for a background check. An employee or a potential candidate is well within their rights to refuse a background check. However, an employer is free to dismiss the potential candidate from the hiring process.
The Swedish Authority for Privacy Protection (IMY) is an agency protecting people from violating their right to data privacy through data processing. The agencies work against unauthorized registration and ensure that the laws comply with the data privacy rules. Hence, it is always suggested to ask for the candidate’s consent before conducting a background check and ensuring the safety of the information obtained.
Employers and companies can also send their queries to IMY to ensure that they are compliant with the local laws and regulations.
Things to Know When Performing a Background Check in Sweden
The employment background check in Sweden is a thorough process wherein employers must review candidates’ records. However, while performing an employee screening, verify the following databases in no particular order:
- Employers can request a police clearance certificate in Sweden during a criminal background check.
- The police clearance certificate states that a person has never been involved in criminal activities in Sweden.
- Verifying criminal records is essential for some sectors like childcare, education, etc.
- Employers can run a company background check in Sweden to analyze an employee’s credit report.
- A credit check helps the employers understand the economic and financial condition of the employee.
- A financial background check is necessary for positions in accounting, high-level executives, if applicable, and so on.
- A brief examination of a candidate’s employment history during a pre-employment background check in Sweden ensures that employers have chosen the right candidate.
- It helps recruiters and employers know whether the candidate has furnished authentic employment records in resumes and interviews.
- Companies can analyze and examine their previous job title, skills, working patterns, and competency by looking at their previous performance.
- A background check can help verify whether a candidate has submitted accurate qualifications and certifications.
- Checking the education history helps employers understand whether candidates are qualified for the job.
- Employers can even verify the documents and mark sheets to check whether the specific qualifications are authentic.
- During an HR background check in Sweden, recruiters can access the potential candidate’s information on social media sites.
- It helps companies understand an individual’s likes and dislikes, opinions, etc.
Information Essential for a Background Check in Sweden
Sweden has always been proactive about data safety. The erstwhile Swedish Data Act of 1973 gave way to the latest GDPR by the EU. Since then, Sweden has adhered to the GDPR in matters of data privacy and data processing in situations like background checks.
As per the GDPR, an employer can request only the data relevant to the job profile. Generally, employers can ask potential employees to submit certain documents to check the details stated by them. The list includes:
- Official documents with full name and date of birth
- Documents supporting permanent and temporary address
- Relevant mark sheets and supporting certificates
- Previous employment documents including payslips, offer letter(s), and others
- Police clearance certificate
Moreover, employers cannot keep the data once the background check is completed.
Employers cannot request a genetic test under any circumstances to prohibit discrimination. However, an employer can request a medical examination, a drug test, or an alcohol test during employee background screening in Sweden. An individual can refuse to submit to these tests. However, due to non-compliance, employers can opt not to offer the position to the candidate.
Process Involved in Background Checks in Sweden
There is no specific procedure for employers to follow for a background check in Sweden. However, here are some best practices followed during the process.
Step 1: Collect details you need to verify
Employers can gather information after the potential or current employee acknowledges the privacy notice. Hereafter, determine the details you need to verify the candidate’s authenticity. Ask candidates to submit the documents like educational qualification certificates, LOR, and others. Some primary details include:
- Educational qualification
- Criminal records
- Employment history
- Credit details or financial details
- Social media activities
Step 2: Processing employee data
It is illegal to process personal data without mentioning the lawful grounds for the same. Private companies in Sweden can base their background checks on these lawful grounds – consent, contract, legal obligation, and weighing of interests.
- Consent: Here, the individual whose data is to be processed gives consent. However, this alone cannot be the basis for an employment background check in Sweden. Employers must also base a background check on the remaining three lawful grounds.
- Contract: Here, the individual whose data is to be processed has signed or is signing an agreement with the data processor.
- Weighing of interests: An individual’s data can be processed without their consent if the data processor’s interests outweigh any individual’s interest.
- Legal obligation: Here, the data processor is legally obligated to process an individual’s data for specific purposes.
Step 3: Perform a background check
After collecting all the documents and details, you must contact authorities/ institutions to run a background check. For instance, you can contact past employers to cross-check submitted salary slips and positions.
Step 4: Police verification certificate
Employers can request a police clearance certificate from the Swedish National Police Board that says the individual was not involved in any criminal activities.
Here is how employees can apply for a police clearance certificate:
- Apply by submitting a request through email.
- Attach all the documents and the application form.
- The received application is internally processed, and a police clearance certificate is issued.
Step 5: Maintain records for the future
The Swedish background check law mandates employers and employees to maintain a record of data processing.
Industries and Situations That are Most Suitable for Background Checks in Sweden
In some situations, a background check in Sweden is an essential part of the hiring process. An employer could be liable in the future if they haven’t had an extensive background check on all their employees in some sectors.
- Employers must conduct detailed background checks, including criminal records in the teaching, childcare, or driving industry.
- Financial background checks become essential for jobs in the accounting sector, such as a cashier. It is also required for high-level positions.
- These checks are also necessary for jobs where confidentiality is crucial, like lawyers.
- Employers can conduct background checks on temporary employees, independent contractors, volunteers, trainees, etc.
Background checks in Sweden maybe be a necessity in the above fields. However, it is highly encouraged that employers from all industries conduct employee screening for all current and potential workers.
How does Multiplier Help with Background Checks?
Setting up a new business in a foreign country can be a challenge with differences in culture and legislation. Multiplier can be your one-stop solution to all the challenges you face.
As a global PEO-EOR, Multiplier provides the most effective ways to comply with local rules and regulations. Employers looking to hire globally can partner with Multiplier to manage international employees and reduce risk.
Multiplier’s team of experts can draft legally compliant contracts, manage payroll, and handle benefits according to the local rules and regulations of more than 150+ countries.