India pre-employment background checks

In 1989, Jack Welch, then Chief Executive of General Electric (GE) wanted India to place an order for GE aircraft engines and met with Sam Pitroda, a technology adviser to the Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. Pitroda agreed to the purchase as long as GE “outsourced $10 million of IT software work to India.”, an unusual request at the time. The deal was done and since then the US outsourcing of technology and services work to India has flourished.

No other offshoring destination has come close to India, with its huge supply of professional technical graduates with English language skills. According to an Economist article, in 2008, India claimed 65% of all offshored IT work and 43% of offshored business process work.

For Fortune 500 companies, India represents a similar risk profile to US hires, based on the amount of skilled and high customer touch point work being carried out. In other words, if you’re hiring in India and wondering if you should implement pre-employment background checks, the answer is almost certainly, yes.

Building the case

While India has a large supply of graduate-educated English speaking workers, it also suffers from C.V. fraud and candidates misrepresenting themselves:

In one case, according to an article on inquirer.net, a New Delhi IT company was confused when 30 job seekers claimed to have all worked for the same unknown IT employer on their applications. A subsequent investigation found the IT company to be a one-room mobile repair shop where the previous “employer” was in fact pretending to be an HR Manager and it turned out to be a fake IT firm.

Unfortunately, there are also services that aid this process at scale by providing fake certificates and paperwork, including fake degree attestation. According to the University of Bangalore, in 2013, it was receiving 20+ degree verifying enquiries per day and 1-3 percent of those were fakes that did not match their records.

You need to be vigilant and ensure you’re getting the genuine article at all levels of hiring by independently verifying professional licenses, employment, and education history, with a reputable background screening company.

What are some of the key considerations for India background checks?

Take into consideration the following when building your screening program:

  • Don’t assume that it will work the same as it does in the US. There’s no equivalent to the Social Security Number in India, so you’ll need to gather extra information around names, family names and addresses from candidates to ensure you have the right identity of the candidate
  • Again, don’t assume that it will work the same as it does in the US! The legal and court systems are also different, so the information retrieved and time taken to retrieve will be different.
  • Employment law related to employment screening is covered by the Penal Code, India Contract Law, IT Act of 2000 and Right to Information Act of 2005 in India. It’s also worth adopting global best practice on candidate consent, requesting candidate consent prior to running a background check, as well as providing the candidate with a copy of information found and providing a dispute resolution processes.
  • Extend your program to where your risk and compliance exists. Many companies from Financial Institutions to Telecommunications now have regional offices in India, but it’s equally important to consider your whole delivery chain, so if you are using external suppliers and vendors, you should also work with them to get a screening program in place.

What can be verified?

There have been strides towards a centralized reporting system, but it is not there yet, so in many cases information is being verified by hand or directly at the source. One positive development has been the creation of the NSR (National Skills Registry), but it is industry specific, so only applies to the IT / BPO industry. It is a national database of registered and verified knowledge workers, which is run by NDML – a fully owned subsidiary of National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) – and was setup in partnership with the industry and NASSCOM, so that potential employee skills can be verified.

In addition to employment and education history across all sectors, Accurate Background is able to verify the following in India:

  • Criminal History – using a range of sources, such as local government, law enforcement and the JUDIS (Supreme Court of India, Judgment Information System) database for High Court and District court case information
  • Civil Litigation searches – any civil suits, judgments or liens filed against the candidate, as well as local criminal court cases can be uncovered and reported
  • ID Check – for example, authenticity of a candidate’s National Identification Number or Permanent Account Number (PAN) card with the tax department. This can also include validity check of a Driver License, but adverse driving records are not available.
  • Professional Licenses and Professional References, such as type of license, date issued and if it’s still valid

Hopefully this gives you enough information to consider when implementing background checks in India. The Accurate Background team would be happy to work with you on any specific questions or considerations, so please do contact us to discuss your needs.