Certain industries in Canada such as education and childcare, health care and social services, financial services and banking, transportation, law enforcement and security, and the government have requirements that mandate employee background checks, specifically criminal record checks.
Why Are Background Checks Important in the Workplace?
Failure to conduct background checks on Canadian employees can result in regulatory non-compliance and legal penalties. Though, even in industries without specific legal requirements, background checks, such as criminal record checks, are viewed as a best practice to demonstrate a commitment to due diligence and risk management.
Reduce Liability with Background Checks
Canadian employers have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for their employees, customers, and the general public. Conducting background screening demonstrates due diligence in fulfilling this responsibility. For example, if an employer hires an individual with a history of violent behaviour and that person harms someone at work, the employer could be held liable for negligent hiring. Background checks help reduce this liability by identifying potential risks upfront. According to the Professional background Screening Association (PBSA), 94% of employers run background checks on candidates.
Background Checks for Employees
Hiring an employee without looking into their background can have severe consequences for your company's reputation. If an employee engages in criminal activity or unethical behaviour while representing your organization, it can damage your company's brand, trustworthiness, and customer relationships. Background checks help mitigate this risk by screening candidates for past misconduct or instances of dishonesty.
How Long Does a Background Check Take
The time it takes to complete any type of background check, criminal or otherwise, can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the check, the type of information being verified, the responsiveness of the sources, and the efficiency of the screening process.
A simple check that involves verifying employment history, educational credentials, and conducting a criminal record check can typically be completed within a few days to a week, assuming the information is readily available and the sources respond promptly. Though, online checks and automation can speed up the process. Here's how long the Certn background check process can take.
How Far Back Do Background Checks Go
The time frame covered by a background check depends on factors such as the purpose of the check, local regulations, and the employer's policies. Commonly, checks for criminal convictions go back seven years. Some jurisdictions may have restrictions on reporting certain types of convictions after a specific period, such as non-conviction records or minor offences.
Specific industries or positions may have stricter requirements, such as security-related or government roles where checks can go back further or involve more extensive scrutiny. The scope and depth of any check should be appropriate for the position and respect the privacy rights of candidates.
Types of Criminal Checks in Canada
In Canada, there are three types of criminal record checks checks:
Criminal Record Check (CRC): A criminal record check is the most basic type of screening and is conducted by local police agencies. A CRC is suitable for applicants looking to work for organizations that don’t involve children or vulnerable adults. It provides information on convictions and charges that have resulted in a criminal record. It may include summary convictions (less serious offences) and indictable convictions (more serious offences). However, it doesn’t provide information on outstanding charges or non-conviction records. Here is more on what a background check reveals.
Enhanced Police Information Check (E-PIC): The E-PIC is a more comprehensive check that includes the information covered in a CRC and may also include additional information such as outstanding charges and warrants, judicial orders, probation orders, and non-conviction records. The availability and scope of E-PICs can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the purpose of the check. E-PICs are often required for positions of trust or where a higher level of scrutiny is necessary.
Vulnerable Sector Check (VSC): This type of check is specifically for individuals who will be working or volunteering with vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities. It includes a CRC and also searches for records of sexual offences that may not appear in a CRC. The VSC is typically required for positions involving direct contact with vulnerable individuals.
Jobs that Require Background Checks
The following types of jobs may request a background check as part of the hiring process:
Education and childcare roles: Teachers, educational assistants, daycare workers, and individuals working with vulnerable populations like children or individuals with disabilities often require a criminal check to ensure the safety of those they serve. Additionally, these roles may require a vulnerable sector check.
Health care and social services professions: Jobs in healthcare settings, such as nurses, doctors, and support staff, may require a criminal record check. Similarly, social workers, counsellors, and other professionals working in the social services sector often undergo background checks. It’s likely that a vulnerable sector check is required as well.
Financial and banking positions: Some jobs in the financial sector, particularly those dealing with sensitive financial information or positions of trust, may require a criminal record check. Additional checks like credit checks may also be requested.
Transportation and driving-related jobs: Certain jobs that involve driving, such as commercial truck drivers, taxi drivers, and public transit operators, may require a criminal record check to ensure public safety. In Canada, a background check is often paired with a driver’s abstract, which is a record of a person’s driving history.
Law enforcement and security positions: Police officers, correctional officers, security guards, and private investigators typically undergo a thorough background investigation including an enhanced police information check, or E-PIC as covered above, due to the nature of their work. E-PICs combine a search of the National Repository of Criminal Records in Canada and a search of local police information within multiple databases.
Government positions: Various government roles, especially those involving access to sensitive information or national security, often require the most comprehensive type of criminal record check. This includes positions in intelligence agencies, military, and other security-related roles.
This isn’t a definitive list. It's important to note that the specific requirements for any check can vary depending on the employer, position, and industry. The level of screening may also vary, ranging from a basic check to more extensive background investigations.
It's also worth noting that checks should be conducted ethically and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, the Federal Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection Act in Canada or the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in the United States and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe if you hire internationally.
This is where Certn’s compliance experts can help.
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Trusted by 10,000+ clients, Certn is innovating background screening with the easiest-to-use online platform, 24/7 customer support, and fast and compliant results from global databases. Certn helps businesses hire faster and manage risk — all while delivering user experiences that help them stand out.
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There’s also MyCRC if you need to order a Canadian criminal record check on yourself.
Certn offers better and faster experiences for everyone. Certn is revolutionizing background screening with the easiest-to-use online platform, 24/7 customer support, and fast and compliant results from global databases. Why wait? Trusted by 10,000+ clients, Certn helps businesses hire faster and manage risk — all while delivering user experiences that help them stand out. Learn more at certn.co.