The easy guide to employee background checks in Poland


May 3, 2023

Hiring in Warsaw or Kraków? Wherever in Poland you're growing your team, background checks are a crucial step. Not only does a background check verify your new hire’s credentials, it can help eliminate the risks of bringing on a potential threat to your company.

But for global companies hiring employees in Poland, navigating the background check process can be daunting. In Poland, the handling of private data is strictly regulated by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Poland’s Protection of Personal Data Act. You need to know what's allowed under Polish and EU law, how you're obligated to handle and store your employees' sensitive data, and more.

If you need a guide to running comprehensive and legally compliant employee background checks in Poland, read on.

Table of Contents

  • Are you legally required to run background checks on Polish employees?
  • Is it legal to run background checks on Polish contractors?
  • What types of background checks do businesses commonly run on Polish employees and contractors?
  • What types of background checks are illegal in Poland?
  • When should you conduct Polish employee background checks?
  • The easiest way to run a background check on a Polish employee or contractor
  • Background check mistakes to avoid in Poland
  • Frequently asked questions about background checks in Poland

Are you legally required to run background checks on Polish employees?

While not mandatory, background checks are legal in Poland but they are subject to strict limitations.

  • The candidate must give their permission and all checks must comply with EU and Polish law. Employers need to obtain explicit consent from job applicants before conducting background checks. It’s the employer’s responsibility to protect the applicant’s personal information and maintain their confidentiality, and use the information gathered only for legitimate purposes.
  • The candidate can also revoke permission at any time without fear of repercussions.

Employers are allowed to request information about job applicants that is relevant to the position including name, date of birth, contact information, qualifications, education, and employment history.

But employers should run minimal checks to make sure the worker is who they say they are: You can only request information that is directly related to the position. Requesting personal information relating to sexual orientation, ethnic background, and memberships in organizations like churches and political parties is not allowed. All requests must comply with the Polish labor code, the Polish Personal Data Protection Act, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union.

Is it legal to run background checks on Polish contractors?

Provided you have the contractor’s consent, yes—it’s legal to run background checks on contractors in Poland. You must ensure that you’re compliant with relevant privacy regulations.

What types of background checks do businesses commonly run on Polish employees and contractors?

In Poland, you can conduct different types of background screening, based on a new hire's role. Here are the most common types, and a few other background checks you can consider (more on each one below). All checks are subject to Polish and EU privacy laws.

Common background checks

Less common background checks

Employment history

Credit reports (depends on role)

Reference check

Social media profiles (depends on role)

Work authorization

Driving records (depends on role)

Education verification

Medical records (depends on role)

Criminal record (depends on role)

Here’s each type of check in more detail:

  • Criminal record. A criminal record check, including criminal convictions, requires access to data from Poland’s National Criminal Register. However, access to this information is highly restricted and is only permitted for certain occupations such as security personnel, teachers, and some jobs in the financial sector.
  • Employment history. You can contact the HR or payroll departments of a new hire's previous employers for past employment verification and to confirm their ability to do the job. However, this data must be relevant to the position. Anything else could violate privacy regulations.
  • Reference check. You can contact any references provided by a new hire, but you may not demand references.
  • Work authorization. You can ask for proof that a candidate is legally allowed to work in Poland. This may be proof of citizenship or a work visa.
  • Education history. Documents provided by the candidate are considered as proof of their educational background. Employers should not contact educational institutions to request information for confirmation. You can ask the candidate about their education background based on the information provided.
  • Credit reports. Credit checks and requesting personal financial information are generally not allowed. Exceptions are made for jobs that involve handling assets on behalf of your organization or firm.
  • Social media profiles. You can check social media profiles, but only on professional platforms like LinkedIn. Other social media channels should be avoided as this information is considered personal. Collecting it can violate the GDPR.
  • Driving records. You may check a candidate’s driving record with consent, but only if driving is part of the job.
  • Medical records. In Poland, workers are required to undergo preventative medical exams before being allowed to work. This ensures the employee is fit enough to do the work. Medical records are covered under Polish and EU privacy laws. Medical information is available only if required for the job and allowed under law. Consent is also required.

What types of background checks are illegal in Poland?

  • Questions about ethnicity, personal beliefs, and other personal information. The EU’s GDPR restricts employers from gathering and using personal data that reveals racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, and trade union membership. The processing of genetic data, biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a person, data concerning health, and data concerning a person's sex life or sexual orientation is prohibited.
  • Privacy laws in Poland are very strict. Unless certain criteria are met and the request is considered legal under EU and Polish regulations, you can only ask for personal information such as name, date of birth, contact information, and documentation related to the job (experience, employment history, education).

When should you conduct Polish employee background checks?

Polish employment background checks should be conducted as part of the pre-employment screening process, typically after a conditional offer of employment has been made to a job applicant. This means that an employer can only conduct a background check if the job offer is conditional upon the successful completion of the background check. Employers should also provide written notice to the job applicant that a background check will be conducted and obtain their written consent.

The easiest way to run a background check on a Polish employee or contractor

Several different companies can run background checks on employees in Poland, including Rippling, HireRight, and BackCheck. The easiest by far is Rippling because background checks are directly integrated into the onboarding flow.

Just enter basic hiring info like salary and start date, and Rippling will send the offer letter and new hire paperwork—and automatically run a legally compliant background check and e-verify the results. See Rippling today.

Background check mistakes to avoid in Poland

  • Collecting too much data. It's vital for employers to follow EU and Polish privacy laws and note how they emphasize minimum data collection. This means only collecting the data that's necessary for you to have for the new hire's role.
  • Not getting employee consent. Privacy laws in the European Union and Poland also require employers to obtain consent from applicants before beginning the process. Companies must also be upfront with candidates about what data they are using to run their background check, who their personal information is being shared with, and why.
  • Not deleting data of unsuccessful candidates. Employers must delete the personal data of unsuccessful candidates when the job is filled. If the employer wants to use the data for other purposes—like keeping a resume on file for future openings—they must have written consent from the applicant.
  • Skipping the background check. Because of all the different regulations in Poland and the EU, doing background checks on global hires can seem daunting—and it may be tempting to skip it altogether. But background checks, even minimal, are an important part of employee onboarding and help protect you and your firm. Exercising due diligence is crucial when hiring.

Rippling makes it easy to run background checks in Poland.

Frequently asked questions about background checks in Poland

Are background checks legal in Poland?

Yes, limited background checks are legal in Poland, provided they are conducted in compliance with Polish and EU privacy laws, human rights legislation, and other applicable regulations.

Employers are allowed to request types of information from job applicants that are relevant to the job position. This includes name, date of birth, contact information, education, professional qualifications, and work history.

Other checks are permitted with consent, but only in specific cases and they must be compliant with Polish and EU privacy laws. Employers must also ensure that they do not discriminate against job applicants based on any protected grounds, such as race, gender, religion, or criminal history.

What language do you use for background checks in Poland?

Background checks in Poland are conducted and documented in Polish. If you’re using a service provider to conduct background checks, you can use English with them.

How do privacy laws affect background checks in Poland?

Polish privacy regulations and the EU’s privacy laws (GDPR) are very strict and have a significant impact on background checks. Polish and EU privacy laws even extend beyond Poland's borders—meaning they must be followed by global organizations hiring employees in Poland.

How do human rights laws affect background checks in Poland?

Background checks in Poland generally fall under EU and Polish data, privacy, and labor regulations. However, if this data is used to discriminate for things like sexual orientation, racial or ethnic origin, and gender (to name a few) then this could fall under human rights laws. However, in Poland, most discrimination in the workplace is covered by the Polish labor code.

Do different industries in Poland require different background checks?

Different types of background checks are allowed for different industries. The general rule in Poland is that an employer should only conduct background checks that are necessary to the new hire's role—for example, you should only conduct a driver's license check if the role requires driving. Those seeking employment in civil aviation, for example, may undergo extra security screening.

How far back do criminal background checks go?

Criminal background checks in Poland can go as far back as when the applicant turned 18 and became a legal adult.

What are the benefits of running background checks in Poland?

Background checks come with many benefits for employers, including:

  • Enhanced security. Undertaking a background check as part of the recruitment process can help to identify potential job applicants who may present a threat to the company or its employees.
  • Protection against negligent hiring. If an employee of a company engages in public misconduct, the company may be deemed responsible. To mitigate this risk, conducting background checks can reveal prior misconduct and assist the company in making informed hiring choices.
  • Better hiring quality. Background checks play a crucial role in identifying potential job candidates who may have provided inaccurate or inconsistent information about their work or educational history on their application or resume. By verifying the accuracy of their qualifications and confirming their identity, these checks help to ensure that candidates are honest in their job applications.
  • Protection from occupational fraud. Conducting background checks can protect the reputation of your company by detecting dishonest and fraudulent job applicants, thus preventing any potential harm to the company's image.

Onboard new hires and run background checks with Rippling

With Rippling's Talent Management System, you can seamlessly onboard new hires and set them up for success. Just enter basic hiring info like salary and start date, and Rippling does the rest—including running a legally compliant background check and e-verifying the results.

Ready to hit the ground running with every new hire? See Rippling today.

Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: March 26, 2024

The Author

Doug Murray

A Vancouver-based B2B and business trends writer, Doug is a charter member of the global workforce, having lived and worked out of Scotland, Ireland, Mexico, Guatemala, Ghana and, of course, Canada.