When thinking about hiring employees in the Netherlands, don’t skip the background check step in the screening process. Verifying the potential employee’s credentials through an employment background check is helpful to see if they’re a good fit for your company and vital to eliminating risks of fraud or liability to your company.
But what type of background check is allowed in the Netherlands? Staying compliant with employment verification, worker classification, and everything that comes with hiring abroad can be challenging for a global company. As an employer, you’ll need to keep track of local laws and regulations to see what type of personal data you can access before hiring. For example, in the Netherlands, the potential employee must have signed a consent form before you conduct a background check.
Read on to find out how to stay legally compliant when requesting employee background checks in the Netherlands and what mistakes to skip to avoid sanctions.
Table of Contents
- Are you legally required to run background checks on Dutch employees?
- Is it legal to run background checks on Dutch contractors?
- What types of background checks do businesses commonly run on Dutch employees and contractors?
- What types of background checks are illegal in the Netherlands?
- When should you conduct Dutch employee background checks?
- The easiest way to run a background check on a Dutch employee or contractor
- Background check mistakes to avoid in the Netherlands
- Frequently asked questions about background checks in the Netherlands
Are you legally required to run background checks on Dutch employees?
No, running background checks in the Netherlands isn't legally required.
Most Dutch employers do a background screening to verify employment history. Still, background checks are closely monitored by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ensure the candidate's personal data privacy.
Employers must adhere to Article 88 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Article 88 says employers can only access data directly relevant to the open role. Running a background check also requires a signed consent form from the candidate. The employer must adhere to local laws, protect the candidate's personal data, and gather only the necessary information to make the correct hiring decision.
Is it legal to run background checks on Dutch contractors?
Yes, it’s legal to run background checks on contractors as long as you get written, signed consent from the prospective contractor.
What types of background checks do businesses commonly run on Dutch employees and contractors?
The Netherlands has a particular framework and limitations surrounding the background screening process. During the hiring process, employers must have a legitimate reason for the employment screening related to the role. There are a few types of background checks you can do in the Netherlands.
Here’s each type of check in more detail:
- Certificate of good conduct (VOG). The verklaring omtrent het gedrag (VOG) is obtained through the Integrity and Screening Agency (Justis) or local municipality. It shows the employer that there’s no criminal record in your past relevant to the role and it can be obtained by the job applicant. This certificate is used in place of the standard criminal background check, as the Dutch police do not release criminal history reports.
- Credit report. In certain situations where this type of report is relevant to the role, employers can request a job applicant’s credit report to get insight into their credit history. The report will include any irregular financial information, including bankruptcies, court judgments, and repayment history from the primary credit bureau, the Bureau Krediet Registratie (BKR).
- Employment history. The job applicant can provide their previous employers' phone numbers to verify their employment dates, title, reason for leaving, and additional information.
- Reference check. Conducting a personal reference check is expected in the Netherlands to ask additional questions about their professional background.
- Security screening. In some cases, a role may require a security clearance. The Dutch Intelligence Agency can conduct a security screening and issue a declaration of no objection if they pass.
- Education verification. Employers can contact previous institutions in the job applicant’s academic history to verify credentials and confirm degrees.
- Social media profiles. Social media checks are becoming more common regarding background screenings among employers to see how a new hire conducts themselves in their public profiles.
- Blacklist registry. Managed by the Dutch Data Protection Authority, you can confirm that the job applicant is not on a blacklist. This list can contain individuals that have committed a crime or fraud against a past employer.
What types of background checks are illegal in the Netherlands?
- The Medical Examination Act prohibits asking candidates about health information irrelevant to the job posting. Unless the role requires a specific health status, it is prohibited to do a medical screening or request medical records. Applicants have the right to withhold their personal health information. The Pre-employment Medical Examinations Complaints Committee will serve sanctions if regulations are incorrectly followed.
- Asking about ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion. Pre-employment screenings cannot request personal information about the candidate per Article 88 of the EU GDPR compliance. You must treat all prospective employees equally.
- Requesting additional information irrelevant to the job description and not complying with the Dutch privacy laws and regulations set by the Data Protection Authority, for example, requesting a credit report when it’s not needed to determine the candidate’s fit for the role.
When should you conduct Dutch employee background checks?
Pre-employment screenings occur before the Dutch applicant is hired and given an employment contract. Before sending an offer letter, the employer should conduct all necessary background checks and confirm that the candidate is the right one for the vacant position.
Before conducting any background check, the employer must ask the job candidate to complete and sign a consent form with the background screening details.
The easiest way to run a background check on a Dutch employee or contractor
There are several different companies that can run background checks on employees in the Netherlands, including Rippling, Skuad, and HireRight. 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 the Netherlands
- Skipping the background check. While background checks and all of its regulations add an extra step to the hiring process, you may be tempted not to do it. According to some studies, about 50% of applicants lie about their credentials, so a background check will help you filter unfit candidates and protect your company name.
- Background checks are not created equal. Background checks in the Netherlands do not operate like in the US. The process is highly regulated, with different types versus one standard. The government encourages employers to collect only relevant data to the role.
- Storing data for too long. Following the pre-employment screening, the employer should only be kept until its purpose is completed. In this case, the candidate was hired. According to GDPR, once the data is used and serves no purpose, it must be securely and permanently deleted.
- Failing to request the candidate’s consent. Before running any background checks, you must obtain the candidate’s explicit written and signed consent form.
- Requesting medical information. Per the Medical Examination Act, employers cannot ask candidates for personal information about their health status if not relevant to the job posting.
- Collecting unnecessary information. Collecting irrelevant information during a background screening can violate the candidate’s privacy rights, leading to sanctions from the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
Frequently asked questions about background checks in the Netherlands
Are background checks legal in the Netherlands?
Yes, background checks are legal in the Netherlands and a standard step among Dutch companies.
Employers must comply with Dutch privacy laws and regulations to avoid sanctions for collecting too much information or not protecting the candidate's privacy. Any background check must be directly relevant to the job in question, including education verification, employment history, and security screening checks. Employers may not discriminate based on religion, race, gender, or other protected characteristics. The applicant's signed consent is required to conduct any background check.
What language do you use for background checks in the Netherlands?
A requested certificate of conduct (VOG) will be written in Dutch but accompanied by a summary in English. Any other relevant documentation to the hiring process can be submitted in Dutch or English, depending on the institution.
How do privacy laws affect background checks in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands has strict regulations surrounding the privacy of job applicants under the Dutch Data Protection Authority and Article 88 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Employers must have a legitimate reason to request a background check and must request the least amount of personal data necessary to make a hiring decision.
The employer must also request a signed consent form from the applicant to conduct a background check. Any personal data from the candidate must be stored safely until it no longer serves a purpose and permanently deleted.
How do human rights laws affect background checks in the Netherlands?
As an employer, always consider the Netherlands' human rights policies when conducting background checks. It is prohibited to discriminate against applicants on factors like gender, race, age, civil status, religion, or any other protected characteristic.
For job candidates with a criminal history, employers must be careful not to disqualify job candidates just based on their criminal record, carefully considering the circumstances and background. For example, if the role involves staffing a job with a vulnerable population like children or older adults.
Do different industries in the Netherlands require different background checks?
Depending on the industry, some background check screenings may be more relevant than others in the Netherlands. For example, a certificate of conduct is necessary for a role in childcare services and taxi driving, while a credit report is a must in accountants and finance positions.
A job candidate looking to handle confidential information may need employment verification and security screening. Remember to access only the data you need to make a hiring decision.
How far back do criminal background checks go?
It depends on the criminal offense. Criminal records begin at 12 years old for significant offenses like theft or murder and will appear in your certificate of conduct. For most jobs, the criminal history shared typically goes back only five years. For childcare, caregiving, and security jobs, background checks may go back up to 10 years or even longer, depending on the employer.
What are the benefits of running background checks in the Netherlands?
Background checks come with many benefits for employers, including:
- Recruiting top talent. Background checks help with credential validation and narrowing down job applicants with the education and skills needed to succeed. In many cases, up to half of applicants will lie about earning a degree.
- Protection from liability. A background check will help filter out applicants that may have unfit backgrounds and affect the safety of your company and those that work there.
- Hiring is expensive. Background checks help filter out job applicants that are not fit for the role and help save time and money in the long run.
- Protection from occupational fraud. Background checks protect your company name and reputation by helping avoid fraudulent job seekers and reporting them.
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.