Legal Alert – New Act on Background Checks
A new Act on Background Checks will enter into force on 1 January 2015. The new Act implies certain extensions to employers’ right to carry out background checks on their employees, contractors, and job candidates in order to protect important public interests.
Under present law, employers may carry out background checks if their employee, contractor or job candidate works in tasks specifically defined in the Act. Like before, the new Act enables carrying out background checks if the employee gains important knowledge relating to national safety and defence or international relations. However, under this new Act background checks may also be carried out if the employee has access to information that, if revealed, could seriously damage the economy, the functioning of financial and insurance systems or any business essential for the public.
In addition, the new Act entitles employers to carry out background checks if the employee handles tasks relating to an essential infrastructure or production, for instance in water, energy, food or telecommunications sectors. In practice, companies will be entitled to carry out background checks on employees who are responsible for essential logistical tasks. For example, central food suppliers’ key persons may be subject to background checks under the new Act. It should be noted that even in the above-mentioned sectors, the extension only covers persons who administer the infrastructure or have access to essential information thereof.
The new Act also introduces a register for background checks that will be maintained by the Finnish Security Intelligence Service. The aim of the register is to avoid carrying out unnecessary double checks on persons working short-term in different tasks listed in the Act.