Background screening complexities in the LATAM region

Latin America

As organizations opportunistically focus on expanding borders and gaining a solid global foothold, managing current and prospective employees has become increasingly complex, making global employment screening a demanding task.

Background screening helps prospective employers validate credentials declared by the applicant at the time of hire. Hiring employees from new geographies and validating credentials while adhering to local laws is often a tightrope walk. Usually, when organizations hire employees and conduct background screening, their expectations are predominately based on outcomes from existing operations. However, these expectations seldom match with native ground realities. This gap between expectations and realities is what makes global background screening challenging.

Neeyamo’s dedicated market research arm conducted an independent study to analyze screening complexities across the globe. This article spotlights the screening complexities associated with countries in the Latin America (LATAM) region. Neeyamo’s expertise in background checks in the area over the past decade aided in performing the assessment and subsequent rankings. Scoring across each country in the LATAM region was captured using the parameters described below.

# Parameter Explanation
1 TAT Turn Around Time to complete the screening process post receiving all documentation
2 Documentation & Candidate Involvement Complexity in collecting documents from applicants & level of participation expected from an applicant (notarization etc.)
3 Digitized Records Applicant records available digitally
4 Data & Privacy Regulations Country-specific laws that could render screening complex
5 Successful Verification Outcomes Scoring based on successful verifications vs. “Unable to verify”
6 Average Discrepancy Score Successful identification of discrepancies as compared to local crime and corruption rates that render it almost impossible to deduce discrepancy (seen in certain countries for criminal records check)


Here are the top 8 countries with the highest screening complexities and supporting rationale:


Rank Country Rationale
1 Argentina In Argentina, prohibition to perform criminal checks using police records renders organizations incapable of completing criminal verification, resulting in the organization topping the list in the LATAM region. While one can still search through publicly available records, this cannot replace criminal verifications. This contributes to a high discrepancy score for Argentina, skewing the overall complexity index score. Non-hiring or termination based on drug test results may be considered discriminatory, and a candidate or an employee can file a claim against the employer. Linguistic barriers further pose a considerable challenge
2 Venezuela

Due to an ongoing socio-economic and political crisis, Venezuela projects numerous complexities in background screening. The country ranks high in crime rates, and the ongoing crisis has affected the digitalization of its records. Extensive delays in education verification responses are a concern. Due to the unavailability of records by select institutions, the corresponding checks are forcefully tagged as ‘Unable to verify’ – resulting in a relatively high UTV percentage.

3 Brazil

Brazil ranks 3rd amongst complex countries in the LATAM region due to its restrictions on using a criminal record to make an employment decision. As a general rule, not all organizations can conduct a criminal records check on their candidates, though criminal records are publicly available under Brazilian law. This rule is to prevent discriminatory action against those with past convictions or those pending ongoing investigations. Brazil’s criminal justice system is divided into Federal and State levels. The majority of the cases are dealt with state-level courts, leading to conducting a thorough search based on all addresses a candidate has stayed during the last 5/7 years.

The country enacted LGPD, Brazil’s General Data Protection Law, in 2020, which has put more controls on the collection and processing of personal and sensitive information of candidates.

4 Chile Chile ranks 4th due to its restriction in conducting financial checks (typically known as Credit Check, Bankruptcy, Financial Regulatory check, etc.) unless required for the job for which a candidate has applied. Criminal records in Chile and not completely digitized. Soaring crime rates in the country and the partial inability to adequately weed out an applicant with a criminal record poses a huge risk in the country, thereby validating its position in the complexity index.
5 Mexico

Mexico is a rapidly growing economy whose infrastructure favors the background screening process in comparison to other countries in the region.  However, the parameters that create complexities in this country are its restrictions on employers for conducting criminal records check. SEGOB, the authority maintaining criminal records at a National level, allows only the candidate to request a criminal records check. Hence, the standard practice for employers is to conduct criminal records checks through publicly available court records.

Conducting credit checks is not a standard practice in Mexico as there is no specific procedure defined by law for employers to obtain credit information.

Every country has its complexities and challenges when it comes to background screening. While in some regions, digitization of records remains the key challenge for increased complexity, for some others, socio-economic and political factors play a rather important role in increasing their complexity scores. With this article, we strive to ensure HR functions can incorporate the cultural diversities & the complications involved while conducting screening in the LATAM region and strategize as required.

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