NAIH, Hungary’s Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information issued new guidance on whether, and under what conditions, a Hungarian employer can conduct background checks of its employees or job candidates. (Please click here for a link to the guidance – available in Hungarian only.) Employers are advised to review their data processing operations and update their privacy policies and communications to job applicants in order to comply with NAIH’s requirements.

According to NAIH, Hungarian Law permits a former employer to send information on a prospective employee to a new employer only with the employee’s prior and informed consent. However, the NAIH guidance does not address frequent issues such as, whether information may be obtained through a background check without consent if it is necessary for the employer’s legitimate interests, or how to assess whether the prospective employee’s consent was actually “voluntary”.

In addition, NAIH confirmed that an employee’s or job applicant’s criminal background can be checked by requesting a “certificate of clean criminal record” (erkölcsi bizonyítvány). This record is a public document and its contents shall be accepted as authentic by everyone – including the employer – for 90 days from its issuance. This means that the employer cannot request information from the criminal records or oblige the employee to request such information on behalf of the employer either. The new guidance does not address the conditions under which an employer is allowed to request a “certificate of clean criminal record” or when it is unreasonable in an employment context.

NAIH also declared that collecting publicly available information from the internet or social networks is permitted. However, if the employer is using such information in the recruitment process, or during employment, it must inform the job applicants/employees. Job applicants and employees must have the right to access and dispute the information, if necessary (e.g. in case of inaccuracy, or to prevent discrimination).