|Administrative Policy 89:
Deborah L. Ford 4/2/13
Director, Human Resources
To provide a safe learning and working environment for students, employees and visitors, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside is required, under the direction of the University of Wisconsin System policy (20-19), to perform criminal background checks.
A criminal background check is part of a general background check and shall be conducted on all candidates recommended for hire before an offer of employment is made or as part of an offer of employment contingent upon a successful criminal background check. Individuals may not commence employment until they have successfully completed a criminal background check. This is not a substitute for reference checks.
A criminal background check is also required for current employees and volunteers holding a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations, as defined in paragraph (a) below, who have not previously been subject to such a criminal background check by the University. Moreover, employees and volunteers holding a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations shall be subject to a criminal background check every four years, and shall be required to self-disclose certain criminal offenses.
A “position of trust” will be defined as a paid or volunteer position with one or more of the following responsibilities:
- Access to vulnerable populations -- Responsibilities require unsupervised or significant access to vulnerable populations, defined as minors and medical patients. For purposes of this policy, a minor is a person under the age of eighteen (18) who is not enrolled or accepted for enrollment at UW-Parkside. Examples of settings with vulnerable populations include child care centers, summer camps for minors, precollege or enrichment programs, and health care facilities. This category also includes employees who are not directly working in those units, but have unsupervised access to the unit when the vulnerable population is present. This category does not include faculty or instructional academic staff performing regular teaching, service, and research responsibilities unless these responsibilities include unsupervised or significant access to vulnerable populations.
- Property access -- Responsibilities require the use of master key/card access and pertains to employees with key access to office, facilities, or worksites other than their own worksite, including UW residential housing facilities.
- Financial/fiduciary duty -- Principal responsibilities (50% or more) require handling, receiving, or having custody or money, checks or securities, or accounting for supplies or other property; authorizing (or making appropriations for) expenditures; approving, certifying, signing or countersigning checks, drafts, warrants, vouchers, orders or other documents providing for the paying over or delivery of money, securities, supplies or other property, or service of process; maintaining or auditing accounts of money, checks, securities, time records, supplies, or other property, or taking physical inventories of money, checks, securities, supplies, or other property.
- Executive positions -- Responsibilities involve top-level management functions throughout the institution including roles as Chancellor, Provost, Vice Chancellors and Deans. Executive positions are defined as all limited appointments and include any movement from a limited appointment to a different limited appointment.
Criminal background checks shall be repeated once every four years for employees and volunteers with access to vulnerable populations.
A candidate for hire in a faculty or academic staff position shall be defined as any prospective employee that is not currently a UW-Parkside employee or an employee of another UW System institution. A ‘candidate for hire’ in classified service shall be defined as any prospective employee that is not currently a UW System or other State of Wisconsin agency employee.
A criminal background check on prospective hires, employees, and volunteers will include a check of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Crime Information Bureau electronic database, and a check provided by a criminal background check vendor that includes the following components:
- Social security number trace -- Authenticates the individual’s information and generates a list of addresses the individual has lived at for the last seven years; as part of the trace, the University may verify that the social security number is valid and appropriately assigned to the individual.
- Criminal Felony/Misdemeanor by County of Residence -- superior and municipal court records search in any county in the U.S. in which the individual has resided in the last seven years.
- Sex Offender Registry -- sex offender search by state.
- National Criminal Background Database -- search of the vendor’s proprietary national criminal background check database.
UW-Parkside will conduct criminal background checks for the following:
- The finalist(s) for new unclassified, classified, and LTE hires (this includes faculty, administrators, associate lecturers and adjunct instructors).
- Current employees in a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations who have not previously been subject to a criminal background check by the University.
- Current UW-Parkside or UW-System employees who are appointed to a different position with UW-Parkside where criminal background checks are required by State and/or Federal law (Wisconsin Caregiver Law, Fiduciary Responsibility Law, Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act and other applicable laws).
- Current UW-Parkside or UW-System employees who are appointed to a different position with UW-Parkside where the majority of the position’s duties will be performed within residential facilities or appointed to a position of trust.
- Student employees who are hired in positions where the majority of duties will be performed within residential facilities, or in a position of trust, or in positions that require criminal background checks by State and/or Federal law (Wisconsin’s Caregiver Law, Fiduciary Responsibility Law, Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act and other applicable laws).
Criminal background checks conducted on foreign nationals will be subject to the following provisions:
- A criminal history check will be conducted covering time in the United States.
- A criminal history check in the individual’s prior country(ies) of residence will be conducted only if their country(ies) of residence provide criminal background information. Media searches are not considered a criminal background check.
Additional criminal and non-criminal checks (e.g. , motor vehicle, etc. ) may be run when appropriate in relation to the position.
Criminal background checks conducted for the University Police Department candidates are completed by the University Police Director according to the standards for law enforcement. The Human Resources Director will provide advice and counsel to the University Police Department.
Wisconsin law prohibits an employer from discriminating against an applicant or employee on the basis of arrest or conviction record unless the pending criminal charge or conviction substantially relates to the circumstances of the position. Applicants with a criminal history will not be automatically disqualified from UW System employment, and a UW System employee’s criminal history will not result in automatic disciplinary action or dismissal. If an applicant’s or employee’s criminal background check reveals a pending criminal charge or criminal conviction, the UW institution must engage in an individual analysis to determine whether a substantial relationship exists between the pending charge or criminal conviction and the functions of the position.
If an individual being considered for a position has a criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge the university will determine if there is a substantial relationship between the offense and the job responsibilities. If a substantial relationship exists, the university may decide that the individual may not be employed in that position. If an offer has already been extended the offer may be rescinded.
UW-Parkside employees and volunteers who hold a position of trust are to report any criminal arrests, charges, or convictions (excluding misdemeanor traffic offenses punishable only by fine) to the Director of Human Resources within twenty-four (24) hours or at the earliest possible opportunity. Failure to make the required report may constitute a violation of this policy and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
Information collected in connection with the background check will be treated confidentially to the extent permitted by the Wisconsin Public Records Act and other applicable laws.
The criminal background check process for all employees will be managed by Human Resources. The Human Resources Office will ensure compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Coverage of Vendors and Contractors -- To the maximum extent feasible, any agreement with a vendor or contractor whose employees, affiliates, or volunteers will have routine or unsupervised access to vulnerable populations (minors or medical patients) in the course of the contract must include a representation from the vendor or contractor stating that these employees, affiliates, or volunteers have satisfied a criminal background check conducted by a criminal background check vendor selected by the contractor that includes a check of the vendor’s proprietary national criminal background check database.
Coverage of Volunteers -- UW-Parkside shall perform criminal background checks on prospective volunteers when the volunteer position involved is a position of trust, or when required by law to perform criminal background checks for specified volunteer positions. Otherwise, UW-Parkside may determine whether a criminal background check shall be conducted on prospective volunteers. In making this determination, UW-Parkside will consider the level of direct supervision and guidance provided to volunteers and the nature of the duties of the volunteer position.
Criminal background checks must be conducted on current volunteers holding a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations, as defined in this policy, who have not previously been subject to a criminal background check by the University. UW-Parkside must ensure that a criminal background check is performed every four years on volunteers in a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations.
Coverage of Certain Users and Lessees of University Lands and Facilities -- Facilities use agreements or leases with outside organizations that use or lease University lands and facilities to operate multi-day programs for minors, or programs for minors that involve an overnight stay, must include a representation from the organization that its employees, affiliates, or volunteers have satisfied a criminal background check conducted by a criminal background check vendor selected by the organization that includes a check of the vendor’s proprietary national criminal background check database.
Statutorily Mandated Background Checks -- Notwithstanding anything in this policy, UW-Parkside will continue to perform criminal background checks for certain, specified positions in the form and manner required by state or federal law. Laws mandating criminal background checks for certain positions include:Â The Wisconsin Caregiver law (covering prospective caregivers for vulnerable populations such as minors, as well as those licensed by the state to provide direct health care services and treatment to clients); the Wisconsin Fiduciary law (covering positions that involve accounting, auditing, financial management, accounts receivable, accounts payable, procurement, retail operations, tax and fee collections, payroll, and handling of cash and checks); and the federal Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 and the Agricultural Protection Act of 2002 (covering employees who handle and work with hazardous agents or materials in campus labs, buildings or storage facilities).
Other Criminal Background Checks -- Nothing in this policy shall be construed to prevent UW-Parkside with a reasonable basis from obtaining, at any time, criminal background check information on any current employee or volunteer.
Background Check Requirement Notification
Criminal background checks will be conducted only on finalist(s) for a position. A letter of notice will be sent to the finalist(s) notifying them of the criminal background check requirement. A signed authorization must be received within 5 days from the finalist or he or she may be eliminated from further consideration.
Procedures for Conducting Criminal Background Checks
While interviewing candidates, the interviewers should not inquire about or discuss any aspect of a candidate’s criminal record. If a candidate asks questions about background checks, he or she should be told that a criminal background check will be conducted. Any questions regarding criminal background checks should be directed to the Director of Human Resources.
Every effort will be made to assure a timely hiring process. When a finalist has been identified, the hiring authority or designee will contact the Human Resources Office to request the initiation of the background check. The Human Resources Office will notify the hiring authority or designee as soon as the criminal background check is completed so that the offer of employment may be extended if appropriate.
The finalist for a position is required to provide accurate background information necessary to conduct a complete check and a signed statement authorizing UW-Parkside to conduct the criminal background check(s). These forms must be obtained separately from any application materials. A finalist who failed to complete these forms in a timely manner may not be considered further for employment.
An applicant’s failure to accurately and completely disclose his or her criminal conviction history may be grounds for removal from further consideration for a position.
If a past employee is being rehired after an absence of one year or less, another criminal background check is not required unless required by law, or is in a position or trust, or where the majority of duties will be performed within residential facilities.
Criminal Background Check Consultation
Upon receiving criminal background results that indicate offenses, a Criminal Background Review Team consisting of the Director of Human Resources or designee, and the appointing authority for the employing unit or department will consult to determine whether the criminal activity is substantially related to the functions of the position. In the case of faculty searches the Chancellor or designee will also be part of the criminal background review team. The Review Team may consult with other offices and individuals, inside and outside of the University (including the University Police Department, department chairs, program directors and the University’s legal counsel) as appropriate to determine whether a substantial relationship exists. The Review Team will review the results of an applicant’s criminal background check on a case-by-case basis.
If upon review of the record, a decision is made by the Review Team to disqualify a finalist on the basis of the criminal background check, the finalist must be informed by the Human Resources Director and advised of the decision. The applicant will be given a five working day time period to refute the information obtained in the criminal background check. Candidates may be given more time at the discretion of the Director of Human Resources.
The results of the review and the final determination on individual cases are strictly confidential and will be released only on a need-to-know basis upon the express written authority of the Human Resources Director. The Human Resources Director is responsible for documenting the decision to appoint or to refuse to appoint a candidate based on the result of the criminal records review.
When a decision has been made that an employment offer will not be made because the criminal offense is substantially related to the job, the decision of the Review Team is final.
All persons receiving and reviewing criminal background information regarding an individual shall maintain strict confidence to the extent permitted by the Wisconsin Public Records Act and other applicable laws. Additional information and records related to the background check review will be securely maintained in the Human Resources Office in a locked file separate from the personnel file for a period of seven years after the search has been concluded.
History: Adopted 11/26/2007 Authority: Regent Policy #20-19, Resolution 9276, amended 01/22/2013