HR Operations

Background checks: Process and rationale

The offer of employment to a final candidate in any UW Medicine position or other UW position that meets one or more of the criteria for designating a position as security/safety sensitive must be made contingent upon obtaining a satisfactory criminal conviction history background check. The term “security/safety sensitive” includes positions covered by the Washington State Child and Adult Abuse Law (CAAL).

This requirement does not apply to UW employee applicants who have already satisfied the background check requirement during their current period of University employment, unless otherwise required by law or University policy.

You can download a background check process diagram (PDF) that summarizes the complete criminal conviction background check process for staff, student employees, RAs & TAs, and volunteers.

At the time a requisition is created in UWHIRES you will designate whether or not the appointee will do work that is security/safety sensitive (your employment specialist can help make this determination). HR reviews candidate-disclosed convictions (if any) to determine final candidate referrals. You will then:

  1. Complete recruitment and candidate selection, and identify your preferred candidate.
  2. Consult with your employment specialist to obtain approval for the salary offer you wish to make.
  3. Make an offer of employment to your candidate contingent on obtaining a satisfactory criminal background check (use the HR-provided template (MS Word) or a document with similar content).
  4. If your candidate accepts your offer of employment:
    1. Make sure you have the candidate’s full legal name, current email address, and date of birth (DOB) to provide to your employment specialist, and promptly contact your employment specialist to begin the background check process.
    2. Tell your candidate to look for an email message from A-Check America within one business day of the date you notify HR that your candidate has accepted your job offer. The subject line will read: “University of Washington – Criminal Background Check – Request for Information ACTION REQUIRED” and the email will have A-Check website login instructions.
      1. Remind your candidate to check the spam/trash/junk mail folder if they do not see a message from A-Check in their inbox.
    3. Tell your candidate that they need to act on the email immediately as their system access will time out three days after the email message has been sent.
    4. Before accessing the A-Check system, tell the applicant to turn off any pop-up blockers they may be using.
    5. Instruct the candidate to notify you if they do not receive the A-Check email as expected and if this occurs, notify your employment specialist immediately.
  5. Your employment specialist will notify you of the background check results.

Each employing unit determines whether the appointee will do work that meets one or more of the security/safety sensitive criteria and follows its normal employment process to identify its preferred candidate. For work that is security/safety sensitive:

  1. Complete recruitment and candidate selection, and identify your preferred candidate.
  2. Have your finalist candidate complete the Criminal Conviction & Civil Finding History Questionnaire (PDF).
  3. If your candidate discloses any convictions that you believe may disqualify them from employment, discuss and evaluate the details with your employment specialist before you make a final employment eligibility determination.
  4. If the candidate does not disclose any disqualifying convictions or findings, make an offer of employment to your candidate contingent on obtaining a satisfactory criminal background check (use the HR-provided template (MS Word) or a document with similar content).
  5. If your candidate accepts your offer of employment:
    1. Make sure you have the candidate’s full legal name, current email address, and date of birth (DOB) to provide to your employment specialist, and promptly contact your employment specialist to begin the background check process.
    2. Tell your candidate to look for an email message from A-Check America within one business day of the date you notify HR that your candidate has accepted your job offer. The subject line will read: “University of Washington – Criminal Background Check – Request for Information ACTION REQUIRED” and the email will have A-Check website login instructions.
      1. Remind your candidate to check the spam/trash/junk mail folder if they do not see a message from A-Check in their inbox.
    3. Tell your candidate that they need to act on the email immediately as their system access will time out three days after the email message has been sent.
    4. Before accessing the A-Check system, tell the applicant to turn off any pop-up blockers they may be using.
    5. Instruct the candidate to notify you if they do not receive the A-Check email as expected and if this occurs, contact your employment specialist immediately.
  6. Your employment specialist will notify you of the background check results.

UW Medicine has a process in place for ensuring that volunteers are properly screened for disqualifying criminal convictions.

Academic Human Resources provides information about the background check process.

Hires into all types of positions that have direct access to “select agents,” as defined by the USA PATRIOT ACT of 2001, are subject to a suitability assessment that includes federal background checks and UW-required criminal conviction history checks.

UW Environmental Health and Safety notifies employing units of the background check and suitability assessment requirements and processes. Offers of employment into such positions must be made contingent on obtaining a satisfactory criminal background check result.


Use of social media in hiring and decision-making

The University has established Social Media Guidelines for the use of social media in a wide variety of business process, including employment. Please review the guideline on the Use of Social Media in Hiring and Decision-Making

Rationale

As part of its commitment to the safety of its students, clients, and employees, the University conducts criminal conviction background checks on finalist candidates for employment in positions that meet one or more of the criteria for designation as “security/safety sensitive”. This includes positions covered by Washington’s Child and Adult Abuse Laws (CAAL).

Human Resources is responsible for processing the background check, evaluating background check results, and informing employing officials about candidate eligibility for employment. A-Check America, the University’s vendor, runs the background checks as specified by the University, and reports results to HR.

Criminal convictions and employment eligibility

Except as required by law, the University does not disqualify a candidate from employment solely for having a criminal conviction record. Rather, when making employment eligibility determinations, the University considers any evidence that a candidate has engaged in behavior suggesting the person may pose a risk to others, has not been consistently reliable and trustworthy, or has engaged in the kind of illegal activity that would pose a risk to the University or University community.

Information about a candidate’s behavioral reliability may come from the candidate, their employment history and job references where available, and for security/safety sensitive positions, a record of criminal convictions.

In evaluating conviction history, the University considers the nature of the criminal conviction(s), its relationship to the position for which the candidate is being considered, how much time has passed since the conviction(s), the complete employment history, records of relevant educational achievement, and any other information bearing on the candidate’s ability to function reliably, lawfully, and safely as an employee.

Only after this full assessment is completed does the University determine whether it is appropriate to disqualify from employment a candidate having a criminal conviction record.