Background checks: Overview
The University of Washington conducts criminal conviction history background checks on all finalist candidates for employment in staff positions, and for student employee and volunteer and contractor placements designated as security/safety sensitive, which includes positions covered by Washington’s Child and Adult Abuse Laws (CAAL).
The offer of employment to a final candidate in any staff position must be made contingent upon obtaining a satisfactory criminal conviction history background check.
Eligibility for employment or volunteer placements is conditioned on, among other things, receipt of a satisfactory criminal conviction report and proof of eligibility to work in the United States.
Types of Checks Run
The Campus and UW Medicine Recruiting teams in UW Human Resources (UWHR) are responsible for processing background checks, evaluating background check results, and informing employing officials about candidate eligibility for staff and student employee positions and volunteer and contractor placements unless departments have been approved by UWHR to run checks themselves. Checks are run after the offer has been extended.
The type of criminal conviction history background check used depends on the amount of time a candidate has resided and worked in the state of Washington. One set of checks is run for candidates that have consistently resided and worked in Washington for more than three years; an expanded set of checks is run for candidates that have resided and worked in Washington for less than three years.
For candidates that have consistently resided and worked in Washington for more than three years, the UW will run:
- Washington Access to Criminal History (WATCH) through the Washington State Patrol
- National Sex Offenders Check*
- Nationwide Federal Criminal Search*
For individuals who have not resided in the state of Washington for the previous consecutive 3-year period prior to their criminal conviction history background check, in addition to the above, the UW will run the following checks:
- National Criminal Database Check*
- Nationwide/International Place of Residence Criminal Conviction Check*
*These checks are run through UW’s vendor A-Check America, with results reported to UWHR.
The employing unit is responsible for paying background check charges. More information on costs and billing can be found on the Background checks: Costs and billing webpage. Additionally, your recruiting team member can answer questions about the process and fees.
Review of Background Check Results and Employment Eligibility
Except as required by law, when 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 candidate’s 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 UWHR Recruiting determine whether it is appropriate to disqualify a candidate from employment based on a criminal conviction record.
Individuals may request a copy of their background check results.
Background checks for current employees
The criminal conviction history background check requirement does not generally apply to internal UW candidates who have already satisfied the background check requirement during their current period of University employment. A background check is required when a current UW employee who has not already satisfied the background check requirement moves into a position that requires satisfactory completion of a background check.
A new or additional criminal conviction history background check can be obtained if otherwise required by law or University policy, or if there is reasonable suspicion for relevant criminal history.
Other background checks
Other legal or policy requirements may require UW to run additional background checks. UWHR Recruiting teams coordinate these checks; departments may run additional checks on their own in coordination with UWHR. These checks include, but are not limited to those run on:
- Applicants to positions in Environmental Health & Safety working in the select agent program and/or radiation safety.
- Third Party Led Programs – In accordance with Administrative Policy Statement 10.13 Protecting Youth at the University of Washington, individuals in University youth programs who are designated as “authorized personnel” must follow additional requirements as described in the policy.
During the staff employment application process at the University of Washington, applicants are required to complete specific prehire questionnaires. Employment or appointment as a volunteer may be denied for any misrepresentation or omission in the information provided.
- Criminal conviction history disclosure – For all positions at the medical centers which are CAAL covered, criminal conviction history self-disclosure occurs at time of application. For all campus positions, UW asks applicants about convictions only after an applicant is determined otherwise qualified for a position.
- Sexual misconduct disclosure – Washington state law requires UW to ask final candidates to complete a sexual misconduct declaration prior to offer of employment. More information about the sexual misconduct disclosure can be found on the sexual misconduct policy webpage.