Total Talent Management

Background checks: FAQ


When is a criminal background check required for classified staff, contract covered staff, professional staff, and temporary staff positions?

A criminal background check is required for new hires into security/safety sensitive positions (includes positions covered by Washington’s Children and Adult Abuse Law (CAAL)). For current employees, a criminal background check is required when an employee who has not had a UW criminal background check moves to a security/safety sensitive position. The scope of the background check is based on how long the candidate has resided in Washington State.

Who determines when a position is properly designated as security/safety sensitive and/or CAAL-covered?

All positions in the medical centers are designated as security/safety sensitive (and CAAL-covered). For Campus HR Operations, the hiring department, in consultation with the HR recruitment team member, determines which positions are designated as security/safety sensitive based on the duties and responsibilities of each position.

Is a criminal background check required for a UW employee who currently holds a security/safety sensitive position if the employee has not previously had a criminal background check?

No. The criminal background check requirement only applies to individuals hired into security/safety sensitive positions on or after July 1, 2007.

Does the criminal background check requirement apply when an employee is assigned new security/safety sensitive duties in the employee’s current position?

No. Currently, criminal background checks are not conducted when duties are added to the employee’s current position.

Should a criminal background check be conducted on the finalist for a position that periodically covers for another employee in a security/safety sensitive position?

Yes. A criminal background check is appropriate for a position that will provide backup coverage for another position having security/safety sensitive duties, even if such duties are only performed occasionally.


How are criminal background checks conducted for students, volunteers, or affiliate appointees who perform security/safety sensitive work? Who is responsible for notifying students and volunteers of background checks requirements and results?

For the medical centers, all staff background check processes are conducted centrally. Medical Centers HR Operations conducts background checks for employees, and Volunteer Services conducts them for volunteers.

Outside of the medical centers, departments should consult with their HR recruitment team member to determine how to arrange for the checks to be conducted. The employing department is responsible for notifying student employee and volunteer candidates when a post-offer criminal background check is required, and for collecting an applicant-completed authorization  before the check is conducted.

How long does it take to conduct a criminal background check?

Most background checks can be completed within two to three business days after the selected candidate provides the required information to the University’s contractor.

How are departments informed of the results of the criminal background check?

Your HR recruitment team member will notify you whether the candidate is eligible for employment and then will initiate the hire in UWHIRES. If the candidate is not eligible for employment, the HR recruitment team member will tell you that the candidate has a disqualifying criminal conviction history, but will not reveal details of the criminal conviction information.

Who informs the candidate of disqualifying background check results?

HR notifies the candidate of ineligibility for employment via email.

If a candidate is found ineligible for employment based on the results of the background check, who may the department contact for further information?

You may contact the Human Resources employment manager/supervisor that serves your department.

Employment and appointment

For candidates who are subject to a criminal background check, how soon can they begin work?

The candidate can start work as soon as your HR recruitment team member notifies you of a satisfactory background check result and the hire is initiated in Workday.

Does our offer of employment need to be in writing in order to conduct a “post-offer” criminal background check?

There is no regulatory requirement for an offer to be in writing in order to conduct the “post-offer” criminal background check. However, making or confirming an offer in writing is appropriate because it helps to ensure the candidate receives complete and accurate information about the employment and background check process. See the job offer template letter (Word)

Can written offers of employment for security/safety sensitive positions be made by email?

Yes. All such offers must be conditioned on obtaining a satisfactory criminal background check on the selected candidate. Retain a copy of the email in your files.

If a thumbprint is required to complete a criminal background check, can a department employ the selected candidate before the result is available?

This depends on the department’s hiring practices and the nature of the crime(s) reported in the preliminary results. If the department allows a candidate to begin work, the department must provide the candidate with written notice that continued employment is contingent on a satisfactory criminal background check result. Discuss the anticipated time frame for completing the check with your HR recruitment team member.

Costs and charges

How will I know which candidate(s) background check charges apply to?

When the HR recruitment team member runs the background check, the ProCard on file for the requesting department is charged. Documentation will include the date, charge, requisition number, and name of the candidate for whom the check was run. For ProCard reconciliation, the object/subject code for background checks is 03-69.

What if a department feels that it can’t afford the cost of conducting criminal background checks?

Hiring officials are encouraged to consult with their supervisors or administrators about funding. Background checks must be conducted if a position meets the security/safety sensitive criteria, and the employing unit is responsible for the cost of the background check.

If the final candidate rescinds his/her acceptance of the job offer after a criminal background check is conducted, will the background check fee be refunded?