Background checks: Rationale and process
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. The University uses Washington State Patrol’s WATCH check and A-Check America, the University’s vendor, to run the background checks as specified by the University, with results reported 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.
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.
At the time a position is created in Workday, you will designate whether or not the duties of the position include work that is security/safety sensitive (your HR recruitment team member can help make this determination). HR reviews candidate-disclosed convictions (if any) to determine final candidate referrals. You will then:
- Complete recruitment and candidate selection, and identify your preferred candidate.
- Consult with your HR recruitment team member to obtain approval for the salary offer you wish to make.
- Make an offer of employment to your candidate contingent on obtaining a satisfactory criminal background check:
- If your candidate accepts your offer of employment:
- Complete the prehire activity in UWHIRES.
- Tell your candidate to look for an email message from UWHIRES (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject line: “Candidate to Hire Portal.” The email provides an explanation as well as login instructions.
- Encourage the candidate to act on the email immediately as any delay in doing so may delay when they can begin their new job.
- Instruct the candidate to notify you if they do not receive the Candidate to Hire Portal email as expected and if this occurs, notify your HR recruitment team member immediately.
- Your HR recruitment team member will notify you of the background check results and initiate the hire in UWHIRES.
Student employees, including RAs and TAs and volunteers who perform duties that meet one or more of the security/safety sensitive criteria are required to complete a criminal history background check. Once you have identified your student employee or volunteer, you will:
- Have your candidate/volunteer complete the:
- Forward the completed form to your HR recruitment team member who will run the background check.
- Tell your candidate to look for an email message from A-Check Global to arrive sometime within the following two business days of the date you sent HR the authorization form. 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.
- Remind your candidate to check the spam/trash/junk mail folder if they do not see a message from A-Check in their inbox.
- 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.
- Before accessing the A-Check system, tell the applicant to turn off any pop-up blockers they may be using.
- Instruct the candidate to notify you if they do not receive the A-Check email as expected and if this occurs, contact your HR recruitment team member immediately.
- Your HR recruitment team member 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.
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.
In accordance with Administrative Policy Statement 10.13 Protecting Youth at the University of Washington, individuals in University youth programs who have the designation as “authorized personnel” must follow additional requirements as described below:
- Authorized personnel must successfully complete a CCHBC prior to interacting with youth and every three years thereafter.
- Authorized personnel who separate from University employment and then return to the University must complete a CCHBC prior to interacting with youth.
- If at any point while acting as authorized personnel in a youth program an individual is charged with an offense as identified in RCW 43.43.830, they must disclose this information immediately to the department or unit administrator.
- CCHBCs for University employees, volunteers, and students seeking to receive authorized personnel status will be administered by UW Human Resources and/or the appointing unit for academic personnel, and documented in the UW Youth Program Registration System.
- Contractors, outside agencies, and vendors involved in a youth program, or are using a University facility to operate a youth program, shall conduct a comprehensive CCHBC that covers, at a minimum:
- Convictions in the State of Washington
- National Sex Offenders Check
- Nationwide Federal Criminal Search
- For individuals who have not resided in state of Washington for the previous consecutive 3-year period prior to running their CCHBC
- National Criminal Database Check
- Nationwide/International Place of Residence Criminal Conviction Check
These requirements supplement UW policy regarding requiring CCHBCs for personnel in positions that meet one or more of the criteria for designation as security/safety sensitive. Positions with a UW Youth Program who are not designated as authorized personnel may still require a CCHBC per this criteria.