HRM-034: Background Checks and Ongoing Responsibility for Employees to Disclose Criminal Convictions

Date: 03/02/2018 Status: Final
Last Revised: 03/02/2018
Policy Type: University
Oversight Executive: Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
Applies To: Academic Division, the Medical Center, and the College at Wise.
Reason for Policy:

The University of Virginia has a vital interest in providing a safe environment for its students, patients, visitors, and employees. Background checks and employees’ disclosures of criminal convictions help University officials in their efforts to minimize, evaluate, and respond to risk to the University community in a timely manner.

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Conditional Offer:

    An offer of employment made to a final candidate that is contingent on the completion of the background check inquiry and verification that the candidate is eligible for employment in the position.

  • Contingent Hire:

    A decision to allow a final candidate to begin work prior to the completion of a background check.

  • Controlled Substance:

    A drug that has been declared by federal or state law to be illegal for sale or use, but may be dispensed under a physician's prescription.

  • Graduate Medical Education (GME) Trainee:

    An individual who is employed by the University of Virginia Medical Center as a trainee in an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited or non-ACGME accredited post-graduate training program.

  • Student:

    An individual who either has been admitted to a degree or certificate program at the University or has received permission to enroll and is registered for coursework (including credit or non-credit) at the University during any given academic session (including fall or spring semesters, Summer Session, or January Term). 

Policy Statement:

The University requires that background checks be completed in a manner that is compliant with applicable federal and state law on all of its employees and others covered by this policy as part of the hiring/selection process (see Section I, Who is Covered by this Policy). In addition, the University requires its employees and others covered by this policy, including those hired or engaged prior to the effective date of this policy, to disclose any criminal conviction within five calendar days of the occurrence (see Section IX, Ongoing Responsibility to Disclose Criminal Convictions). In consultation with the Office of University Counsel, the University may conduct a background check on a current employee if information becomes available that brings into question whether a particular employee is compliant with this policy.

It is important to note that this policy establishes the minimum background check requirements for the University. In certain cases, select Schools/Business Units may have a compelling business need to require heightened background check requirements based on specific role. In those situations, the more inclusive policy is the standard that the local school/business unit will apply.

Employees will be notified of the requirements of this policy annually.

  1. Who Is Covered by this Policy:
    • Classified and University staff;
    • Faculty, including visiting scholars and visiting faculty;
    • Medical Center employees;
    • Professional research staff, including post-doctoral research associates;
    • Non-employee post-doctoral fellows;
    • Wage employees, including staff, faculty, and professional research staff;
    • UVA Temps; and
    • UVA students whose employment/academic work, or internships/practica through the University will involve providing clinical services to, direct supervision of minors who are not enrolled as students at UVA, or will require access to Controlled Unclassified Information subject to NIST SP 800-171 safeguarding requirements.
  2. Evaluation of Criminal Convictions:
    Criminal convictions, whether identified through the background check process, through an employee’s self-disclosure, or through an administratively initiated background check of an existing employee, may not be an automatic bar or end to employment. Convictions will be reviewed with respect to the nature and gravity of the offense(s); time since conviction; completion of sentence or any other remediation; relevance to the position for which the candidate is being considered/employee is performing; and discrepancies between the background check and what the employee/candidate self-reported. Providing inaccurate, incomplete, or falsified information in response to the requirements of this policy may result in the candidate being ineligible for hire or in the employee being terminated.

    Candidates/employees will be given the opportunity to explain any discrepancies or omissions before a final decision is made regarding their hire/ongoing employment. When a finding may adversely impact an individual’s eligibility to be engaged by the University in a specific position, the candidate or employee will be notified of the decision by the appropriate human resources professional and given associated information that the University has received (see Procedures). In the event the determination relates to a faculty member, the Provost or designee will confer with the applicable Dean, Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer or designee before making a final determination. The Provost will make the final determination.

    For all staff employees, the vice president and chief human resources officer or designee will make the final determination in consultation with the appropriate executive vice president or the executive vice president’s designee.

  3. Background Check Inquiries:
    Background checks will be conducted only on final candidates who have accepted a conditional offer and will be used to evaluate the candidates’ eligibility to be employed at the University. Background checks will not be used to discriminate on any basis specified in the University’s Notice of Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity.

    Consent to the background check inquiry is a condition of employment at the University.

    Once a final candidate has been identified and a conditional offer has been extended, the University will initiate background check inquiries with third-party vendors, the Virginia State Police, and other organizations at the University’s discretion.

    Background check inquiries may include any of the following:

    • Criminal history conducted nationwide as well as in all U.S. states, counties, or regions where the candidate has resided;
    • International criminal history (when possible, for candidates who have resided outside the United States);
    • Employment verification;
    • Diploma/degree validation (typically only for the highest level of education, if required for employment or licensure);
    • Sexual offender registry;
    • Professional licensure verification (typically only for positions requiring licensure, such as health care practitioners);
    • Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) records (typically only for positions that routinely operate vehicles owned by the University, see policy PRM-014, Use and Management of University-Owned Vehicles);
    • If required by external funding agencies or for high-risk positions, interviews with sources such as supervisors, associates, public record or various federal, state, and local agencies ;
    • Examination of federal debarment lists, as required by federal law; and
    • Other screenings required by law (see Section V, Other Screenings and Disclosures Required by Law).

    The results of the background check will be evaluated in accordance with Section II, Evaluation of Criminal Convictions, to determine the final candidate’s eligibility for employment in the position. In the event the candidate is determined to be ineligible for the position, the conditional offer will be withdrawn (see Procedures).

    Once background checks have been completed successfully, candidates will be notified that they are governed by the ongoing responsibility to disclose criminal convictions (see Section IX, Ongoing Responsibility to Disclose Criminal Convictions) and no further background checks are required before the candidate begins work.

    Current employees who are applying for a new position must undergo a new background check only if they are applying for a position in a home health or hospice/palliative unit, inpatient psychiatry unit, University child care centers, pre-hospital emergency medical services, or a position that has been identified as high-risk/sensitive (as described in Section VI, Positions Identified as High-Risk/Sensitive).

    Current employees whose employment record remains active in the University’s human resources system during a period of non-pay are not required to undergo a new background check upon resuming paid service. This includes employees on approved leaves of absence and teaching faculty who do not teach for up to two consecutive terms.

    Employees who are being promoted, tenured, reappointed, transferred, or reassigned do not require background checks.

    Individuals offered employment may not begin work at the University until after the designated hiring official is notified that the required components of the background check process have been completed and properly validated (see Section VII, Contingent Hires).

  4. Confidentiality of Background Check Results:
    All background check results will be maintained confidentially by University Human Resources and will be disclosed only to authorized University representatives whose University responsibilities require there be a business justification for access to the background check results.

  5. Other Screenings and Disclosures Required by Law:
    Except as stipulated below, criminal convictions are not an automatic bar to employment at the University (see Section II, Evaluation of Criminal Convictions). The provisions of this section apply to convictions disclosed by candidates/employees or identified through background check inquiries.

    Candidates/employees with convictions for crimes listed in Virginia Code Section 19.2-392.02 are typically barred from employment at the University but may be eligible for some types of employment, depending on the type of conviction, date of conviction(s), frequency of offense(s), subsequent work history, and the nature of the job for which the candidate is applying.

    1. Home Health or Hospice/Palliative Units:
      As required by Virginia Code Section 32.1-162.9:1, candidates with convictions for crimes listed in Virginia Code Section 19.2-392.02 will not be considered for employment in home health or hospice/palliative units except as provided in that statute. Current UVA employees will be required to disclose all criminal convictions on their application when applying for employment in home health or hospice/palliative unit positions.

    2. Inpatient Psychiatry Units:
      As required by Virginia Code Section 37.2-416, candidates with criminal convictions listed in Virginia Code Section 19.2-392.02 will not be considered for employment that includes responsibility for treatment, case management, health, safety, development or well-being of patients on the inpatient psychiatry units (“Psychiatry Unit Employment”). Current UVA employees will be required to disclose all criminal convictions on their application when applying for Psychiatry Unit Employment.

      Final candidates for Psychiatric Unit Employment must consent to be fingerprinted and sign the disclosure and authorization statements required for a nationwide criminal records check. Candidates who fail to sign and return the statement and/or provide fingerprints will not be considered further.

      If the background check inquiry reveals no convictions for crimes listed in 19.2-392.02, final candidates may begin Psychiatric Unit Employment subject to the results of an additional background check inquiry conducted through a national criminal history registry maintained by Virginia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) to confirm that the candidates’ national records contain no history of crimes listed in Virginia Code Section19.2-392.02. Candidates for Psychiatry Unit Employment must also provide written consent and the personal information necessary to obtain a search of the registry of founded complaints of child abuse and neglect maintained by the Virginia Department of Social Services (DSS) pursuant to Virginia Code Section 63.2-1515. If the additional nationwide criminal background check or the DSS registry search reveals a history of crimes listed in Virginia Code Section 19.2-392.02 or a history of founded complaints, the conditional offer of employment will be withdrawn.

      Contract workers and students who provide services related to treatment, case management, health, safety, development or well-being of patients on the inpatient psychiatry units are subject to the same requirements detailed above (including fingerprinting, nationwide criminal records search, and DBHDS disclosure).

    3. University Child Care Centers:
      As required by Virginia Code Section 63.2-1719, candidates with convictions for crimes defined as a “barrier crime” in Virginia Code Section 19.2-392-02 will not be considered for employment in the University’s child care centers. Current UVA employees will be required to disclose all criminal convictions on their application when applying for employment in UVA child care centers.

      Final candidates must provide the required sworn statement or affirmation, written consent, and the personal information necessary to obtain a search of the registry of founded complaints of child abuse and neglect maintained by the Virginia Department of Social Services (DSS) pursuant to Virginia Code Section 63.2-1515. If the DSS registry search reveals a history of founded complaints, the conditional offer of employment will be withdrawn.

      Once employed in a UVA child care center, employees must repeat this process every three years: provide sworn statement and consent to/provide information necessary to conduct a background check inquiry as described above (see Section III, Background Check Inquiries) and search of the DSS registry.

    4. Pre-Hospital Emergency Medical Services:
      In compliance with Virginia Code Section 32.1-111.5, final candidates for employment in a pre-hospital emergency services position must submit fingerprints and complete a disclosure form for submission to the FBI for the purpose of conducting a state and national criminal history check. The results of these checks will be reviewed by the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to determine if final candidates are eligible for certification and/or affiliation with an EMS agency. If a final candidate is found to be ineligible, the conditional offer of employment will be withdrawn.

    5. Debarment Checks:
      UVA will not knowingly employ or credential any individuals or entities who are under federal exclusion or debarment or who are excluded from participation in a federal healthcare program or convicted of a criminal offense related to the provision of healthcare items or services for which one may be excluded under 42 U.S.C. §1320a-7 (an “excludable crime”).

      In order to avoid hiring, employing, granting clinical privileges to, or retaining any individual excluded or debarred from federal programs, UVA conducts pre-employment and ongoing routine screening checks for employees, graduate medical education (GME) trainees, clinical staff, and Allied Health professionals against the sites maintained by the Office of the Inspector General, the General Services Administration, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Treasury. These sites provide lists of excluded or debarred individuals or entities (excluded lists).

      Prospective employees (including GME trainees) are also required to disclose whether they are ineligible or excluded from federal programs or have been convicted of an excludable crime. Any prospective employee included on any of the exclusion lists will be prohibited from employment or contracting with the University.

      Current employees (including GME trainees) who appear on the excluded lists may also be suspended or terminated in accordance with applicable University policies.

  6. Positions Identified as High-Risk/Sensitive:
    High-risk/sensitive positions as defined in Virginia Code Section 2.2-1201.1 are responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of citizens or protection of critical infrastructures; have access to sensitive information such as federal tax information made available pursuant to an approved exchange agreement with the Internal Revenue Service or Social Security Administration; and those positions that are otherwise required to be designated as sensitive by state or federal law. UVA Human Resources will collaborate with various University offices to identify and track the positions that are categorized as High-Risk/Sensitive.

    The University conducts pre-placement drug screening and a fingerprint-based background check for all candidates selected to fill high-risk/sensitive positions, including current employees who elect to transfer to a high-risk/sensitive position. Any position determined by the University to be high-risk/sensitive will be clearly identified as such in the job posting, which must also specify the requirement that final candidates must submit to pre-placement drug screening and a fingerprint-based background check as a condition of employment.

    Individuals selected or recommended to fill a high-risk/ sensitive position may not begin work at the University pending the completion of pre-placement drug screening and a fingerprint-based background check.

    Candidates denied employment for a high-risk/ sensitive position, will be disqualified from further consideration for future high-risk sensitive positions.

    Personal privacy will be respected to the extent practicable in the administration of drug screening. Screening results will be maintained in confidential medical information files revealed only to the tested candidate, to personnel who have an institutional need to know, to other individuals or agencies as may be required by law. University employees, including personnel involved in conducting the screening, will be subject to discipline for unauthorized disclosure of personally identifiable information.

  7. Contingent Hires:
    If the duration of a particular background check for a new employee is expected to exceed six weeks and the position has not been identified high-risk/sensitive, the vice president or dean may allow the candidate to begin work after the criminal background, sexual offender registry, and professional license verification components of the background check process, along with any other screenings required by law (see Section V, Other Screenings and Disclosures Required by Law) have been completed and evaluated in accordance with the terms of this policy. International background checks will be initiated, where applicable, but, when such checks are expected to exceed six weeks and the position has not been identified as high-risk/sensitive, a contingent hire may be approved provided the previously specified components of the background check process in the United States have been completed and evaluated in accordance with the terms of this policy. In the event of a contingent hire, the conditional offer must state that the final offer is contingent upon the satisfactory outcome of the remainder of the background check process and reference this policy.

  8. Confidentiality of Employees' Disclosures:
    Records related to disclosures from current employees will be maintained confidentially by UVA Human Resources (UVA HR). Information will be shared with supervisors and other UVA officials only as appropriate, as determined by the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) (or designee).

  9. Ongoing Responsibility to Disclose Criminal Convictions:
    During the course of employment, any employee convicted for any crime (excluding moving traffic violations) has five (5) calendar days to report the conviction via the online employee conviction disclosure form. Employees whose responsibilities include the use of University-owned vehicles (see policy PRM-014, Use and Management of University-Owned Vehicles) must also report any moving traffic violation within five (5) calendar days of the citation.

    Upon receiving a disclosure, UVA Human Resources (UVA HR) may, if appropriate, refer the disclosure to the University’s Threat Assessment Team and other pertinent UVA offices to evaluate whether there is potential risk to warrant further action. In addition, if UVA HR determines that the disclosure constitutes a possible violation of University policy or could compromise the individual’s ability to effectively perform his/her job, UVA HR will contact the appropriate official in the school/unit and, if appropriate, the employee’s supervisor to discuss the possibility of further action. UVA may, given the nature of the conviction, place an employee on leave pending the outcome of its investigation. Depending on the facts and the employee's involvement in the events leading to a conviction, convictions reported to the employee’s department may, in accordance with University policy, result in discipline, up to and including termination.

  10. Compliance with Policy:
    Failure to comply with the requirements of this policy (including, but not limited to, the ongoing responsibility to disclose criminal convictions) may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination in accordance with relevant University policies.

    Questions about this policy should be directed to the Contact Office.

Procedures:

Pre- and Post-Hire Procedures:

  1. Pre-Employment Background Check Process:
    1. Reporting Requirements for Applicants:
      Any position that requires applicants to disclose criminal convictions as part of the application process will be identified with this requirement in the job posting. Applicant self-disclosures for these positions must include the date of each conviction, whether it was a felony or misdemeanor, and the county, state, and country in which it occurred. If the applicant leaves the criminal conviction question Section unanswered for positions that require applicant self-disclosure, the application will not be considered further.

    2. Evaluating Job Applicants' Self-Disclosures:
      Applicants who disclose criminal convictions that are defined by state law as a barrier to employment in specific types of positions (see Section V, Other Screenings and Disclosures Required by Law) will not be considered further. For all other disclosures made on applications for relevant positions, criminal convictions will be reviewed by UVA HR to determine whether or not the application will be considered, taking into account the date of conviction(s), subsequent work history, and other relevant factors. If further review is warranted, UVA HR will consult with other University officials as appropriate, prior to allowing a candidate to be considered for any position. If the candidate is determined to be ineligible for the position, UVA HR will notify the candidate accordingly.

      UVA HR will compare the completed background check report with the information disclosed by the candidate. If there are no convictions or no convictions that UVA HR determines to be disqualifying, UVA HR will inform the appropriate school/unit that the hire may proceed.

      If a criminal conviction is revealed as part of the background check, UVA HR will consult, as necessary, with the hiring official on the nature and circumstances of the conviction. The candidate will be given the opportunity to explain or discuss the conviction with the authorized University official (or designee).

      In the event the vice president and CHRO or designee finds the conviction is serious enough to warrant review prior to a final decision regarding employment, the CHRO or designee will consult with the appropriate unit head and the Office of University Counsel, as needed, before making a final determination.

    3. Extending Conditional Offers of Employment:
      As part of the conditional offer, the candidate will be asked to complete the requisite documentation authorizing the University to conduct a background check inquiry. Failure to submit the completed authorization within the established period may delay the candidate’s start date and/or result in the withdrawal of the conditional offer.

  2. Post-Employment Disclosure of Criminal Convictions:
    1. Reporting Requirements for Current Employees:
      During the course of employment, any employee convicted for any crime (excluding moving traffic violations) has five (5) calendar days to report the conviction via the online employee conviction disclosure form (See Self- disclosure Form below). Employees whose responsibilities include the use of University-owned vehicles (see PRM-014, Use and Management of University-Owned Vehicles) must also report any moving traffic violation within five (5) calendar days of the citation.

      Upon receiving a disclosure, UVA Human Resources (UVA HR) may, if appropriate, refer the disclosure to the University’s Threat Assessment Team and other pertinent UVA offices to evaluate whether there is potential risk to warrant further action. In addition, if UVA HR determines that the disclosure constitutes a possible violation of University policy or could compromise the individual’s ability to effectively perform his/her job, UVA HR will contact the appropriate official in the school/unit and, if appropriate, the employee’s supervisor to discuss the possibility of further action. UVA may, given the nature of the conviction, place an employee on leave pending the outcome of its investigation. Depending on the facts and the employee's involvement in the events leading to a conviction, convictions reported to the employee’s department may, in accordance with University policy, result in discipline, up to and including termination.

    2. Self-Disclosure Form

    3. Evaluation and Action by UHR:
      Employee self-disclosures will be evaluated individually and will not necessarily affect employment. UVA HR will notify the employee's department of the conviction only if it is determined that the conviction is pertinent to the employee's ability to carry out the duties or functions of his or her position. Depending on the facts and the employee's involvement in the events leading to the conviction, convictions reported to the employee’s department may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination in accordance with the relevant University policies.

Related Information:

PRM-014, Use and Management of University-Owned Vehicles
Notice of Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity

Major Category: Human Resource Management
Category Cross Reference: Academic Administration
Next Scheduled Review: 03/02/2021
Approved by, Date: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, 03/02/2018
Revision History: Revised 3/5/18; Updated 6/17/15, 5/1/15.
Supersedes (previous policy):
HRM-034, Faculty Background Checks.