UW–Madison complies with the Board of Regent policy on conducting criminal background checks on applicants for employment, certain current employees, and certain volunteers.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration
Director of the Office of Workforce Relations
UW–Madison will comply with the Board of Regent policy that UW institutions conduct a criminal background check on applicants for employment, certain current employees, and certain volunteers. In addition, UW–Madison will satisfy the criminal background check requirement for certain vendors/contractors, and certain users and lessees of university lands and facilities.
The Board of Regents adopted a resolution on December 8, 2006 that requires the implementation of a UW System-wide criminal background check policy for new employees and current employees moving to positions of trust. On December 7, 2012, the Board of Regents amended the resolution to require criminal background checks be conducted on current employees and volunteers holding a “position of trust with access to vulnerable populations” as defined in section VII of this revised policy who have not previously been subject to such a criminal background check by the University. Employees and volunteers holding a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations shall also be subject to a criminal background check every four years, except that employees and volunteers with duties involving contact with minors in precollege camps (multi-day and overnight programs) shall be subject to a criminal background check every two years. Employees and volunteers with access to vulnerable populations or who have duties involving contact with minors in precollege camps shall be required to self-disclose certain criminal offenses. The UW System-wide policy also requires each institution to develop procedures for implementing the policy. This document comprises those procedures for UW–Madison.
There are state and federal laws and regulations that require criminal background checks in certain circumstances. The UW System-wide criminal background check policy and these UW–Madison procedures do not replace these mandates. The most common mandates are listed below. There are other mandates that apply to a small number of very specific positions not listed here (e.g., police officers, nuclear reactor operators, commercial drivers).
UW–Madison divisions will incorporate the following steps into their hiring and selection process. This applies to all vacancies except when hires are made in student hourly, employee-in-training, and LTE appointments or when employees move from another UW campus or state agency, unless the vacancy involves a position of trust. If an individual is returning to the UW after less than a one-year absence, it is not required that a new check be done unless the employee is moving to a position of trust.
Note: the UW requirement to conduct criminal background checks does not apply to non-employee appointments such as Fellows and Postdoctoral Fellows unless required by law or is defined as a position of trust.
In most cases, only the finalist being offered the position will be checked. However, there may be circumstances where more than one applicant is checked (e.g., chancellor, dean, or provost search).
“This offer of employment is conditional pending the results of a criminal background check. If the results are unacceptable, the offer will be withdrawn or, if you have started employment, your employment will be terminated.”
However, under no circumstances can an individual start employment in a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations without a completed criminal background check.
UW–Madison divisions shall perform criminal background checks on prospective volunteers when the volunteer position involved is a position of trust, or when required by law. In making this determination, consideration should be given to the level of direct supervision and guidance provided to volunteers and the nature of the duties of the volunteer position. Criminal background checks must be conducted on current volunteers who have not previously been subject to a criminal background check by the University, and that hold a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations as defined in section VII of this policy. A criminal background check must be performed every four years on volunteers in a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations or every two years on volunteers who have contact with minors in a precollege camp.
To the maximum extent feasible, any agreement with a vendor or contractor whose employees, affiliates, or volunteers will have routine or unsupervised access to vulnerable populations (minors or medical patients) in the course of the contract must include a representation from the vendor or contractor stating that these employees, affiliates, or volunteers have satisfied a criminal background check that includes a national criminal background check database. Divisions will need to identify those vendors/contractors who fall under this policy and subsequently work with Purchasing Services, Office of Legal Affairs, and the Office of Human Resources to ensure compliance.
Facilities use agreements or leases with outside organizations that use or lease University lands and facilities to operate multi-day programs for minors, or programs for minors that involve an overnight stay, must include a representation from the organization that its employees, affiliates, or volunteers have satisfied a criminal background check that includes a national criminal background check database. Divisions will need to identify those agreements or leases and subsequently work with Office of Legal Affairs and the Office of Human Resources to ensure compliance.
Defined as a paid or volunteer position with one or more of the following responsibilities.
Employees and volunteers holding a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations shall be subject to a criminal background check every four years, except that employees and volunteers with access to minors in a precollege camp shall be subject to a criminal background check every two years. Regardless of whether an individual has previously passed a criminal background check by the University, an individual who will hold a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations must pass a check that evaluates whether the individual is suitable for contact with vulnerable populations or minors. (e.g., a faculty member who has passed a background check that did not evaluate suitability for access to children must pass an additional check prior to working/volunteering for a precollege camp.)
* For purposes of this policy precollege camp is defined as multi-day or overnight activity for minors (individuals under the age of 18), except for activities falling into any of the categories below.
Note - Individuals who are not subject to 2-year checks under items 1-4 above may still be subject to 4-year checks if they have access to vulnerable populations and/or are subject to the Wisconsin Caregiver law.
[See Attachment 1: Determining When a Criminal Background Check is Required]
Self Reporting Requirement - Employees and volunteers holding a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations, as defined in section VII of this policy, are required to report any criminal arrests, charges, or convictions (excluding misdemeanor traffic offenses punishable only by fine) to the appropriate Background Check Coordinator (BCC), within twenty-four (24) hours or at the earliest possible opportunity. Failure to make the required report constitutes a violation of this policy and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. Divisions must provide notification of this requirement to employees covered by this provision.
Criminal background checks will be conducted and managed within the divisions. The following process and roles will be built into how criminal background checks are conducted and what actions are taken. For purposes of this policy and these procedures, “conviction” includes pleas of guilty and no contest.
[See Attachment 2: Notification to Candidate when using vendor electronic consent process.]
[See Attachment 3: Consent Form – when not using online consent process.]
Divisions may decide to obtain consent at the time of application depending on the type of recruitment. Typically, the check is conducted only on the person selected for the job or as a volunteer, however divisions may decide that they want to conduct a check on all finalists. The completed consent form(s) should always be sent from the finalist(s) to the BCC without involvement of the hiring manager. If the consent is secured via a hard-copy consent form, the BCC should enter it into the vendor’s system. Both processes will require the applicant to self-disclose whether he/she has ever been convicted of a crime or is currently facing criminal charges.
An applicant’s or volunteer’s failure to consent to a criminal background check or falsification of any related information is grounds for the rejection of the applicant or volunteer.
As of December 2, 2013, General Information Services (GIS) is the private vendor under contract to conduct criminal background checks.
[See Attachment 4: Social Security Adverse Action Template]
Individuals who have recently arrived in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa (e.g., H-1, J, etc.) or who have recently received a change in their visa status that permits them to work may not yet have a social security number at the time of hire. In such instances, the BCC will perform the standard criminal background check in GIS (social security number will not be entered in these situations).
Note – For periodic review requirement on current employees who have access to vulnerable population or are moving into a Position of Trust, there will be an expedited criminal background check that would run the national criminal background check database search for the last four (4) years only. Based on the results GIS will check any counties that are identified in that search. The check will also conduct the Wisconsin Court Access System, Wisconsin DOJ and the GIS national criminal/sex offender search for a four (4) year time period. This is done to eliminate some expenses of going back to records more than four (4) years.
Note: The social security trace conducted by the vendor will not find places of residence outside of the U.S. The BCC should use all available information to determine whether the individual has lived in other countries. Appropriate sources of this information include a resume or curriculum vitae.
It is imperative that no consideration be given to these matters and they not be communicated by the BCC in any way.
An exception exists for tickets or fines for traffic, rule or municipal ordinance violations. These are not crimes, but can be considered if the offense is substantially related to the job e.g., a DUI ticket (first offense) for an applicant for a position that requires driving.
The existence of a conviction is not an automatic exclusion from employment. Wisconsin’s Fair Employment Act prohibits employers from discriminating against prospective or current employees based on pending criminal charges or convictions unless the “pending criminal charge” or “conviction record” is determined to be “substantially” related to the “circumstances of the particular job.” Arrests (other than pending) or detention orders that do not result in convictions or pleas and expunged convictions cannot be considered.
If there concerns about the results of the CBC, the University has created a Criminal Background Check Review Panel, comprised of staff from the Office for Equity and Diversity, the Classified Human Resources office and the Academic Personnel Office, that will review all crimes and pending arrests to determine whether there is a substantial relationship. In reviewing the results of a criminal background check, the panel will consider the following factors in order to determine whether there is a substantial relationship between the pending charge or conviction and the position and whether the applicant should be further considered for the position.
The Offense. The nature, severity and intentionality of the offense(s) including but not limited to:
The Position. The duties, responsibilities and circumstances of the position, including but not limited to:
The Individual. The individual’s record of performance and behavior on recent jobs at UW–Madison or elsewhere.
The criminal background check policy and procedures do not change the usual decision-making authority for hires, which varies by division and by type of employee. For example, nothing in this policy usurps or diminishes an academic department’s existing authority in making faculty hiring decisions.
Once the criminal background check is completed, the BCC shall review the results and act as follows.
The BCC shall keep the background check results confidential except on a need-to-know basis.
If a decision is tentatively made not to hire an applicant, to withdraw an offer or take action with an existing employee, or to reject a volunteer based upon the results of the background check, the BCC will be responsible for notifying the individual of the results of the check and the dispute and/or reconsideration process.
[See Attachment 6: Adverse Action Template]
[See Attachment 7: Disputing Criminal Charges on CBC Template]
[See Attachment 8: Requesting Reconsideration of Panel’s Decision Template]
These dispute and reconsideration processes were created to be in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Records gathered as a result of a criminal background check will be kept by the BCC in files segmented by applicant, employee, or volunteer name. These records will include:
Alternatively, these records may be maintained in a secure university or vendor on-line data base.
The records will be securely maintained for a period of seven (7) years after the position has been filled or action has been taken against an employee or volunteer. Records will be destroyed after seven years from the position being filled including the records of the applicant that was hired.
The BCC and the University will maintain the criminal background check records as confidential to the extent allowed by law. Although most records are obtained from public sources, the records may contain very sensitive information and BCCs are required to respect individuals’ privacy by only sharing any information obtained on a strict need-to-know basis.
This campus policy should not prevent divisions from implementing their own criminal background check procedures that are specific to their environment. However, the division practice must meet the requirements of the campus policy and be approved by the chancellor or designee before being implemented.
Nothing in this policy shall be construed to prevent UW–Madison, with a reasonable basis, from obtaining at any time criminal background check information on any current employee or volunteer. Such checks are unusual and prior approval must be obtained from either the Academic Personnel Office or the Classified Human Resources office.
Any questions related to this policy, including interpretations and resource locations, should be directed to the human resources representative within the college/school/division.
Authority: Regent Policy #20-19, Resolution 9276, adopted 12/08/06, amended effective 12/07/2012
Other Supporting Tools for this policy have been moved. Please contact Workforce Relations if you have questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.