Penn State sent out a press release today, July 5, 2012, which unveils its new background check policy. The new policy will require all job candidates and employees working on campus through third parties to undergo a comprehensive background check before they can be approved to work on the campus or for the school.
Prior to this, the University had three policies, which have now been combined into one, “HR99.” HR99 sets for a more comprehensive policy than what had previously been adopted and it establishes procedures to insure compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as well as the new guidance set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The background checks will be looking for criminal records as well as any potential child abuse claims. Depending on the job, they will be looking to screen for motor vehicle records, educational credentials and previous employment history. In addition, employees at the University who have been previously checked will have to undergo the process again if they are considered to be in “sensitive/critical” positions. Those positions include people with access to personal or sensitive information, such as auditors, the registrar, and HR/payroll staff.
Employees of Penn State will now be required to “self report” any arising criminal charges. For example, if they are arrested for a crime listed in the policy, they have to inform Human Resources within 72 hours of the arrest or crime by completing a proper form. Any employee who fails to “self report” can be disciplined and even terminated.
The old policy only covered background checks for employees in “academic appointments” and “other-than-academic appointments.” Moving forward, it appears that every employee, even unpaid interns will be subject to a background check prior to employment.
Susan Basso, associate vice president for Human Resources stated, “To provide the safest possible environment for our students, faculty, staff and visitors, it is imperative that Penn State implements consistent and thorough background check procedures. This policy will help the University make sound hiring decisions and also will help minimize risk for the University.”