Purpose of Policy

            To protect the University, its faculty, staff, and students, and members of the public that have dealings with the University from suffering physical, emotional, and financial harm while also protecting the privacy of individuals who apply to University positions.   The policy is designed to enable the University to decline to hire any individual with a criminal conviction for a crime whose nature is judged to be sufficiently closely related to the position for which that person has applied such that hiring the person would be judged an unacceptable risk.  Furthermore, the policy is designed to comply with federal and state regulations regarding certain types of positions. 


The policy limits the application of background checks to those positions that entail particular risk.  Aside from positions covered by state and federal regulations, positions requiring background checks will be comparatively unusual such that a clear and present justification can be made for the background check.  In that spirit, the policy establishes procedures by which the decisions about whether or not to conduct a criminal background check will be made. 


Focus of Check

All Merit, Professional and Scientific, faculty, and student staff positions, temporary or regular, that have been designated security sensitive by the appropriate Dean or Vice President are checked at the time of hiring. 


Criteria and Process for Determining Whether a Position is Security-sensitive

There are two steps in determining whether a position should be designated as security sensitive.  First, at a minimum, the domains listed below should be considered for their relevance to the position; other domains also may be relevant.  Second, if a domain is considered relevant to a particular position, then a determination must be made regarding whether the access, contact, or responsibility is of such a level that the University or persons in the University community would be at sufficient risk that (a) mandatory criminal background check(s) on the selected candidate(s) for the position is/are warranted.  For example, a position might involve cash/check handling and/or processing responsibilities that were of such low dollar value as not to constitute a significant risk requiring a background check.


 Domains to be Considered

·        access to secured or sensitive areas including, but not limited to, those containing cash or financial receipts

·        access to select agents (biological agents or toxins) and/or controlled substances

·        patient and/or child and/or dependent adult population contact, not including University students who are under the age of 18

·        cash/check handling and/or processing responsibilities

·        financial management and/or payroll processing responsibilities

·        security responsibilities

·        performance of duties related to critical infrastructure services or significant health or safety responsibilities

·        access to information technology: “root” or “administrator” access level to enterprise systems, “administrator” access level to institutional databases, unsupervised physical access to critical infrastructure services or systems such as telephone switch equipment, networking routers and switches, and data centers

·        supervisory duties related to the above.


Scope of Check

The Senior Human Resources (HR) Leadership Representative in each college or division shall use the designated University vendor to verify Social Security Number and conduct a criminal background check to include all counties and states of residence for the past seven (7) years.  As appropriate in individual instances, an alternate designated by the Vice President or Dean or, in the case of faculty, the Assistant Director of Human Resources for Faculty, may conduct the check.  Individual departments, in consultation with the Senior HR Leadership Representative, may have more comprehensive background check guidelines.  Background checks for access to select agents will be conducted by the Department of Justice.


Designation, Notice and Timing of Check

1.      At the time of a vacancy, positions shall be evaluated by the hiring department in consultation with the Senior HR Leadership Representative and a written recommendation shall be made to the appropriate Dean or Vice President providing specific justification for the determination that the duties and responsibilities are such that the position should be designated security sensitive.  The Dean or Vice President shall determine whether or not the position is security sensitive and, if so, then the position shall be so indicated on the requisition.  For faculty positions, such determination shall be made also in consultation with the Office of the Provost.


2.      Candidates shall be informed at an appropriate point in the process that employment at the University of Iowa in this security-sensitive position is contingent on a declaration of conviction history and a successful criminal background check.  The department shall secure from each candidate a signed release for the University to conduct a criminal background check on the candidate(s) of choice.  Refusal to sign the release may constitute grounds for elimination from the candidate pool.  The release form can be downloaded at (URL).  Departments should inform candidates that the Declaration form will be requested of, and background check will be conducted on, only the candidate(s) of choice.   


3.      When a department has selected (a) candidate(s) to whom to make an offer, the department shall ask the candidate(s) to provide their conviction history to the Senior HR Leadership Representative (a stamped and addressed envelope should be provided for this purpose), and remind them that a background check will now be conducted.  Alternatively, for faculty, the form may be sent to the Assistant Director of Faculty Human Resources.  If desired, a history declaration form, which can be downloaded at (URL), may be used.


4.      The Senior HR Leadership Representative shall conduct (a) criminal background check(s) through the designated University vendor upon selection of the candidate(s) of choice and shall complete a standard check no later than 15 days following the candidate’s first day of employment.  A more comprehensive check may require a longer period of time.  In the case of faculty, the Assistant Director of Human Resources for Faculty may conduct the check.


5.      If the offer letter is given to the candidate of choice prior to completion of the background check, the offer letter shall reiterate that a criminal background check is being conducted and that University of Iowa employment in this security-sensitive position is contingent on its successful outcome.


Documentation and Record Keeping

1.      Departments shall identify on the human resources transaction (appointment or transfer) whether the criminal background check is required and, if so, whether it has been completed.


2.      HRIS departmental reports will indicate incomplete criminal background checks. Senior HR Leadership Representatives are responsible for reviewing these criminal background check reports on a bi-weekly basis and acting appropriately on incomplete checks.


3.      The Declaration form and materials acquired through a criminal background check shall be retained by the University only for those candidates who are hired or those who are not hired based on information acquired via the Form or the background check.


4.      The Office of the General Counsel, Hospital Human Resources and, in the case of Carver College of Medicine faculty, the collegiate Dean’s office, shall maintain all acquired and supporting documentation in a confidential and secure location.  Such records shall be retained for seven years in paper copy only and shall not be retained in any electronic file. 


5.      All acquired and supporting documentation is confidential information and individuals requesting access must provide compelling justification.  The General Counsel, President, Hospital HR, or designee(s) shall determine whether a request for access to acquired and supporting documentation shall be granted.


6.      University Human Resources and the Office of the Provost will conduct an annual audit on positions checked and scope of checks to ensure reasonable consistency between colleges and divisions.  The Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity will periodically conduct a review of the process in order to assess potential disparate impact for members of protected groups.


Existence of a Criminal Record

1.      When the background check reflects a criminal conviction, the Senior HR Leadership Representative, in consultation with University HR or, in the case of faculty, the Office of the Provost, shall evaluate the conviction in the context of all other available information, including the declared conviction history, to determine whether it is relevant to the specific job responsibilities of the position.  Such information in possession of the University for purposes of evaluating employment is not considered a public record and shall be treated as a confidential personnel matter.


2.      If a preliminary judgment is made that the conviction has sufficient nexus to the position to warrant further consideration, this information shall be discussed with the candidate to give the candidate a reasonable opportunity to provide clarifying information.  Typically, the candidate will be contacted by the Senior HR Leadership Representative, together with a representative of University HR, Hospital HR, the Office of the General Counsel, or the Office of the Provost.


3.      After the candidate has provided clarifying information (or has not done so after having had a reasonable opportunity to do so), the Senior HR Leadership Representative shall present the evaluation of the information to the Dean or Vice President.  The Dean or Vice President shall make a recommendation to University Human Resources (or the Office of the Provost, in the case of faculty) regarding whether the conviction is sufficiently closely related to the position to warrant denial of employment.  University Human Resources or, in the case of faculty, the Office of the Provost shall make the final decision on this issue in consultation with the college or division, as appropriate.


4.      If the final decision is that the conviction has significant nexus to the position such that the candidate will no longer be considered for employment, or if already employed should be terminated, the Senior HR Leadership Representative or the Dean/Vice President shall provide written notification to the candidate/employee immediately.