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Human Resources

Human Resources Administrative Practice Manual:
Employment

Print friendly Modified April 9, 2013

Background Investigation

Citation Reference  
Official Title Policy on Background Investigation
Abbreviated Title Background Checks
Volume Human Resources
Responsible Office Human Resources
Originally issued September 17, 2007
Revised March 15, 2010

Policy Statement

It shall be a condition of employment with any institution of the University System of Georgia to submit to a background investigation. Offers of employment shall be conditional pending the result of the background investigation, which shall include, at a minimum, the following:

  • A state and federal criminal history check covering a minimum of seven (7) years;
  • A nationwide sex offender search;
  • A social security number check; and
  • For all professional, faculty and academic positions, an academic credentials check.

Offers of employment for positions of trust may be conditional pending the result of a state and federal criminal history check covering more than the minimum of seven (7) years. Positions of trust are those that involve interaction with children, after-hours access to facilities, access to financial resources or that have been otherwise identified by the hiring official to require a more extensive background investigation.

A background investigation shall also be performed on any existing employee being transferred, reassigned, reclassified or promoted to a position of trust unless a background investigation conforming to this procedure has been performed on such employee on or after July 1, 2002. Any existing employee that is transferred, reassigned, reclassified or promoted into a position requiring a Purchase Card, when they have not been assigned a Purchase Card previously, must submit to a credit check. Existing cardholders are subject to a background check before next renewal of card.

An institution of the University System of Georgia may elect to perform reference checks and/or background investigations on part-time, student or temporary employees.

Reason for Policy

This policy ensures consistency among institutions of the University System as necessary for ensuring that we have the proper workforce.

Entities Affected By This Policy

All units of the University System of Georgia are covered by this policy; all employees are covered by this policy.

Who Should Read This Policy

All Human Resources personnel within the University System of Georgia should be aware of this policy; all employees and applicants for employment should be aware of this policy.

Contacts

Contact Phone Email/URL
Office of Human Resources 404-962-3235 usg-hr@usg.edu
Institution Chief Human Resources Officers See University System HR Officer Listing at http://www.usg.edu/hr/officers/

Website Address for This Policy

http://www.usg.edu/hr/manual/employment_applications/

Related Documents/Resources

Definitions

These definitions apply to these terms as they are used in this policy:

  • Board of Regents: The governing body of the University System of Georgia

  • Background Investigation: An investigation comprised of a criminal background check (including social security number check and, for positions with access to or responsibility for money and/or a Purchase Card, a credit check.), confirmation of credentials and confirmation of employment history.

  • Background Investigation Committee (BIC): The administrative committee charged with determining questions of suitability of hire. Each institution of the University System of Georgia shall form such a committee. It is suggested that such committee have a minimum of three members and not more than five members and include a representative from the institution’s Hiring Office, the applicable Hiring Department, the institution’s legal advisor (if on campus) and public safety department.

  • Consent Form: A form authorizing the institution to conduct a criminal background check. All employment finalists and promotion candidates at the institution are required to sign a Consent Form to be considered for employment with the University.

  • Hiring Department: The department hiring a new employee (whether internally or externally), or promoting an existing employee.

  • Hiring Office: The institution’s employment office that handles all new hires at the institution.

  • Hiring Official: An employee of the institution’s employment office that handles all new hires at the institution.

  • Position of Trust: Positions of trust are those that involve interaction with children, master access to facilities, access to financial resources, including but not limited to Purchase Cards, delivery of patient care and have access to patient information or that have been otherwise identified by the hiring institution.

Overview

This policy establishes the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia’s commitment to provide a qualified workforce. Applicants for employment are required to undergo a background investigation to determine their eligibility for employment.

Process/Procedures

Determining Employment Eligibility for Applicants with Criminal History

Only criminal convictions may be considered when determining a candidate’s eligibility for a specific position or employment as a whole. Detention and/or arrest without conviction do not constitute valid grounds for adverse employment decisions and do not play a part in the decision-making process. However, if an individual has a criminal case pending, his or her suitability for continued employment will be reviewed upon disposition of the case.

  1. Conviction of a criminal drug offense shall disqualify an individual for employment with the University System of Georgia.

    1. The first conviction shall disqualify a person for not less than two (2) years.
    2. Any person who has been convicted of a second or subsequent criminal drug offense shall be ineligible for employment or re-employment for a period of five (5) years from the most recent date of conviction.
  2. Felony convictions and convictions involving crimes of moral turpitude automatically disqualify an individual for employment with the University System of Georgia in a position of trust.

  3. Failing to disclose a criminal conviction history where required in employment application materials will disqualify a candidate for employment with an institution of the University System of Georgia.

  4. When determining whether a candidate with disclosed criminal convictions is eligible for employment or promotion, the Background Investigation Committee will consider the specific responsibilities of the position for which the candidate is being considered, the nature, number and gravity of crimes for which the candidate was convicted and the amount of time that has passed since the conviction. A determination of ineligibility for a specific position as the result of a criminal conviction does not necessarily mean that an individual is ineligible for all employment with the institution and each such determination will be made on a case by case basis.

Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Employment or Continued Employment or eligibility for a purchase card When Verifying Credit History

The following are guidelines for institutions to interpret the information obtained in the credit report for each applicant and/or existing employee. Each institution is expected to establish guidance that is in the range of the guidelines below.

  1. Student loans currently in default and bankruptcies should be considered bad credit, however, a bankruptcy followed by good credit established after filing, indicates an attempt to rectify past credit problems and may be considered acceptable if the bankruptcy occurred over three years ago.
  2. Credit reports indicating installments in excess of 40% of gross monthly income are not acceptable.
  3. One or more unpaid collections and judgments are considered to be bad credit. Collections and judgments appear under “Public Records.” Collections and judgments can be paid, marked paid or satisfied but will not be removed from the credit report for 7 years. If collections and judgments have been paid and all other credit is satisfactory, the institution may approve, at their discretion.
  4. Mitigating factors regarding an applicant’s credit report, such as hardships and disputes with creditors, will be considered by the institution upon submission of objective written evidence, as long as the evidence presented, in the sole opinion of the institution, represents reliable evidence beyond the applicant’s control.
  5. It is not the responsibility of the institution to discover research or verify that there are possible mitigating factors. The burden of proof to present mitigating factors rests entirely with the applicant.
  6. A determination of ineligibility for a specific position as the result of his or her credit report results does not necessarily mean that an individual is ineligible for all employment with the institution and each such determination will be made on a case by case basis.
  7. If the institution determines the employee is not eligible for employment, continued employment or to receive a purchase card, an adverse action notice must then be sent to the candidate. This notice must include:
    1. the name, address and telephone number of the company that supplied the Background Investigation report;
    2. a statement that the company that supplied the Background Investigation report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and
    3. a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information the company furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the company upon request within sixty days

Process for Conducting Background Investigation

Notice should be included in all job postings that finalists will be required to submit to a background investigation. The institution shall set guidelines for assigning the cost of performing a background investigation.

The Hiring Department is responsible for confirming the employment history and credentials of an applicant before having the Hiring Office initiate the Background Investigation and before extending an offer of employment. The Hiring Office shall give the Hiring Department all required employment paperwork, including the Consent Forms, to be given to the final candidate. With respect to the promotion of existing employees, the institution shall implement a procedure for obtaining the Consent Form from the employee prior to initiating the Background Investigation. A conditional offer of employment/promotion may be made at this time. Important: All offers of employment must be made in writing and must include the following statement: “This offer of employment is contingent upon completion of a background investigation including a criminal background check demonstrating your eligibility for employment with [the institution], as determined by [the institution] in its sole discretion, confirmation of the credentials and employment history reflected in your application materials and, if applicable, a satisfactory credit check.”

Upon receipt of a signed Consent Form of the Hiring Department’s selected candidate, the Hiring Office will initiate the Background Investigation into that candidate. If the top candidate is not hired for the involved position (e.g. criminal conviction precludes hiring, other criminal convictions render applicant ineligible for the specific position, candidate does not accept the job offer, etc.), the Hiring Department may select another candidate for the position. If the candidate next selected for the position has already signed the Consent Form, then the Hiring Office will immediately initiate the investigation process. If the next applicant identified as the Hiring Department’s top candidate has not signed a Consent Form, then the Hiring Office will initiate the Background Investigation as soon as the Hiring Department submits a signed Consent Form.

How Criminal Background Check Information is Processed:

Background Investigation reports are submitted directly to the Hiring Office by the entity performing the investigation. The BIC is responsible for determining the eligibility of the selected candidate for employment with the institution. The Hiring Office should notify the Hiring Department of this determination. The BIC makes its decision about the selected candidate’s eligibility as follows:

  1. The Background Investigation report shows no convictions: the selected candidate is eligible for employment.

  2. The Background Investigation report shows one or more felony convictions or conviction of one or more crimes of moral turpitude: the selected candidate is ineligible for employment with the institution in a position of trust.

    1. Prior to making this final determination, the Hiring Office must give a pre-adverse action disclosure to the candidate. This pre-adverse action disclosure must include a copy of the candidate’s Background Investigation report, together with the name, address and telephone number of the company that conducted the Background Investigation, and information on how to dispute information in the report. A copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” must also be provided to the candidate. This summary will be typically provided by the company performing the Background Investigation.

    2. The candidate must be given an opportunity (a minimum of three days) to provide an explanation in writing of the circumstances surrounding the results of the Background Investigation, including any mitigating factors, and have this explanation considered prior to the finalization of the hiring decision.

    3. If the candidate successfully shows that s/he has no felony convictions or convictions of crimes of moral turpitude, then the candidate shall be eligible for employment. The Hiring Office will notify the Hiring Department of this determination.

    4. If the candidate is unsuccessful in showing no felony convictions or convictions of crimes of moral turpitude, then the candidate is ineligible for employment in a position of trust. An adverse action notice must then be sent to the candidate. This notice must include:

      • the name, address and telephone number of the company that supplied the Background Investigation report;
      • a statement that the company that supplied the Background Investigation report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and
      • a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information the company furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the company upon request within sixty days.
  3. The Background Investigation report shows one or more criminal convictions and the applicant is not applying for a position of trust:

    1. The criminal convictions were all disclosed by the selected candidate in the application materials. The BIC will determine whether the candidate is eligible for the involved position based on the job description and the nature of the crimes for which the candidate was convicted.

      1. If the BIC determines the candidate is eligible, then the Hiring Office will so notify the Hiring Department.

      2. If the BIC determines the candidate is not eligible, then prior to making this final determination, the Hiring Office must give a pre-adverse action disclosure to the candidate.

        1. This pre-adverse action disclosure must include a copy of the candidate’s Background Investigation report, together with the name, address and telephone number of the company that conducted the Background Investigation, and information on how to dispute information in the report. A copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” must also be provided to the candidate. This summary will be typically provided by the company performing the Background Investigation.

        2. The candidate must be given an opportunity (a minimum of three days) to provide an explanation in writing of the circumstances surrounding the results of the Background Investigation, including any mitigating factors, and have this explanation considered prior to the finalization of the hiring decision.

        3. If the candidate successfully shows that s/he does not have the criminal convictions that led the BIC to determine that the candidate was ineligible for employment, then the candidate shall be eligible for employment. The Hiring Office will notify the Hiring Department of this determination.

        4. If the candidate is unsuccessful in showing that s/he does not have the criminal convictions that led the BIC to determine that the candidate was ineligible for employment, then the candidate is ineligible for employment. An adverse action notice must then be sent to the candidate. This notice must include:

          • the name, address and telephone number of the company that supplied the Background Investigation report;
          • a statement that the company that supplied the Background Investigation report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and
          • a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information the company furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the company upon request within sixty days.
    2. The criminal convictions were not disclosed by the selected candidate in the application materials. The Hiring Office will notify the candidate in writing that the Background Investigation revealed criminal convictions not disclosed in his/her application materials and that s/he will removed from consideration for the involved position due to misrepresentation and falsifying application materials unless s/he contacts the Hiring Office and corrects any inaccuracies contained in the report within a minimum of three (3) days. This notification will be accompanied by a pre-adverse action disclosur

      1. The pre-adverse disclosure must include a copy of the candidate’s Background Investigation report, together with the name, address and telephone number of the company that conducted the Background Investigation, and information on how to dispute the information in the report. A copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” must also be provided to the candidate. This summary will be typically provided by the company performing the Background Investigation.

      2. The candidate must be given an opportunity (a minimum of three days) to provide an explanation in writing of the circumstances surrounding the results of the Background Investigation, including any mitigating factors, and have this explanation considered prior to the finalization of the hiring decision.

      3. If the candidate successfully shows that s/he has no criminal convictions, then the candidate shall be eligible for employment. The Hiring Office will notify the Hiring Department of this determination.

      4. If the candidate is unsuccessful in showing no criminal convictions, then the candidate is ineligible for employment due to misrepresentation and falsifying application materials. An adverse action notice must then be sent to the candidate. This notice must include:

        • the name, address and telephone number of the company that supplied the Background Investigation report;
        • a statement that the company that supplied the Background Investigation report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and
        • a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information the company furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the company upon request within sixty days.
  4. It is not the responsibility of the institution to discover research or verify that there are possible mitigating factors. The burden of proof to present mitigating factors rests entirely with the applicant.

A copy of his or her report shall be given to each applicant and/or employee as applicable.

Arrests and Convictions

Any current employee charged with a crime (other than a minor traffic offense) shall report being charged with such crime to the Hiring Office within 72 hours of the employee becoming aware of such charge. Failure to report being charged with such a crime may result in appropriate disciplinary action, including termination of employment. The Hiring Office shall review the nature of the crime and make a determination on what, if any, action should be taken regarding the employee’s employment status until resolution of the charge.

Any current employee who is convicted of a crime (other than a minor traffic offense) shall report such conviction to the Hiring Office within 24 hours of the conviction. Failure to report such conviction may result in appropriate disciplinary action, including termination of employment. The BIC shall review the nature of the crime and make a determination on what, if any, action should be taken regarding the employee’s employment status. The BIC shall review the crime utilizing the same standards as it applies in reviewing crimes committed by a candidate for employment but may consider other factors, including the length of employment of the employee and performance reviews.

Responsibilities

The responsibilities each party has in connection with the Policy on Background Investigation are:

Party Responsibility
Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, USG Provide guidance to Institution Chief Human Resource Officers and hiring departments to ensure compliance with policy.
Institution Chief Human Resources Officers Ensure background investigations are conducted and acted upon in compliance with policy.
Chief Legal Affairs Officer, USG Provide guidance to Institution Chief Human Resource Officers and hiring departments to ensure compliance with policy.

Forms

Appendices

None


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