UW System Administration is committed to providing a safer environment for its workforce and visitors.
UW System Administration shall conduct a criminal background check on each new hire and on current employees in positions of trust with access to vulnerable populations, except as otherwise provided in this policy.
- A ‘new hire’ shall be defined as any prospective employee that is not currently a UW System Administration employee. Current UW System Administration employees who are moving to a position within UW System Administration through transfer, promotion, or otherwise, will not be subject to a criminal background check unless such a check is otherwise required by law (e.g., the fiduciary responsibility law or caregiver law), the majority of the position’s duties will be performed within residential facilities, or it is the practice of UW System Administration to conduct criminal background checks on current UW System Administration and UW System employees who are candidates for certain positions of trust.
- UW System Administration will conduct background checks for all vacancies with the exception of positions filled by a vendor or contractor; hourly student employees; interns; and unpaid volunteers. These positions will be reviewed on a case by case basis to determine if the position is a position of trust. Any position in an exception job category with job duties covered by the Wisconsin Caregiver Law, Fiduciary Responsibility Law, or a similar law requiring a criminal background check, or that is determined to be a position of trust requires a background check.
- 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 conducted by a criminal background check vendor selected by the contractor that includes a check of the vendor’s proprietary national criminal background check database.
- “Position of trust” is defined as a paid or volunteer position with one or more of the following responsibilities:
- Accesses to vulnerable populations – Responsibilities require unsupervised or significant access to vulnerable populations, defined as minors and medical patients. For purposes of this policy, a minor is a person under the age of eighteen (18) who is not enrolled or accepted for enrollment at a UW System institution. Examples of settings with vulnerable populations include child care centers, summer camps for minors, precollege or enrichment programs, and health care facilities. This category also includes employees who are not directly working in those units, but have unsupervised access to the unit when the vulnerable population is present. This category does not include faculty or instructional academic staff performing regular teaching, service, and research responsibilities unless these responsibilities include unsupervised or significant access to vulnerable populations.
- Property accesses – Responsibilities require the use of master keys/card access and pertain to employees with key access to offices, facilities or worksites other than their own worksite, including UW residential housing facilities.
- Financial/fiduciary duty – Principal responsibilities (50% or more) require handling, receiving, or having custody of money, checks or securities, or accounting for supplies or other property; authorizing (or making appropriations for) expenditures; approving, certifying, signing or countersigning checks, drafts, warrants, vouchers, orders or other documents providing for the paying over or delivery of money, securities, supplies or other property, or service of process; maintaining or auditing accounts of money, checks, securities, time records, supplies, or other property, or taking physical inventories of money, checks, securities, supplies, or other property.
- Executive positions – Responsibilities involve top-level management functions throughout UW System Administration. Executive positions are defined as all limited appointments and include any movement from a limited appointment to a different limited appointment.
- Criminal background checks must be conducted on current employees holding a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations, as defined in the above paragraphs of this policy, who have not previously been subject to a criminal background check by the University. UW System Administration will conduct a criminal background check every four years on employees in positions of trust with access to vulnerable populations. Employees in these positions are required to self-disclose any criminal arrests, charges, or convictions (excluding misdemeanor traffic offenses punishable only by fine) to human resources within twenty-four (24) hours or at the earliest possible opportunity. Failure to make the required report may constitute a violation and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
- Criminal background checks must be conducted on volunteers holding a position of trust with access to vulnerable populations, as defined in the above paragraphs of this policy, who have not previously been subject to a criminal background check by the University. UW System Administration will conduct a criminal background check every four years on volunteers in positions of trust with access to vulnerable populations. Volunteers in these positions are required to self-disclose any criminal arrests, charges, or convictions (excluding misdemeanor traffic offenses punishable only by fine) to human resources within twenty-four (24) hours or at the earliest possible opportunity. Failure to make the required report may constitute a violation and may result in action, up to and including dismissal
- Criminal background checks must be conducted on employees currently not in a position of trust who are seeking to move to a position of trust.
- Criminal background checks shall be conducted on candidates recommended for hire, either prior to the extension of an offer of employment, or as part of an offer of employment that is made contingent upon a successful criminal background check. In some cases, the criminal background checks may be done on a group of finalists. Individuals may not commence employment until they have successfully completed a criminal background check, except under special circumstances.
- If an individual being considered for a position has a criminal conviction or pending charge, the UW System Administration will apply the factors listed in Section 3, below, to determine if there is a substantial relationship between the offense and the new job responsibilities. If a substantial relationship exists, the UW System Administration may decide that this individual should not be employed in that position. In such case, if an offer has already been extended or, due to the presence of special circumstances as described in the preceding bullet or otherwise, employment has commenced, the offer will be rescinded and the appointment terminated.
- Information collected in connection with the background check will be treated confidentially to the extent permitted by the Wisconsin Public Records Act and other applicable laws. UW System Human Resources will be designated as responsible for all aspects of managing criminal background checks.
- UW System Administration will comply with the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act and other applicable laws to ensure individuals are not discriminated against because of arrest or conviction records.
1. Recruitment and Hiring
- Announcing a Vacancy – Announcements should contain a statement to notify potential applicants that employment in the identified position will require a criminal
- Offering a Position – Criminal background checks may be completed prior to making an offer of employment. If a check is not completed before an offer is made, the check must be completed prior to commencement of employment, except in special cases approved by the UW System Human Resources Director or designee. In most cases, only the applicant being offered the position will be checked. However, there may be circumstances where more than one applicant is checked. If an appointment is offered contingent on the successful completion of a criminal background check, or an employee is permitted upon approval of the UW System Human Resources or designee to commence employment pending completion of a check, the appointment letter must state the appointment will be withdrawn or terminated if the individual’s criminal background check results are unacceptable.
- Consent –An applicant’s failure to consent to a criminal background check or falsification of any related information is grounds for the rejection of the applicant. These procedures also apply for current employees, volunteers, and prospective volunteers who are subject to criminal background checks.
2. Conducting Criminal Background Checks
A criminal background check on prospective hires, employees and volunteers must include a check of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Crime Information Bureau electronic database, and a check provided by a criminal background check vendor that includes the following components:
- Social Security Number Trace – Authenticates the individual’s information and generates a list of addresses the individuals has lived at for the last seven years; as part of the trace, the University may verify that the social security number is valid and appropriately assigned to the individual.
- Criminal Felony/Misdemeanor by County of Residence – superior and municipal court records search in any county in the U.S. in which the individual has resided in the last seven years.
- Sex Offender Registry – sex offender search by state.
- National Criminal Background Database – search of the vendor’s proprietary national criminal background check database.
University officials will have certain additional duties under the Federal Fair Credit reporting Act when retaining a vendor to perform criminal background checks.
Additional criminal and non-criminal checks (e.g. motor vehicle, etc.) may be run when appropriate to the relation to the position.
In addition to the appropriate U.S. criminal background check that will be conducted for a new hire, current employee, or volunteer who is a foreign national and subject to this policy, a criminal background check in the individual’s prior country(ies) of residence will also be conducted if his/her country(ies) of residence provides criminal background checks for the time period during which the individual was a resident. A media search is not considered an appropriate criminal background check.
3. Making the Decision Regarding Substantial Relationship
Wisconsin law prohibits an employer from discriminating against an applicant or employee on the basis of arrest or conviction record unless the pending criminal charge or conviction substantially relates to the circumstances of the position. Applicants with a criminal history will not be automatically disqualified from UW System Administration employment, and a UW System Administration employee’s criminal history will not result in automatic disciplinary action or dismissal. If an applicant’s or employee’s criminal background check reveals a pending criminal charge or criminal conviction, the University of Wisconsin System Administration will engage in an individual analysis to determine whether a substantial relationship exists between the pending charge or criminal conviction and the functions of the position.
4. Candidate Notification of Negative Results
If a candidate is not selected based on the criminal background check results, the results will be provided and the candidate will be given a three working day time period to refute the information. Additional time extensions may be provided.
5. Keeping Records
Records gathered as a result of a criminal background check will be kept by UW System Human Resources in a secure environment. The files will be maintained separately from an applicant/employee’s general personnel records. The records will be securely maintained for a period of seven years after the position has been filled, and may be accessed only on a need-to-know basis or as required by applicable law.
These records will include:
- Information collected from the check
- Analysis and decision whether criminal activity (if any) was substantially related to position
- Correspondence related to criminal background check
6. Other Background Checks/Evaluations
As noted previously, other types of background checks and/or evaluations may be utilized due to the nature of particular positions. Examples include checks required under Wisconsin”s Caregiver Law (Wisconsin Statutes, Chapters 48 and 50) and Fiduciary Responsibility Law (Wisconsin Statutes, Section 230.17(3)). Additionally, the nature of certain positions could involve the need to conduct non-criminal background checks such as drug analyses, psychological evaluations, and credit checks. Nothing in this policy precludes the UW System Administration with a reasonable basis from conducting criminal background checks (criminal and non-criminal) on an as-needed basis on any current employee or volunteer.
Any questions related to this policy, including interpretations and resource locations, should be directed to UW System Human Resources (608) 263-4375.