UI Trustees Prepare To Vote On Employee Background Checks

August 27, 2015

University of Illinois Trustees will vote next month on a policy expanding background checks to cover all new hires throughout the 3-campus system - not just those applying for “security-sensitive” positions, like those who handle areas like university finances or involve working with minors.  The school will check criminal databases, but there are no lists that will automatically exlude a potential employee.

Members of the Trustees Governance, Personnel, and Ethics Committee Thursday heard how the process would be carried out.  The background checks would only be done once a candidate had been chosen for hiring.

Associate Vice President for Human Resources Maureen Parks said the U of I will look through state and county criminal databases, and sex offender registries to conduct the checks.

But Parks says there are no lists that automatically exclude a potential employee, that each hire should be a case by case assessment.

“When there is a hit, we will look at things like – what are the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense, what was the length of time since the offense was committed, was it 30 years ago… and there’s not been anything since, was it last year?," she said.  "How old was the person when they were convicted?”

Parks said the policy will also look at the length and consistency of a candidate’s employment before and after a conviction, as well as rehabilitation efforts. 

U of I Trustee Patrick Fitzgerald, a former federal prosecutor, said the policy should ensure those who are entitled to a second chance will get one.

“My understanding is, we are trying to make sure we’re aware of all relevant information," he said.  "We are not seeking to pass a blanket policy that says – if you were arrested, if you served time, even in prison, that is not an automatic disqualifier.”

Parks said the university is working with legal counsel and modeling the policy after those in practice at other Big Ten Schools.

U of I Trustees will vote on the new background check policy at their meeting in Urbana September 10th.  If approved, it would take effect October 5th. 

Parks said the U of I’s legal counsel will continue to assess the plan to see if any changes are needed.

Story source: WILL