9.3 Criminal Background Check at Point of Hire

(12/1/05; 3/08; 1/14/13; 11/13; 7/15; 8/15; 9/17; 8/1/23)

Effective August 1, 2023, this policy has been revised. For individual changes, see the redlined version

  1. Purpose of policy. To protect the University, its faculty, staff, and students, and members of the public who have dealings with the University from physical, emotional, and/or financial harm while also protecting the privacy of individuals who apply to University positions. The University may refuse to hire any individual with a criminal conviction that relates to the position for which that person has applied such that hiring the person is determined to pose an unacceptable risk. Furthermore, the policy is designed to comply with federal and state regulations regarding certain types of positions.
  2. Criminal background checks (CBCs) are obtained for all regular merit, professional and scientific, and faculty positions at the time applicants are selected for hire per paragraph e(2) below. Applicants for temporary merit, professional and scientific, fixed-term faculty, and student staff (including graduate teaching and research assistant) positions that have been designated security sensitive by the appropriate dean or vice president also are checked at the time of hire. Background check processes for some positions (such as those within Campus Safety) are governed by law or regulation. This policy is not intended to supplant any such external background check requirements.Departments conducting such externally required background checks should coordinate with the senior human resources (HR) leader to ensure that due process is afforded, similar to the procedures outlined in this policy.
  3. Criteria and process for determining whether a temporary, fixed-term, or student staff position is security sensitive. There are two steps in determining whether a temporary, fixed-term, or student staff position should be designated as security sensitive, thereby requiring a CBC:
    1. At the time of a temporary staff, fixed-term faculty, or student staff vacancy, positions shall be evaluated by the hiring department in consultation with the senior human resources (HR) leader or associate dean in each college or division, 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 fixed-term faculty positions, such determination shall be made in consultation with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.
    2. At a minimum, the factors listed below should be considered for their relevance to the position; other factors also may be relevant.
    3. If a factor 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 CBC on selected applicants for the position is warranted.
    4. Factors to be considered:
      1. access to secured or sensitive areas including, but not limited to, those containing cash or financial receipts;
      2. access to select agents (biological agents or toxins) and/or controlled substances;
      3. patient and/or child and/or dependent adult population contact, not including University students who are under the age of 18 (see also Youth Programs Policy Manual and Sports Camps and Clinics Manual);
      4. cash/check handling and/or processing responsibilities;
      5. financial management and/or payroll processing responsibilities;
      6. security responsibilities;
      7. performance of duties related to critical infrastructure services or significant health or safety responsibilities;
      8. 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; access to restricted or critical data (as defined in the Institutional Data Policy);
      9. supervisory duties related to any one or more of the above.
  4. Scope of check. The senior HR leader in each college or division shall use the designated University vendor to verify social security number, conduct a CBC to include all counties, states, and countries1 of residence for the past seven years, and search the sex offender registry regardless of conviction date. As appropriate in individual instances, an alternate vendor designated by the vice president or dean or, in the case of faculty, the associate provost for faculty, may conduct the check. Background checks for access to select agents will be conducted by the Department of Justice.
  5. Designation, notice, and timing of check.
    1. Applicants subject to the CBC requirement shall be informed either in the postings/advertisements for the position or when the applicant formally applies for the position that employment at The University of Iowa is contingent on a self-disclosure of conviction history and a successful CBC.
    2. When a department has selected (an) applicant(s) to whom to make an offer, the department will extend a written offer of employment contingent upon successful completion of a criminal background check. Upon acceptance of the offer, the hiring department shall direct the applicant(s) to complete a notification and authorization for release of information electronically, including the applicant’s self-disclosure of any criminal convictions for the past seven years. Refusal to complete and sign the release may constitute grounds for withdrawal of the offer or termination of employment. 
    3. Following the applicant’s acceptance of the contingent offer of employment and execution of the release, the senior HR leader shall conduct (a) CBC(s) through the designated University vendor by submitting a request to the vendor for a standard CBC as soon as practicable but in any event no later than 15 calendar days following the applicant's first day of employment. 
    4. The CBC report will include the past seven years of the applicant’s criminal conviction history and is sent to the senior HR leader.
  6. Documentation and record keeping.
    1. Departments shall identify on the human resources transaction (appointment or transfer) whether the CBC is required and, if so, whether it has been completed.
    2. Human Resources departmental reports will indicate incomplete CBCs. Senior HR leaders are responsible for reviewing these CBC reports regularly and acting appropriately on incomplete checks to ensure submission of the CBC request within 15 calendar days following the applicant's first day of employment.
    3. The release, self-disclosure form, CBC report, and other materials related to a CBC, including communications from the applicant about the report, shall be known as the “CBC records.” CBC records shall be retained by the University only for those applicants who are hired and those who are not hired based on information acquired during the CBC process.
    4. University Human Resources, UI Health Care HR, and senior HR leaders shall maintain CBC records regarding applicants for staff positions for five years in a confidential and secure location. The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost shall maintain CBC records regarding applicants for faculty positions in the same manner and for the same period.
    5. All CBC records are confidential, and individuals other than the applicant/employee requesting access must provide a compelling justification. The General Counsel, Executive Vice President and Provost, Chief Human Resources Officer, or designee(s) shall determine whether a request for access to CBC records shall be granted.
    6. Every three years, University Human Resources, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the Office of Institutional Equity will conduct an audit on positions checked and scope of checks to ensure reasonable consistency among colleges and divisions. In addition, these units will consult at least every three years with the Office of the General Counsel to assess potential disparate impact on members of protected classifications.
  7. Existence of a criminal record.
    1. Subject to the circumstance described below, when the background check reflects a criminal conviction, the senior HR leader shall  consult with:
      1. For staff positions outside of UI Health Care, University HR and the Office of the General Counsel; 
      2. For UI Health Care staff positions, UI Health Care HR and  the Office of the General Counsel; 
      3. For faculty positions, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Office of the General Counsel; and also may consult the associate dean for faculty for the college.

        These offices shall consider the conviction(s) to evaluate relevance to the specific job responsibilities of the position and whether hiring the person may constitute an unacceptable risk to the University. Specifically, the University will consider the nature, gravity, recency, and frequency of convictions and the nature of the job duties. University HR, the Office of the General Counsel, and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost may establish guidelines authorizing the senior HR leader to approve a hire without consulting the designated central administration offices in cases where a single, minor conviction is discovered. 
    2. If a preliminary judgment is made that the conviction has sufficient nexus to the position and that the hire may present an unacceptable risk such that further consideration is warranted, this information shall be shared with the applicant and  the applicant will be given a reasonable opportunity to provide clarifying information. Typically, the applicant  will be contacted by the senior HR leader for that purpose.
    3. After the applicant has provided clarifying information (or has not done so after having had a reasonable opportunity to do so), the senior HR leader shall present the the applicant's information to the central offices listed above for further evaluation of the nexus to the position and whether hiring the person may constitute an unacceptable risk such that denial of employment is warranted. University Human Resources or, in the case of faculty, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost shall make the final decision on this issue.
    4. If the final decision is that the conviction has significant nexus to the position and that the hire may present an unacceptable risk such that the applicant will no longer be considered for employment, or if already employed should be terminated, the senior HR leader shall provide written notification to the applicant/employee immediately. 


1. CBCs will be requested from international jurisdictions, but the ability to obtain records varies.