I. Purpose

The purpose of this Background Check Policy ("Policy") is to establish the background check requirements and processes for University of Colorado Boulder ("CU-Boulder") prospective employees, current employees, and certain volunteers and contractors to protect employees, students, and assets.

This Policy is written in accordance with Administrative Policy Statement 5050 "Background Checks" effective January 1, 2011. This version supersedes any previous version of this policy and procedure.

Any questions regarding this Policy should be directed to the Background Check Coordinator in the Department of Human Resources at 303/492-6475.

II. Definitions

  1. Applicants are current, former, or prospective employees who submit information to be considered for positions at CU-Boulder, including individuals not currently employed by CU-Boulder, and current CU-Boulder employees seeking promotional or transfer opportunities to different positions.  This Policy shall apply to all Applicants for the following types of positions at CU- Boulder:
    1. All full and part-time faculty members, including Research Associate series, Lecturers and Instructors;
    2. All Officers;
    3. All classified staff members including classified staff transferring from other state agencies or institutions of higher education;
    4. All university staff.
    5. Student employees, including student assistants, research assistants and teaching assistants, meeting the definition of Security-Sensitive;
    6. Pre-doctoral and Post-doctoral fellows.
    7. Temporary position employees who are in a faculty, officer, university staff or classified staff position of a short-term nature (e.g. six months, semester, academic year, etc.) that generally do not have continuing funding; and
    8. Anyone else CU-Boulder employs.
  2. Background Check means the process of gathering and reviewing criminal history records, financial history records, the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS), and/or motor vehicle records.
  3. Background Check Coordinator refers to the position in Human Resources primarily responsible for providing guidance, interpretation and implementation of this Policy.
  4. Conviction means a guilty verdict, a guilty plea or a plea of Nolo Contendere ("No Contest") of felony or misdemeanor, other than minor traffic offenses.
  5. Criminal History Check means the process of gathering and reviewing criminal history records or information furnished by a criminal justice agency or third party vendor in the business of obtaining and providing criminal history records relating to an individual's criminal convictions. A criminal history record does not include an individual's conviction records that have been sealed by court order. Criminal records include in-state, out-of-state and international criminal history, including misdemeanor and felony convictions.
  6. Excluded Parties List System Check meansthe process of reviewing the federal electronic, web-based system that identifies those parties excluded from receiving Federal contracts, certain subcontracts, and certain types of Federal financial and nonfinancial assistance and benefits.
  7. Final Applicant means a current, former, or prospective employee recommended for hire, transfer or promotion and to whom a contingent offer will be made.
  8. Financial History Check means the process of gathering and reviewing financial history records or information furnished by any court of civil law, credit reporting agency (credit report), or a third party vendor in the business of obtaining and providing credit reports.
  9. Hiring Authority(ies) refers to the individual in a campus department or program with the authority to make hiring decisions. For classified positions, this would be the delegated appointing authority. The hiring authority for university staff positions is comparable to an appointing authority for classified positions and is typically a department director or academic department chair/associate dean. The hiring authority is accountable for the personnel actions occurring within a department, college, school, unit or institute.
  10. International Applicantsare current, former, or prospective employees who are not U.S. citizens or not permanent residents, and who do not have a U.S. issued social security number or who have obtained a social security number in the last six months.
  11. Motor Vehicle Check means the process of gathering and reviewing motor vehicle and/or driver's license records or information, including motor vehicle records from any state where the individual has resided.
  12. Privileged Access are rights to computer or application systems that have been granted to an individual beyond that of a typical user that can bypass, modify, or disable technical or operational security controls. Examples may include the ability to install software; install or modify system processes; create or modify system configurations; create or modify system access controls; and/or view or control the screen of the user through remote access technologies in order to assist them.
  13. Promotion means job advancement, title enhancement, and/or pay increase action or process open to current CU-Boulder employees and which involve increased and/or different job duties and responsibilities. For classified staff positions, a promotion occurs when the employee is appointed to a class with a higher pay grade maximum than his/her current or previous position. For university staff positions, a promotion occurs when the employee accepts a higher-level job title or is appointed to a job title with a higher salary. For faculty positions, a promotion occurs when a tenure track faculty accepts an administrative position with increased and/or different position responsibilities (e.g. Professor who accepts a Department Chair, Institute Director, Faculty Director, or Associate Dean appointment). For the purpose of this Policy, a promotion does not include appointments built into a current position, e.g., academic progression from assistant professor to associate professor or entry-level classified staff positions that normally progress to the next classification level and Background Checks are not required in such cases.
  14. Reference Check means the process of contacting individuals directly or through a third party vendor, including current and former employers, companies, and educational institutions that may reasonably be relied upon to provide relevant information regarding fitness for employment.
  15. Security-Sensitive means work that meets one or more of the following criteria:
    1. Responsibility for patient, animal or child care in a child care center as defined by state law;
    2. Access to "select agents or toxins" or "controlled substances" as defined under state and federal law;
    3. Access to campus buildings where students and faculty reside (e.g. residence halls), the Recreation Center, Athletics Facilities and other secured facilities as determined at the sole discretion of Human Resources in consultation with the appropriate Dean or Hiring Authority as needed;
    4. Positions that serve a Vulnerable Population Program;
    5. Primary responsibility for driving a University vehicle (refer to Appendix A); or
    6. Positions with information technology responsibilities that meet the criteria for Privileged Access.
  16. Officer means the chancellor, provost/executive vice chancellor, vice provost/associate vice chancellors, senior vice chancellor, vice chancellors, deans, and the chief campus financial affairs and chief campus fiscal affairs officer, or any other officer as defined by Article 3A of the Laws of the Regents and Regent Policy 3-J.
  17. Transfer refers to a lateral movement in the same job class title and with the same or similar job responsibilities. A transfer typically involves moving to a position in a different campus department and/or with a different hiring authority.
  18. Volunteer refers to an individual who is not an employee or an Applicant, and who is providing a service to CU-Boulder without expectation of remuneration.
  19. Vulnerable Population Program means program activities, including but not limited to academic programs and camps, that include:
    1. Working or assisting with programs serving minors or at-risk adults;
    2. Working or assisting in child care facilities;
    3. Spending the night in a situation where minors are present;  or
    4. Providing housing for minor undergraduate students.

III. CU-Boulder Administered Background Check Policies 

  1. Roles and Responsibilities
    1. The Department of Human Resources ("Human Resources") is solely authorized to conduct and oversee the Background Check process necessitated pursuant to this Policy on behalf of CU-Boulder. Human Resources may work with law enforcement or contract with outside agencies in executing any of the obligations set forth in this Policy. Human Resources is responsible for making decisions regarding what type of Background Check is appropriate, interpreting Background Check records and information, determining whether an Applicant is eligible for employment, and for making personnel recommendations to the Hiring Authorities.
    2. Notwithstanding this Policy, nothing precludes Human Resources from conducting a Background Check on any individual when Human Resources, in consultation with the Hiring Authority and the Office of University Counsel, determine that a Background Check is necessary.
    3. Hiring Authorities are responsible for initiating the Background Check process by contacting Human Resources.
    4. All CU-Boulder employees are responsible for ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of the Background Check process.
  2. Applicant Background Check General Requirements
    1. Consent and Providing False Information. Applicants must consent to a Background Check to be considered for a position. Any Applicant who refuses to consent to the Background Check, refuses to provide information necessary to conduct the Background Check, or provides false or misleading information will not be considered for the position for which s/he has applied. Any Applicant who has already been hired or promoted and is subsequently found to have provided false or misleading information related to the Background Check may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
    2. When Background Checks Are Conducted. Background Checks are typically conducted after a single Final Applicant has been identified; however, they may be conducted prior to that time for a high-profile position where Human Resources, in consultation with Hiring Authority and the Office of University Counsel, determines that there is potential for CU-Boulder to suffer reputational harm if the check is not conducted on more than one potential Final Applicant.
    3. Offers are Contingent. All offers of employment and continued employment are contingent upon a satisfactory Background Check. Employment shall not be effective until Human Resources has notified the department that the Applicant has satisfactorily completed the Background Check.
    4. International Applicants. International Applicants are not subject to the campus Background Check. However campus departments hiring an International Applicant must forward the applicant's name and projected start date to the Human Resources Background Check Coordinator in writing for tracking purposes. If an International Applicant is re-hired or re-appointed after possessing the social security number for a period of six months or more, the Background Check shall be initiated through the usual process.
    5. Promotions. Applicants or employees who are otherwise considered for a Promotion shall be subject to a Background Check, unless Human Resources previously conducted a Background Check appropriate for the position within the previous three years.
  3. Type of Background Check Required
    1. Reference Checks must be completed for all Final Applicants. The hiring department is responsible for conducting Reference Checks.
    2. A Criminal History Check must be conducted for all Final Applicants, unless a Criminal History Check has been conducted within the previous three years.
    3. Financial History Check must be conducted for Final Applicants for the following positions: Administrators and Officers at or above the assistant vice chancellor level; leadership positions at or above the director and chair level; and positions in campus departments with centralized and primary responsibility for significant university resources (please refer to Appendix A).
    4. A Motor Vehicle Check must be conducted for Final Applicants for positions with primary responsibility for driving (refer to Appendix A).
    5. An Excluded Parties List System Check must be conducted for all Final Applicants.
  4. Post-Employment Background Checks
    CU-Boulder may conduct post-employment Background Checks on employees as needed, such as but not limited to following any workplace violence incident involving the employee or when it is required to do so pursuant to state or federal laws, rules, or regulations. As a condition of continued employment, employees must consent to any post-employment background check as determined necessary by CU-Boulder.
  5. Vulnerable Population Programs
    Volunteers, student employees and contractors (including their employees, agents, and subcontractors)  providing services for a CU-Boulder affiliated Vulnerable Population Program shall be required to satisfactorily complete a Criminal History Check.Hiring Authorities and supervisors of volunteers, student employees and contractors are responsible for compliance with this requirement and shall initiate, or troubleshoot any questions about, the Background Check process through Human Resources.

IV. Policy & Procedure for Reviewing Background Check Records & Information 

  1. Arrests Not Considered, Charges and Convictions are Considered
    Human Resources will not consider arrest information unless the arrest resulted in pending criminal charges. In such circumstances, Human Resources will contact the Applicant, and may contact other parties, to obtain further information in order to assess reliability of the charge information. Human Resources will consider any information revealed regarding Convictions, as defined above in Section II, although a Conviction shall not automatically preclude initial or continued employment.
  2. Job-relation and Business Necessity Criteria
    When considering pending charges and Convictions, Human Resources will evaluate the time frame, nature, gravity, and relevancy of the Conviction or charge offense as it relates to the job duties and CU-Boulder's business necessities.
  3. Excluded Parties are Not Eligible for Hire
    Applicants who are on the Excluded Parties List System are not eligible for hire. Current employees who are placed on the Excluded Parties List System may be subject to disciplinary action, including but not limited to termination.

V. Adverse Action Notification Procedures 

If information is revealed in a Criminal History, Financial History, or Motor Vehicle Check report that could potentially result in an adverse employment decision, Human Resources shall take the following steps:

  1. Pre-Adverse Action Notice
    Human Resources will notify the Applicant in writing that negative information was revealed during the Background Check process which may impact the employment decision and will provide a copy of the supporting report to the Applicant or employee along with a copy of "A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act." The Applicant or employee will be provided no less than five days to challenge the information provided in the report and take steps to correct inaccuracies or provide explanation.
  2. Decision Stay
    A final employment decision shall not be made until the Applicant's or employee's new information has been considered or such time that the Applicant or employee fails to respond as required.
  3. Adverse Action Notice
    If, after considering any Applicant or employee response, Human Resources determines that the negative information revealed results in an adverse employment decision, a second written notification will be sent to Applicant or employee. This notice shall include the following:
    • the name, address, and phone number of the vendor Consumer Report Agency (CRA) that supplied the report
    • a statement that the CRA (vendor) supplying the 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 or completeness of any information the agency furnished, and his or her right to an additional free consumer report from the agency upon request within 60 days and to dispute with the CRA, the accuracy or completeness of any information in a consumer report furnished by the agency.

VI. Security Sensitive Contractors 

  1. Contractor Responsibility for Conducting Background Check 
    Contractors performing Security Sensitive work are responsible for conducting Background Checks on all employees, agents, and subcontractors that provide services to CU-Boulder and, upon CU-Boulder request, certifying that such employees and agents have satisfactorily completed the Background Check.
  2. Required Contract Provision
    The following provision shall be included in all contracts with Security Sensitive contractors:
    Contractor acknowledges that Contractor's activities involve heightened risks as a result of access or exposure by Contractor's employees or agents to one or more security sensitive environments. Contractor expressly acknowledges that Contractor shall take all commercially reasonable measures to mitigate any such risks, which measures shall include but are not limited to conducting criminal history checks, financial background checks when appropriate, and reference checks on all employees or agents who will be performing work at the University. Upon University request, Contractor shall certify in writing that it has complied with this provision and that all employees, agents, and subcontractors performing work hereunder have satisfactorily completed Contractor's background check.

VII. Employee Self-Disclosure Requirements

  1. Criminal Conviction or Felony Charge
    All current employees are required to self-disclose post-employment criminal Convictions or felony charges filed against them that occur on or after the Effective Date of this Policy within three business days of the Conviction or felony charge to the Human Resources Background Check Coordinator. Employees failing to self-disclose may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Hiring Authorities notified of a post-employment Conviction or felony charge have an obligation to report the information to the Human Resources Background Check Coordinator. Hiring Authorities failing to report the information may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
  2. Driver's License Suspension or Revocation
    All current employees with primary responsibility for driving as demonstrated in the position description are required to self-disclose the post-employment suspension or revocation of a driver's license that occurs on or after the Effective Date of this Policy within three business days of the revocation to the Human Resources Background Check Coordinator. Hiring Authorities notified of the post-employment suspension or revocation of a driver's license have an obligation to report the information to the Human Resources Background Check Coordinator. Hiring Authorities failing to report the information may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

CU-Boulder Background Check Policy - Appendix A 

Distribution: Chancellor's Executive Committee, HR Council
Revised June 4, 2008
Approved November 26, 2007

Effective Date

Monday, April 15, 2013

Approved By

Philip P. DiStefano Chancellor


Background Check Policy Committee