Hiring and Background Check Policy

Policy Title Hiring and Background Check Policy
Policy Category Employment, Benefits, and Workplace Policies
Original Policy Approval Date August 12, 2020
Responsible Office Finance and Administration
Related Policies Faculty Handbook, Staff Handbook
Policies Superseded None
Frequency of Review 3 Years
Date of Next Review August 12, 2023
Date of Revision  

I. Scope

This Hiring and Background Check Policy (“Policy”) applies to the proposed hiring of all full-time and part-time staff members of the University, including both Exempt and Non-Exempt Staff Members (herein collectively referred to as “employees”). The hiring process described in this Policy does not apply to the hiring of faculty members, student workers, volunteers, or Independent Contractors. It also does not apply to the hiring of non-U.S. based employees of The College of Global Studies1. This Policy governs the actions of current or existing members of the University community, regardless of status (e.g. staff member, faculty member, student, Independent Contractor, authorized volunteer) involved in the hiring process, as well as all applicants for employee positions at the University.

Although the hiring process described in this Policy does not apply to the hiring of faculty members, volunteers, or Independent Contractors, the background check requirements described in section III(F) do apply to all faculty members2, volunteers, and Independent Contractors. This includes this Policy’s requirement that individuals whose affiliation with the University has been ongoing will be subjected to additional background checks if the individual transfers into a new position or if the current position requires an initial or updated background check. This also includes the requirement that such individuals promptly report to the University some criminal charges, criminal convictions, or judicial orders as described in Section III(F).

Please see section IV below for the definitions of capitalized terms contained in this Policy.

II. Policy Statement

The University is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse pool of highly qualified individuals to employee positions. This Policy is intended to provide a consistent approach to the recruitment, selection, and onboarding of qualified applicants. Should the particularities of any specific situation suggest that deviation from this Policy is called for, such permission may only be granted by the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (“AVP of HR”), or their designee.

All personnel participating in any employee recruitment and hiring processes must comply with this Policy. Failure to adhere to this Policy may be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Individuals with concerns related to this Policy, including any known or suspected failure to comply, can report those concerns directly to Human Resources or using the process set forward in the University’s Whistleblower Policy.

III. Policy

A. Initiation of Hiring Process

To initiate the hiring process, the first step is for the Hiring Authority to submit a position requisition form to their unit Vice President or Dean. The unit Vice President or Dean will make any necessary changes to the position requisition form, then submit the completed position requisition form to the AVP of HR, or their designee.

Human Resources will assist the Hiring Authority with ensuring that an appropriate job description is prepared for new positions, and that the current job description is appropriate for existing positions being re-filled. Prior to re-filling a position, due consideration should be given to ensure that the role is necessary and supports the advancement of the University’s adaptive strategy. Human Resources will also ensure that the position is properly graded for the purposes of compensation. Human Resources will then load the position into the University’s Applicant Tracking System (“ATS”), and publicly post the position after receiving approval for the job description and salary grade from the Hiring Authority and the Director of Institutional Planning and Budget or, for U.S.-based employees of The College of Global Studies, the Chief Operating Officer for The College of Global Studies.

All positions should be posted for a minimum of seven (7) calendar days. In the event that a uniquely-qualified internal candidate has been identified for an open position, this process, including any relevant timelines, may be adjusted with the approval of AVP of HR. Postings will appear on the Careers at Arcadia website, which directs prospective applicants to the ATS portal. To advance the development of an applicant pool that is just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive (“JEDI”), Human Resources will work directly with the Hiring Authority to identify and advertise on additional websites, publications, trade journals, and listservs of professional organizations and associations related to the position at issue to ensure that a diverse and talented pool of highly qualified prospective applicants is aware of the position and encouraged to apply.

All job postings will include language reflective of the University’s commitment to a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive University community. The AVP of HR or their designee will ensure that each position posting clearly reflects these foundational values with the following statement:

At Arcadia University, our JEDI principles of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion are the foundation of our highly-regarded, values-based learning community, which reflects the world in which we want to live. As such, Arcadia actively seeks and welcomes candidates of diverse backgrounds and abilities. Arcadia prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, race, color, religion, creed, sex, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military or military veteran status, age, medical or genetic information, pregnancy, disability, or any other characteristic prohibited by law. All offers of employment are conditional based on successful completion of a background check. Employment may not begin until the University accepts the results of the background check.

B. Search Committee Formation

A search committee should be identified by the Hiring Authority or their designee4. Search committees should generally be comprised of no less than three (3) members, with one (1) member to serve as search committee chair. In identifying members of the search committee, the Hiring Authority should be sure to consider diversity of experience and perspective among the search committee members in order to avoid a limited or myopic point of view throughout the hiring process. Human Resources is available to consult with Hiring Authorities regarding search committee selection.

Once the search committee is formed, each member of the search committee should be trained by Human Resources regarding University policies and procedures pertinent to the hiring process, as well as collateral issues such as effective and legally compliant interview techniques. If a member of the search committee has gone through such training with the University’s Human Resources department within the past two (2) years, the training need not be repeated. Anti-bias training will also be made available to search committee members to increase search committee members’ understanding of difference and its value to the University community.

The Hiring Authority should be sure to provide a clear charge to the search committee, including a desired timeline for the position to be filled. Again, Human Resources is available to consult with Hiring Authorities regarding this step in the process.

The services of an outside search firm or consultant may be used, if appropriate, as determined by the Hiring Authority in consultation with Human Resources. While this may change some of the procedural elements described herein (e.g. the consultant may assist in drafting the job description, or conduct initial interviews rather than the search committee), any such search should be consistent with the overall process described in those subsections to ensure consistency.

C. Initial Applicant Screening

The ATS portal will collect applicant information for the posted position. All applicants must apply through the ATS portal. In order to ensure fairness and transparency, applicants are not permitted to apply for positions through alternative means, such as providing a résumé or cover letter directly to Human Resources, the Hiring Authority, or another member of the University community.

The search committee should review the information and documents submitted by each applicant through the ATS portal, and identify each applicant as falling into one of three (3) categories: not qualified, for applicants who do not meet the minimum requirements for the position; qualified, for applicants who meet the minimum requirements for the position; and highly qualified, for applicants who meet the minimum requirements for the position, and exhibit exemplary related experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities5. Search committee members should base their evaluation on the materials submitted, and not conduct extraneous internet or social media searches of applicants.

The search committee should then identify the applicants to whom it wishes to extend an invitation for an initial interview to be conducted over the phone or via videoconferencing such as Zoom. Typically, no less than three (3) and no more than ten (10) applicants should be selected for initial interviews. In advance of the initial interviews, the search committee should develop questions to ask the applicants during the initial interviews. To ensure fairness, applicants should generally be asked substantially identical questions and have their responses assessed based on an established rubric. Human Resources is available to consult with search committees regarding this process.

It should be noted that all stages in the hiring process should place the highest value on the application of consistent standards of comparison. This ensures selection of the best qualified candidate, and can serve to mitigate any explicit or implicit biases based on race, religion, gender, or other protected categories. Participants in the hiring process should also be reminded to keep all aspects of the hiring process private, including, but not limited to, not sharing the names of candidates for positions, disclosing internal discussions of the search committee, and/or sharing information about the status of the hiring process without authorization.

At the stage of initial applicant screening, and at all steps in the hiring process thereafter, the search committee should make sure to inform applicants that reasonable accommodations related to an applicant’s disability can be made available for such steps as completing or accessing application materials, or accessing the interview process, including use of technology or access to a physical location. Human Resources can assist in facilitating any requested reasonable accommodations.

D. Advanced Applicant Screening

After the initial applicant screening interviews are complete, the search committee should select applicants for advanced applicant screening via a more extensive interview, which is generally conducted in person or, where necessary, via videoconferencing. At this stage, notice should be sent through the ATS portal to applicants who will not be selected for a second interview. Generally, no fewer than two (2) and no more than five (5) applicants should be interviewed at this stage. If the pool of applicants selected for advanced screening lacks diversity, the Chair should reflect on whether the decision is soundly based on the application of consistent standards of comparison and not influenced by explicit or implicit biases based on race, religion, gender, or other protected categories.

In preparation for these advanced interviews, the search committee should again develop questions to ask the applicants and, to ensure fairness, applicants should generally be asked substantially identical questions and have their responses assessed based on an established rubric. Human Resources is available to consult with search committees regarding this step in the process.

Once the advanced applicant screening is complete, the search committee should recommend a candidate to the Hiring Authority, who will make the final decision. Before an offer is extended to the candidate, the candidate’s references should be contacted. It is customary, but not required, to alert the candidate that their references will be checked before doing so, as a courtesy. Human Resources can conduct the reference checks, or the Hiring Authority can do so. Information collected from the reference checks should be recorded on the form provided by Human Resources.

All documentation collected during a search process (e.g. questions asked at initial and advanced applicant screening interviews; notes from those interviews; notes from the reference checks; evaluations, if any, from the open forum; items added to any shared drive; and so on) should be collected and retained by the Hiring Authority in accordance with the University’s record retention policy, which is set out in the (Interim) Information Technology Policy, Section EE.

E. Extending Offers of Employment

If the reference check is acceptable, the Hiring Authority shall share notes from the reference check and the name of the finalist for review by Human Resources. Thereafter, once authorized by Human Resources, a verbal offer should be extended to the chosen candidate by the Hiring Authority. If the reference check is not acceptable, or the verbal offer is not accepted, another candidate who was subject to advanced applicant screening should have their references checked, and so on. If no such candidates are acceptable to the Hiring Authority or if all such candidates decline the verbal offer, the Hiring Authority should consult with Human Resources regarding next steps, which may include bringing additional candidates in for second interviews, re-posting the position, or other similar steps. Offers of employment should not be extended to unqualified or otherwise unacceptable candidates due to actual or perceived exigency.

Once a candidate accepts a verbal offer of employment, a written offer letter should be sent to the candidate by Human Resources. Importantly, the offer letter will note—as must all job postings, as noted above in Section III(A)6 —that the offer of employment is contingent on the candidate’s successful completion of a background check. At this time, the ATS portal should be updated to send notice to those not selected and not previously so informed, and to ensure that the posting is no longer live.

F. Background Checks

As noted, background checks7 are conducted for all new hires. A selected applicant who refuses to undergo a background check shall be deemed ineligible for employment and shall not be hired. Background checks may also be conducted for current employees, faculty members, Independent Contractors, or volunteers if the individual transfers into a new position that requires an initial or updated background check, or if the current position requires an initial or updated background check. Results of background checks will not be considered part of or included in an individual’s permanent personnel file.

Background checks may include any or all of the following, depending on the nature of the prospective employment:

a. verification of Social Security number or other identification/name/alias;
b. current and prior employment verification;
c. professional license verification;
d. education verification;
e. drug and alcohol screening;
f. sexual offender registry check;
g. motor vehicle record check;
h. credit history check;
i. health screenings;
j. Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearances;
k. Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check (PATCH);
l. FBI criminal check, including a fingerprint check; and/or
m. other checks as deemed reasonably necessary.

Disclosure of Criminal Charges, Criminal Convictions, or Relevant Judicial Orders by Current Employees, Faculty Members, Independent Contractors, and Volunteers

Current employees, faculty members, Independent Contractors, and volunteers are required to report if they are charged with or convicted of any felony, or a misdemeanor offense, or if they are subject to a restraining or custody-removal order involving child abuse or exploitation, to the AVP of HR within seventy-two (72) hours after the charge, conviction, or issuance of the restraining or removal order. In coordination with the Director of Public Safety and, as appropriate, the individual’s supervisor, the AVP of HR or their designee will conduct an investigation to determine whether adverse employment action, or other appropriate action, is recommended. Noncompliance with the above-stated requirements, and/or misrepresentation of the circumstances relating to the events, may result in discipline, up to and including termination, revocation of an offer of employment, or a temporary or permanent ban from University Property.

Departmental Requests for Start Prior to Completion and Review of Background Check

Individuals will not be permitted to start performing duties or responsibilities for the University until any such background checks are completed and reviewed. Requests for start prior to the completion and review of the background check will only be considered based on the following criteria:

a. Unexpected illness or unplanned absence of a current faculty or staff member that requires an immediate replacement;
b. Immediate need to fill a position based on a safety or compliance issue;
c. Immediate need to fill a position related to patient care (if allowed by regulatory compliance), animal care, or laboratory supervision;
d. Urgent business need that could result in a financial issue or otherwise inhibit the University’s ability to deliver a significant service.

The decision to grant a start prior to the completion and review of a background check can only be granted by the University’s Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer or their designee, who cannot be a member of the department of Human Resources. Such a decision should be made in consultation with the AVP of HR and, where appropriate, the Hiring Authority. If the individual’s position is such that they will have Direct Contact with Minors as part of their duties or responsibilities for the University, the individual will not be permitted to start performing duties or responsibilities for the University before all background check requirements of Pennsylvania's Child Protective Services Law are completed and reviewed, as described below.

Individualized Assessment

All information relating to the background check will be considered on a case-by-case basis and the party’s record will undergo a fair individualized assessment process, including, but not limited to, consideration of the circumstances, number and seriousness of the individual’s prior offense(s); whether the offenses substantially relate to their suitability for the job; the length of time that has elapsed subsequent to the offense, or if relevant, the individual’s release from prison; evidence of the individual’s rehabilitation; and the implication for the general safety and security of the University community as well as University assets.

Human Resources personnel responsible for the administration and review of background checks will “flag” applications in accordance with internal departmental guidelines for review by the AVP of HR. Should the AVP of HR determine that the information obtained through the background check calls into question the individual’s fitness for the position, the AVP of HR or their designee will promptly notify both the selected applicant and the Hiring Authority, in writing, sending each a copy of or link to this Policy and informing each that information relating to the selected applicant’s background is sensitive and confidential and is not to be disclosed to or shared with anyone else except as provided in this Policy.

The AVP of HR will then convene a committee to make an individualized assessment. This committee will include the AVP of HR, the Office of General Counsel, and other stakeholders, as appropriate, including, the Hiring Authority.

If it is determined either that the selected applicant is not eligible for the position sought or that more information must be sought from the applicant, Human Resources shall notify the selected applicant in writing, provide the selected applicant with a copy of any background check report on which Human Resources relies, and give the selected applicant an opportunity to confirm or refute the result and otherwise respond. The notice will comply with all applicable requirements in the Fair Credit Reporting Act and allow five (5) business days for the selected applicant to respond.

In the event that the Hiring Authority does not agree with the determined eligibility or non-eligibility of the selected applicant, the Hiring Authority may appeal to the University’s Chief Financial Officer, whose decision in the matter shall be final.

Regardless of whether an individual has commenced their duties or responsibilities for the University, the University reserves the right at any time to rescind any offer of employment, or to take any other necessary action regarding the person’s relationship with the University, should the results of a background check be unacceptable to the University.

Clearances Required by Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law

Any faculty member (including faculty members affiliated with the collective bargaining unit), staff member, student worker, Independent Contractor, and/or volunteer who has Direct Contact with Minors as part of their duties or responsibilities for the University will be subject to all background checks required by Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law (“CPSL”). Individuals who have previously obtained clearances consistent with the requirements of the CPSL9 and who have submitted same to Human Resources for approval may serve at the University during the length of time the clearances are valid under the law (currently, sixty (60) months from the date of the certification). Please note that certifications for volunteers differ from those otherwise required by the CPSL and may be used for volunteer positions at the University, but cannot be used for any employment at the University.

G. Rehires

The University will consider applicants for vacant positions who are former members of the University community, who performed their duties and responsibilities for the University satisfactorily and whose affiliation terminated under favorable circumstances. Each such application will be considered on its own merits after a review of the applicant's record, the type of position available, and other relevant factors.

Importantly, before pursuing the recruitment and selection process of such an individual, the Hiring Authority or their designee must contact Human Resources or the other relevant department, if any, to check the individual’s records from their time at the University. In addition to the other required references, the Hiring Authority or their designee should contact the applicant's former supervisor at the University, if available, for a reference. Human Resources, prior to authorizing the hire, should confirm with the Hiring Authority that these steps have been completed.

H. Confirmation of Employment Authorization for Foreign Nationals10

Issues related to the immigration status of foreign nationals who will be working for the University in the United States should be addressed in a manner consistent with the Immigration Support for Faculty and Staff Policy.

I. Onboarding

New hires will be informed in their offer letters of other requirements of onboarding and the procedures for fulfilling same, including submitting an I-9, completing necessary benefits and payroll forms, and signing any required policy acknowledgements and completing any mandatory trainings. Such individuals will be invited to onboarding sessions with Human Resources. And, such individuals will be subject to performance evaluation at the end of any introductory period of employment and annually thereafter, in accordance with the University’s performance assessment policy.

J. Enforcement

Expectation of Accurate Disclosure

The University reserves the right to revoke an offer of employment or discipline, up to and including separation from the University, any individual who has provided false, misleading, erroneous, or deceptive information on an application, résumé, during an interview, or otherwise in accordance with section III(F) above, or who has omitted material information during the hiring process or when otherwise expected to so divulge, such as in accordance with section III(F) above. The University reserves the right to share false, misleading, erroneous, and deceptive information to probation officers and other appropriate authorities.

Expectation of Adherence to Hiring Process

The University reserves the right to revoke an offer of employment or discipline, up to and including separation from the University, any individual who has failed to adhere to the hiring process described in this Policy.

Employment at Arcadia University is based on the premise of employment at will. This means that employment can be terminated with or without cause, with or without notice, at any time at the option of either the University or the employee, unless the employment relationship is governed by an expressed agreement.

IV. Definitions

Direct Contact with a Minor is defined as the care, supervision, guidance, or control of a Minor, or Routine Interaction with a Minor. It specifically does not include Direct Contact with Minors who are (a) prospective students visiting University Property or (b) matriculated students of the University who are not dually-enrolled high school students.

An Exempt Staff Member is defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act as a Staff Member holding a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional position that is not subject to the overtime provisions of the Act.

The Hiring Authority is the person at the University who is responsible for hiring for a given position.

For the purposes of this Policy, an Independent Contractor who is subject to the background check requirements is an individual not employed by a vendor or service provider which performs background checks on its own employees, agents, and contractors, and which represents and warrants to the University that such background checks have been performed.

A Minor is defined as someone under the age of eighteen (18).

A Non-Exempt Staff Member is defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act as a Staff Member holding a position that is subject to the overtime provisions of the Act.

Routine Interaction with a Minor is defined as regular and repeated contact that is integral to a person’s employment duties, services, or volunteer responsibilities.

University refers to Arcadia University, its colleges, schools, affiliates, divisions and subsidiaries.

University Property includes, without limitation, all University owned or leased buildings and surrounding areas such as sidewalks, walkways, driveways, plazas, parking lots and garages under the University’s ownership or control, excluding public rights of way. This includes the Glenside and Christiana campuses, as well as any other University facilities in the United States. University vehicles are also covered by this Policy at all times regardless of whether or not they are on University Property.

V. Effective Date

This Policy is effective on the date that it is signed by the President

VI. Date of Approval

August 12, 2020

 

 

Footnotes

1The College of Global Studies maintains a separate hiring process that has been approved by the Associate Vice President of Human Resources and is consistent with the goals of this Policy while also being mindful and respectful of the distinctive labor and employment laws associated with the numerous sites making up the University’s global presence.

2As noted, the background check requirements described in section III(F) do apply to all faculty members. Section 20.10 of the Faculty Handbook outlines the current background check policy; to the extent that this Hiring and Background Check Policy is in conflict with the Faculty Handbook, it is the intent that this Hiring and Background Check Policy shall supersede the Faculty Handbook, pending an appropriate update to that document.

3With respect to students, background checks may be necessary before some clinical or field placements, assignments, rotations, or similar experiences. Students will be informed of such requirements by their departments. Student workers may be subject to background checks under some circumstances such as, for example, those who will have Direct Contact with Minors as part of their duties or responsibilities for the University. Please see section III(F) below for more information about this topic.

4A search committee need not be formed in the event of a promotion, lateral transfer, or redeployment. As noted previously, in the event that a uniquely-qualified internal candidate has been identified for an open position, this process, including any relevant timelines, may be adjusted with the approval of AVP of HR.

5It is important that in assessing whether an individual meets the qualifications for the role, if that person is authorized to work in the United States. Any questions regarding this subject should be considered pursuant to the Immigration Support for Faculty and Staff Policy.

6All postings will also prompt applicants to complete an affidavit pertinent to criminal history and findings of child abuse at the time the application is submitted. If a selected applicant knowingly fails to disclose any conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere on an application for employment or in answer to any other appropriately posed question, regardless of the category or severity of the conviction or plea, or conceals or misrepresents a dishonorable discharge from military service, the selected applicant shall be deemed ineligible for employment.

7In addition to reference checks, discussed previously in Section III(E).

8Information obtained through a background check will be used only for the purpose of evaluating an applicant for employment or a contractor or volunteer relationship, initially or ongoing. It will not be disclosed to any third party, including a government official or agency, unless the University is compelled to do so by a lawfully issued subpoena or the University is compelled by statutory or other reporting requirement to disclose or report information obtained by means of a background check.

9For related information, see the University’s Mandatory Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse and Protection of Minors Policy.

10Not a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.