General Information

What is the relevant policy?

Background Check Policy located here.

Does a background check include checking into a person's credit rating and personal finances?

Whether or not a credit rating is required for the job depends on the nature of the work. Most positions do not require this check.

Who determines which positions are "sensitive?"

The hiring manager, in consultation with Human Resources, will determine which positions should be designated as critical, or "sensitive," based on the duties and responsibilities of each position.  The type of position will determine what background checks are required.  For example, only those who drive for the job will need a DMV check.

When are background checks required?

Background checks are required of an employee who moves into a critical, or sensitive, position as a new hire, transfer, promotion, reclassification, or changes in job duties that move a position into a critical or "sensitive" category. This includes career, limited, contract, per diem, student, and volunteer positions.

Where policies, work rules, and contractual provisions related to background checks for specific personnel programs currently exist, it is intended that the provisions of this policy be applied in conjunction with those provisions. Represented employees will remain covered by the relevant contractual provisions and the previous policy pertaining to background checks while collective bargaining obligations are completed. See Bargaining Agreements, and Labor Relations for more information.

Current employees do not have to undergo background checks unless a transfer, promotion, reclassification, or change in their job duties moves their position into a sensitive category, as defined by the criteria for designated critical positions in PPSM 21, section V.

Do current employees have to undergo background checks?

Current employees do not have to undergo background checks unless a transfer, promotion, reclassification, or change in their job duties moves their position into a sensitive category, as defined by the new criteria.

What exactly does this policy do?

The policy provides guidance on the criteria for determining when positions are sensitive and require background checks. It articulates the responsibilities of the department and other campus units, describes the process for background checks, including the notification process, and provides for the confidentiality of information gathered and the protection of privacy of individuals undergoing background checks.

Why do we have this policy?

The university has an obligation as an employer to provide a safe learning and work environment, and as a steward of public funds to protect its assets.  To that end, individuals in positions that require, for example, handling cash, access to restricted spaces, working with children, or access to personal information are checked to ensure they have no conviction history relevant to their employment. Although this is no guarantee against criminal acts, it does reduce the likelihood of crime, and may reduce the university’s liability in the event a crime occurs. Such activity impacts morale and can have a significant financial impact on the institution.   If problems occur, assistance for departments may be available through the University's Employee Dishonesty Insurance Policy, available at: read the full text of the policy.

Access and Privacy

How long will the background results remain on file at the UCPD?

The UCPD will keep the background check results on file at their office until the employee leaves the campus.  When an employee leaves and is not expected to return, departments can send an email to UCPD notifying them that the individual has left University employment. The UCPD Records Unit will destroy records after an employee leaves and will notify DOJ to discontinue the updates. Departments can send the email to this UCPD address:

Where should departments file background check information?

Background check information should not be kept in an individual's personnel file. For current employees, this information should be kept in a separate file. For applicants who are hired, background check information should be kept in the recruitment file for that position. If someone is not hired, it is ok to keep all of the information in one file. Visit the following HR web site for other questions and answers about staff employee personnel files including a list of items that do not belong in the personnel files of an employee: Personnel Files.

How will the University protect an individual's right to privacy?

Conviction history background checks are conducted by the campus Police Department (UCPD) under the supervision of the Chief of Police. The UCPD will serve as the Office of Record for all conviction history background check results and will maintain confidentiality. Departments will not receive any details of a background check, only a notification of whether the background check has revealed any convictions relevant to the job duties. UC policy and state and federal laws recognize a subject's right to privacy and prohibit campus employees and others from seeking out, using, or disclosing personal information except within the scope of their assigned duties

Who will have access to the background check results?

The University of California Police Department (UCPD) will maintain the results of background checks. If there are no convictions, UCPD will notify the department to complete the hiring process. The original report will remain in the Police Department. If there are convictions within the last seven years, the UCPD will notify the Background Check Committee, which will review the results and make final determinations regarding the suitability of subjects for specific positions. In accordance with California law AB655, the UCPD will also provide a summary of the background check to the subject of the investigation, regardless of the results.

Funding, Costs, and Financial Liability

Since any potential liability is mostly to the campus, why must the departments be responsible for the decision to designate a position as sensitive and for providing the funding?

The policy places the responsibility on the department to determine which of their positions should be designated sensitive. Additionally, there can be financial consequences for a department when a crime is committed in that department. For financially sensitive positions: the University has an insurance policy for employee dishonesty, but the deductible is $1,000,000. The department would have to pay for losses under that amount. For other sensitive positions: although it is true that the General Liability Self-Insurance Program would pay for many of these liabilities, under certain circumstances the General Liability Program could compel departments to pay for the first $50,000 of any loss. The most common reason the General Liability Self-Insurance Program asks for department contributions is "violation of University or campus policy." Failure to conduct a background check when appropriate would fit under that category. Currently, there are no central campus funds available to help off-set this expense. The responsibility and cost of background checks may provide an incentive to some departments to structure their internal business processes with needed checks and balances to avoid the need for the background checks.

What are the costs for background checks, who determines the rates, and who pays for them?

The current rate (as of April 2016) for background checks is $94-105 for the combined Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports. The campus Police Department (UCPD) is responsible for coordinating the background checks and will recharge the department for this service. The rates were established and approved by the campus Recharge Committee, are subject to annual review and may be modified in accordance with campus recharge policy.

Time Issues

How long does a background check take?

The length of time needed to complete a background check varies by type of check.   Except for fingerprinting, other types of background checks are to be completed before appoint to a position. Since conviction history checks can take upwards of two months for UCPD to receive the DOJ and FBI information, an appointment can be made contingent on successful completion of this part of the background check.

The DOJ and FBI returns are generally received within 1-2 days of the fingerprinting. However if there are any issues it can take upwards of 1-2 months to receive both returns.

Hiring Issues

Can employees be hired before the background check has cleared?

Per UC policy, with the exception of fingerprinting, other types of background checks are to be completed prior to being appointed to a designated critical position (e.g. DMV, credit rating).  Since it can take longer for UCPD to receive the results from a DOJ and FBI check, appointments can be made contingent on successful completion of that portion of the background check.


What about assignment of new job duties, including reclassification?

Per UC policy, with the exception of fingerprinting, other types of background checks are to be completed prior to being appointed to a designated critical position (e.g. DMV, credit rating).  Since it can take longer for UCPD to receive the results from a DOJ and FBI check, appointments can be made contingent on successful completion of that portion of the background check.

Transfers and Promotions

When hiring an employee who claims to have already cleared a campus background check, how can departments accurately verify a previous fingerprint session?

To find out if an individual has already had a background check, departments can inquire by calling UC Police Department 642-6760 for instructions.

Why are we to advise UC employees who have applied for an internal position to provide notice to their current department only after the background check has cleared?

This is because there is no provision in the policy to hold or guarantee the old job if an employee gives notice and the background check subsequently precludes that individual from accepting the new sensitive position. The principle here is to preserve an individual's job rights.

Student Employment Issues

Are background checks required each time students or other employees who are on semester assignments in sensitive positions leave the campus and return to start a new campus position?

As long as the student returns to the same sensitive position or one that is similar, background checks are not required each time students leave the campus and return to start a new position. If the employee has already cleared the background check for a particular sensitive position, the UC Police Department (UCPD) will continue to receive automatic updates from DOJ/FBI notifying them of any subsequent convictions. Subsequently, there is no need to obtain additional background checks unless the nature of the sensitive job duties change. These automatic updates will continue to come to UCPD until a department notifies them that the employee no longer works for the University. UCPD then has to notify DOJ/FBI to discontinue the updates.

When are student volunteers required to have background checks?

This will depend on the situation:

  • Background checks are required if a student is filling a position that falls under the definition of a designated critical position (See PPSM 21, section V).
  • If a student volunteers to work for a campus sponsored event or program which involves minors (individuals under 18 years of age), a background check is required, unless the student's interaction with these minors is supervised at all times.
  • If students will be donating time and effort in a manner that benefits others (non-UC sponsored opportunity), the agency or institution accepting the volunteer is liable. In this case, campus departments are not responsible for obtaining the background check.  Liability for actions of volunteers would reside with the organization using the volunteers, not the organization supplying the volunteers, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.
  • If a student volunteers to host a high school senior for a night as part of Cal's Senior Weekend activities, departments should transfer liability to the parents of the senior coming to campus. If this is done, a background check of that student volunteer would not be required. (Departments can call the Office of Risk Management to obtain a waiver of liability, agreement, or memo of understanding).

If you have questions about whether you need a background check for work-study students or student volunteers, consult with your HR Partner.

Can departments hire student employees and limited employees and allow them to begin working in sensitive positions before background check results are completed?

Since both student employees and limited employees can be terminated at will if the background check reveals relevant convictions, a department may at their discretion choose to let such employees begin working in some positions before completion of the background check. It depends upon the kinds of sensitive duties the employee would perform and the potential consequences of behavior. For example:

  • For a position that has been designated sensitive because of access to cash, the department may carefully weigh the University's business need against risk management considerations and decide that a student or limited employee whose job duties would include, e.g., part-time operation of a cash register in a low-volume gift-shop operation does not pose a significant financial risk of theft or embezzlement, and can allow the employee to begin performing the duties before the background check results have been received.
  • For a position that has been designated sensitive because of duties involving contact with children, the potential consequences of even a single act that caused harm to children would outweigh any business need considerations, and the individual should not be allowed to start working in the job before being cleared
  • For a position that has been designated sensitive because of access to keys, the decision of when a student or limited employee can begin work should take into account the nature of the theft or harm that could result from misuse of the keys. For instance, if the employee would possess keys to an office supplies storeroom, the department may consider that this does not represent a risk of significant theft. But if the employee possesses keys to dormitory rooms or to laboratories with hazardous materials, the consequences of misuse of the keys may represent too great a risk of harm.

DMV Pull Notice Program

Are departments required to use Fleet Services to get DMV Pull Notices for employees who will operate vehicles as part of their job?

Departments have the option of using the Fleet Services Pull Notice Program to order periodic DMV checks and be recharged, or Sacramento's DMV Pull Notice Program at no cost (UC is exempt from charges). To use the Sacramento Pull Notice Program, departments will need to apply for their own user codes and maintain their own records for audit purposes. For information about the Sacramento DMV Pull Notice Program, call the DMV Employee Pull Notice Unit at (916) 657-6346.

Inter-campus Transfers

Can background check information about a UC employee be transferred from one campus to another, in the case of a transfer from one sensitive position to another sensitive position on a different campus?

Fingerprint information and perpetual updates from DOJ/FBI cannot be transferred between campuses when a career UC employee in a sensitive position transfers from one campus to another. The UC Police Department (UCPD) has clarified that the agency that submits the fingerprints is required to use a unique identifying number issued by the DOJ; information cannot be transferred from one agency to another. (For example, if a person is transferred from UC Berkeley to UC San Francisco [UCSF], UCPD would drop him/her from their database. If UCSF wanted to track that individual, they would need to submit a new set of fingerprints to DOJ/FBI). Protection of privacy and confidentiality issues prohibit agencies from sharing data. Consequently, background checks should be obtained before hiring/promoting career employees who are transferring from another UC campus to fill sensitive positions, when there will be no break in service.

If there will be a break in service, in most cases this individual may begin work (provisionally) before the background check is complete, since s/he will serve a new probation period and can be released if s/he does not clear the background check.

Unions, Bargaining Agreements and Labor Relations

Will employees represented by Teamsters 2010 be subject to the background check policy?

The intent of PPSM 21 is that it will apply to represented as well as non- represented employees in defining designated critical positions and the processes associated with conducting background checks.   Existing work rules for represented positions are assumed to be consistent with these requirements of the policy.   Where they may differ, the collective bargaining agreement prevails.

Departments considering actions that may change employee terms and conditions of employment including reorganizations or changes in work rules, should consult with their HR Partner regarding a possible bargaining obligation.

Procurement Card Users

When are background checks required for people who use Procurement Cards (P Cards)?

The Background Check policy criteria states that background checks are required of those who have authority to commit financial resources of the University through contracts greater than the Low Value Purchase Authority. Therefore, if the Procurement Card user is only authorized for purchases up to the Low Value Purchase Authority maximum of $2,500 per transaction, no background check is required. Departments should make sure that the appropriate audit procedures are in place.

Identification Needed for Live Scan

Can a UC employee use a UC-issued photo ID for identification for background checks/live scan?

No. The UC- issued photo ID (Cal 1 Card) cannot be used as identification for background check/live scan service. The UC Police Department has clarified that the State of California DOJ and the FBI only accept the following types of ID to conduct a fingerprint scan: driver's license, passport, or birth certificate with a picture ID.

Review Committee

Can I appeal a decision by the Background Check Committee to reject my employment?

Yes.  If you receive a letter from the Background Check Committee that you are not recommended for employment, it will contain instructions on the appeal process.  It does happen that there is additional information that was not available to the committee at the time of the initial decision.  We give potential employees an opportunity to provide that information through the appeal process, and will carefully consider it.

Are there certain kinds of convictions that will automatically preclude hiring or promotion into a sensitive position?

Individuals with convictions for theft, embezzlement, identity theft or fraud cannot be hired into positions with fiduciary responsibilities. Convictions for child molestation and other sex offenses will automatically preclude an individual from employment that involves direct unsupervised contact with students, outreach programs, or access to residence facilities. Workplace or domestic violence, or other convictions for behaviors that would be inappropriate for specific jobs may also be grounds for denial of employment/promotion. This list is not inclusive, but serves to illustrate the decision-making criteria.

How long does it take for the Background Check Review Committee to make its decisions?

The Committee typically completes its review within seven days of receiving notification of a Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) background check with convictions, not seven days from being fingerprinted.  Occasionally there are delays in receiving DOJ and FBI information.

If there is a nexus between the conviction history and the job duties, the individual may not be recommended for employment.  Examples include convictions for theft, embezzlement, identity theft or fraud and job duties that have fiduciary responsibilities or access to personal information. Convictions for child molestation and other sex offenses will automatically preclude an individual from employment that involves direct unsupervised contact with students, outreach programs, or access to residence facilities.   These illustrate the decision-making criteria.

Does a conviction automatically preclude an applicant from employment or a current employee from a reclassification or promotion?

No. Berkeley does employ individuals with conviction histories.  If there is a conviction, the Background Check Committee will review it in the context of the job responsibilities and make the final determination regarding the individual's suitability for employment in the position. The Review Committee may recommend additional controls that a department would need to implement before employing, promoting, or reclassifying a person to the position. Consideration will be given to the specific duties of the position, the circumstances of the offense(s), and whether the convictions were disclosed in advance by the applicant.

Does the Background Check Review Committee have final decision-making authority regarding the suitability of an individual for employment in a sensitive position?

Yes. The Committee reviews all background checks in which convictions are found and makes the final determinations regarding the suitability of individuals for specific positions.


What conviction history information is considered?

Your qualifications for the job are evaluated first.  Hiring managers will not see the information provided or have access to additional information you may provide.

If you are a finalist for a job, you will be required to supply information about any convictions for a felony or misdemeanor that resulted in imprisonment, probation, or fine over the past seven years.

You are not to report any of the following:

  • Traffic violations with an imposed fine of $500 or less, e.g. DUIs
  • Any offence that was finally settled in a juvenile court or referred to the Youth Authority.
  • Any incident that has been sealed under Welfare and Institution Code Section 781 or Penal Code Section 1203.45.
  • Any conviction in Health and Safety Section 11.361.5, which pertains to various marijuana offenses.

How far back does the check for convictions go? Will it include all convictions?

Only convictions within the past seven years will be considered by the Review Committee. The DOJ will report conviction results in the State of California, and the FBI will report national convictions.  However, the only ones the Background Check Committee reviews are those that occurred within the last seven years, and only those that are not restricted by law.

Process & Forms

What specific forms and documents are needed for this process, and where can they be obtained?

The following forms can be found on the UCPD website:

Sample Letters of Notification (to inform an individual that employment in a particular sensitive position is conditional upon the results of a background check) are available on the Background Check: Forms & Sample Letters page.