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.