Frequently Asked Questions for Background Check Policy
Why do all new employees have to submit to a background check?
The University of Mississippi is committed to protecting the safety and welfare of employees, students, and the general public, as well as preserving property and upholding the reputation and integrity of the University. The safety of our employees, faculty, students and visitors is of the utmost concern. Requiring a background check of all new employees is an important precaution that we can take to help ensure a safe environment. Recent high-profile incidents, implementation of a new state law, and a need to apply the university policy consistently to both faculty and staff necessitate the implementation of a comprehensive background check policy as part of the hiring process.
Who is subject to a pre-employment background check?
Permanent, temporary, benefit-eligible, non-benefit eligible, full-time and part-time staff and faculty positions require an acceptable background check.
Former employees, including retirees, are also subject to a background check if the break in service is six (6) months or more or after any break in service if the former employee has never had a background check completed by the University.
Background checks may also be required for students and independent contractors under the “Minors on Campus” policy or due to student employment in sensitive areas (i.e., Student Housing).
Can the final candidate start employment prior to the background check being completed?
No. Confirmation of employment (approved E-form 1 or E-form 3) will not be final until the background check is complete and it is determined that the final candidate has successfully passed the background check. Temporary positions hired under an emergency circumstance are also subject to a background check; however, the timing of the start date may be administered differently. It is strongly recommended that departments plan for additional time for the pre-employment background check step in the hiring process and anticipate a reasonable start date.
If an existing University employee changes positions, is a new pre-employment background check required?
Employees who are considered for a promotion may be subject to a background check when required by the position, unless Human Resources previously conducted a background check appropriate for the position within the previous year (12 months). A background check will be required when an employee is promoted/transferred to a position title that requires an additional level of background check (for example, the new position requires cash handling or is of a security-sensitive nature.)
Who conducts the background check?
The University of Mississippi contracts with a third party vendor. Currently, Sterling conducts all background checks.
What is the process for conducting background checks for positions outlined in the background check policy?
Upon delivering a verbal offer (faculty, coaching, and executive positions) or a recommendation for employment (staff positions), an E-form 1 (new hires) or E-form 3 (promotions/transfers) will be submitted for approval. Once approved by Equal Opportunity and Regulatory Compliance, the E-form will be forwarded to Human Resources to initiate the background check.
If an incident in the background check is reported, the results will be reviewed by the Background Check Review Committee and will take additional time. Hiring managers/departments should plan accordingly and anticipate a reasonable start date.
Who initiates the background check?
A Human Resources representative will initiate the background check. HR will send the selected candidate an email with instructions on how to consent to the background check. If the final candidate does not have an email address, refer the final candidate to Human Resources (Howry Hall) for assistance.
What types of checks are conducted?
Pre-employment background checks are conducted for all candidates in any locality where the candidate has lived or worked. Motor vehicle-related convictions (such as DUI convictions) may appear on these records. The candidate’s information is also matched against the National Sex Offender database, and is used in a Federal-level conviction check. Additionally, for positions in which a driver’s license is required as an essential function of the position, a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) check will be conducted on the candidate. Included in this category are employees whose duties require them to drive a motor vehicle, and those who are anticipated to be required to drive a state-owned vehicle. Also, positions whose essential function involves managing money and/or cash handling will be subject to a credit and/or financial history check.
Why is the social security number required on the release form?
The background check vendor uses the social security number to determine where an individual has lived and to confirm an individual's identity.
How thorough is the search for conviction records?
The background check vendor determines where the candidate has lived and conducts a national criminal search, sex offender search, and an appropriate search of court records.
Do previous criminal convictions disqualify an applicant from consideration for employment?
No, previous convictions do not automatically disqualify a candidate from consideration for employment. Eligibility for employment depends on a variety of factors such as the nature of, and circumstances surrounding, the crime; the time elapsed since the conviction; the rehabilitation record; the actions and activities of the individual since the crime (including his/her work history); the truthfulness and completeness of the candidate in disclosing the conviction; and the relevance of the conviction to the job.
How long does it take to conduct a background check?
Background checks typically take 2-3 days to process and to receive back from the outside contracted agency. A few exceptions may take up to 2 weeks. Rarely, a background check may take longer, 3 to 4 weeks. Please allow additional processing time for each background check in the event of a delay. A delay can occur for any of the following reasons:
- The information has been entered incorrectly by the applicant or the requestor into the vendor’s system.
- The county or district listed for a background check in researching whether the applicant has any criminal felony or misdemeanor charges is delayed in providing a response to the vendor.
How much does it cost to conduct a background check?
There is no cost to the hiring department or to potential employee.
Does a candidate have to give permission for a check to be conducted?
Yes. In compliance with federal requirements, candidates complete and electronically sign a Disclosure and Authorization Form. If a candidate declines to give permission, then no check will be conducted; however, because a pre-employment background check is a requirement for employment, he/she cannot be employed by the University of Mississippi.
What happens if it is discovered that an applicant falsified an employment application or consent form?
Falsifying application materials or the consent form, including failure to disclose criminal convictions on the application, is grounds for non-selection of a candidate or immediate termination of employment.
Is a background check required for a faculty or staff member who left the University of Mississippi but returns to work here at a later date?
Former employees, including retirees, are subject to a background check if the break in service is six (6) months or more or after any break in service if the previous employee has never had a background check completed by the University.
Do international applicants need to undergo a criminal background check?
International applicants who come to the University directly from residence outside of the United States are not required to undergo a criminal background check as they have obtained necessary background clearances through the Department of Homeland Security. However, degree verification is still required.
In the case where a foreign national has not come directly to the University from residence outside of the United States, the individual is required to undergo a background check, permitted the individual has been in the United States for six (6) months or longer.
Who is on the Background Check Review Committee?
The Background Check Review Committee is comprised of the Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of Human Resources and the Executive Director of Equal Opportunity and Regulatory Compliance. The Assistant Director of Employment and Training in the Department of Human Resources may serve as backup on the committee in the absence of either the Director of Human Resources or the Executive Director of Equal Opportunity and Regulatory Compliance. In cases requiring review that involve a faculty member applicant, a representative from the Provost’s office and the Dean, and if appropriate, the Chair of the hiring department will be consulted.
Where can I obtain additional information?
For more information please contact the Employment Staff at 662-915-5690.