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Manager Toolkit - Guidelines for Background Checks and Pre-Employment Physicals

Background checks and pre-employment physicals aid in safeguarding the security, safety and health of employees, students and others as well as the assets and resources of the University of Maine. These checks are part of the University’s screening process of potential employees, and can help identify applicants who may be unsuited for employment. The following guidelines for conducting these screenings for faculty, professional and classified employees have been developed to balance the rights of individual applicants with the University’s right and responsibility to screen for individuals who may pose a liability risk to the University or who cannot safely meet the physical requirements of the job.

Background checks are conducted for individuals recommended for hire in selected positions which are designated as financially sensitive, which require driving as an essential duty of the position, or which involve work with children or in police fields. Background checks may include a criminal history check, a driving record check, and/or a credit/bankruptcy check. Any pre-employment background check must be related to the specific job for which a person is considered. That is, driving records may be considered for an employee who will be required to travel frequently, and embezzlement conviction records for an accountant, but not vice versa. Information received will be considered carefully in the context of the essential duties of the position’s job description. Information received through the background check process will not necessarily disqualify the applicant from further consideration or eventual hiring. The results of any check will be weighed against the nature and gravity of the incident(s) reported, the time that has passed since, remedial actions taken by the individual, the nature of the position and the potential impact of the incident(s) on the person’s ability to safely and appropriately perform the duties of the job.

Pre-employment physicals are also conducted for any position that requires physical strength or endurance. Jobs with exposure to lead, heavy metals, pesticides and chemicals may require baseline blood or urine testing. Positions with potential exposure to asbestos or other air borne hazards may require respiratory tests and x-rays. Other jobs may require TB and blood borne pathogen immunization. Work with some wild or domestic animals may require a medical screen. Positions with exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels require a baseline audiogram. The results of a pre-employment physical will be considered in the context of the essential functions of the job. Upon request the University of Maine makes reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.

Human Resources will consult with Safety and Environmental Management and the hiring department to designate positions for which background checks and physicals need to be conducted. Once a finalist has been identified, a Supplemental Application Form(s), which includes a general release, should be completed and returned to the Office of Human Resources. To complete this form the individual is asked to provide basic biographical data as well as to disclose any information relating to the nature of the check. Because of the sensitive nature of background information, this information is not made available to the hiring department. The Human Resources office receives all background information and retains it in a secure location, separate from the personnel file.

Fees are charged to the hiring department for all credit checks, background checks and pre-employment physicals. Any annual follow up costs will be the responsibility of the department.

For more information about this process or for help in determining whether a position will require a background check or pre-employment physicals, please call the Office of Human Resources at 581-1580.

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