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Criminal Background Checks Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Criminal Background Checks
Faculty, Academic Staff, & Executive Management -Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Units

These questions and answers pertain to the criminal background check policy implemented on February 1, 2010 for faculty and academic staff. 

For information regarding criminal background checks for student employees, regular, temporary and on-call support staff employees, please contact HR Staffing Services at 517-353-3720, or staffingservices@hr.msu.edu.

Please note that HR Staffing Services runs all criminal background checks for student employees, regular, temporary and on-call support staff employees. Departmental users who have access to HireRight are only authorized to initiate a criminal background check for faculty, academic staff and executive managers.


General Requirements

Who is required to undergo a criminal background check?
All paid faculty, academic staff, and executive management appointments, including visiting and on-call appointments, for which an offer of employment is made on or after February 1, 2010 are required to undergo a criminal background check. This does not apply to individuals to be appointed as postdoctoral fellows.

Do foreign nationals need to undergo a criminal background check?
Foreign nationals who come to the University directly from residence outside of the US 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 US, the individual is required to undergo a background check, permitted the individual has been in the US for 6 months or longer.

How do I initiate degree verification for foreign nationals in HireRight?
After you login to HireRight and select whether you or the applicant will complete the forms, you will then select the “Education Only - Foreign Nationals Pkg” package instead of the “Standard” package. The “Foreign Nationals” package contains degree verification only.

Are individuals to be appointed at the rank of postdoctoral fellow required to undergo a criminal background check?
No. Individuals to be appointed at the rank of postdoctoral fellow are not required to undergo a criminal background check. These individuals are not considered employees of the university.

Are individuals changing from an on-call appointment to a fixed term or continuing system appointment required to undergo a criminal background check?
Yes. Individuals who have never had a criminal background check before and are changing their appointment status from an on-call to a fixed term or continuing system appointment are required to undergo a criminal background check.

My unit hires academic staff members for one semester only every year (e.g., every fall). Are these individuals required to undergo a criminal background check if they already underwent one last year?
Yes. Individuals who incur a break in employment of 6 months or greater are required to undergo a criminal background check.

If the degree on record has previously been verified, you will want to select the package called "Standard without Education." Since it was previously verified, it does not need to be re-verified. However, if the employee has since received a new degree, please use the “Standard” package and ask the employee to include the new degree to be verified.

My unit has rehired a faculty/academic staff member who retired from the university. Are these individuals required to undergo a criminal background check?
Individuals who incur a break in service of 6 months or less are not required to undergo a background check. However, individuals who incur a break in employment of 6 months or greater are required to undergo a criminal background check.

My unit is hiring graduate assistants for summer academic appointments. Are these individuals required to undergo a criminal background check?
If the appointment is one where the individual will hold an academic rank, these individuals are required to undergo a criminal background check.

Are individuals changing from a fixed term position to a continuing system position required to undergo a criminal background check?
Yes. Individuals who have never had a criminal background check before and are changing their appointment status from a fixed term appointment to a new continuing system appointment are required to undergo a criminal background check.

Are individuals changing from a support staff position to faculty, academic staff, or executive management position required to undergo a criminal background check?
It depends. A criminal background check is required if the individual has never undergone a criminal background check at MSU or if the individual has incurred a break in service of six months or greater. A criminal background check is not required if the individual has undergone a criminal background check and has not incurred a break in service of six months or greater. However, degree verification is still required. In this case, please select the “Education Only - Foreign Nationals Pkg” package instead of the “Standard” package.


HireRight Access and Training

Who initiates the criminal background checks for faculty and academic staff?
Criminal background checks for faculty and academic staff will be initiated at the academic unit level.

Where do I need to go to initiate criminal background checks?
Michigan State University has contracted with HireRight, an outside vendor, to perform the criminal background checks. The login for HireRight is located here: https://www.hireright.com/login.aspx

How do I gain access to HireRight to initiate criminal background checks?
Contact your unit security administrator to request access. Your unit security administrator will need to forward your name and contact information to Human Resources records at records@hr.msu.edu to request access to HireRight. The subject line of the e-mail should state “HireRight Access for Faculty/Academic Staff".

How do I get trained on using the criminal background check system?
When you receive access to the HireRight system, you will also receive an e-mail for access to HireRight University. HireRight University is the official training website for the HireRight system. It provides 5 modules for you to enroll in and complete. Each module contains a short quiz at the end. Training must be completed prior to accessing the HireRight system.

I was taking the training from HireRight University and module 6 asks “Is your HireRight account adjudicated?” How should I answer this question?
You should answer “Yes” to this question. MSU’s account allows for central HR review of all cases which are returned with a “pending” status.

I was taking the training from HireRight University and the modules referenced a “Super User.” Who is the “Super User”?
The Super User is Kara Yermak, Human Resources Manager. Kara Yermak can be reached at 517-884-0185 or at yermak.kara@hr.msu.edu.

I was taking the training from HireRight University and the modules referenced a flagging system. Are we using the flagging system?
Yes, MSU is utilizing the flagging system. However, it is only be utilized as a tracking method for internal central HR purposes only.

Are there additional resources available on how to initiate a background check beyond the HireRight University training modules?
The HireRight system has a “Resources” section which contains training & documentation materials. You may find the “Resources” section by logging into the HireRight system and clicking the “Resources” section on the left hand side of the screen.


HireRight Process

Please also refer to the Criminal Background Check policy for detailed information regarding the process.

What does the criminal background check include?
The criminal background check will include the following:

  1. Verification of Social Security Number
  2. Examination of county criminal records (county of current residence)
  3. Examination of state criminal records (recent residences)
  4. Examination of federal criminal records
  5. Examination of sex offender registry (nationwide)
  6. Examination of federal debarment lists
  7. Degree verification

However, a more comprehensive criminal background check may be required pursuant to state or federal law or for certain sensitive positions (such as those with significant financial responsibilities).

If a more comprehensive criminal background check is required (e.g., credit history, motor vehicle records), how do I proceed?
If a more comprehensive criminal background check is required, please contact central HR at 517-355-1526. Central HR will initiate criminal background checks which require a more comprehensive background check.

What is the average turnaround time after a criminal background check has been submitted?
The average turnaround time after the criminal background check has been submitted to HireRight is 72 hours. Delays in turnaround time do occur. Please allow at least one to two weeks processing time for each background check in the event of a delay. A delay can occur for any of the following reasons:

  1. The information has been entered incorrectly by the applicant or the requestor into the HireRight system.
  2. The institution listed by the applicant for degree verification does not accept an electronic authorization form. In these instances, a wet signature is needed by the applicant on the authorization form.
  3. The institution listed by the applicant for degree verification is delayed in providing a response to HireRight.
  4. 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 HireRight.
Additionally, a turnaround time of at least two weeks for a request that is submitted for degree verification from an institution outside of the United States can be expected. International institutions have different practices and requirements which may cause a delay in HireRight's verification process. In particular, degrees obtained from India require that requests be mailed to the institution. Please allow for at least two to three weeks processing time in these cases.

What information is required from the applicant in order to initiate the criminal background check?
The following information is required:

  1. Applicant Name
    1. First Name
    2. Last Name
  2. Applicant Contact Information
    1. Address
      1. Street Address
      2. City
      3. State
      4. Zip Code
      5. Country
    2. Phone Number
    3. E-mail Address*
  3. Applicant Identification
    1. Social Security Number*
    2. Date of Birth
  4. Education*
    1. First Name while attending school
    2. Last Name while attending school
    3. School or College/University
    4. Location
      1. Country
      2. City
      3. State
    5. Degree
    6. Major/Area of Study
    7. Date Degree Received

* Denotes if applicable. If not applicable, applicant should indicate this.

What if I need to run a criminal background check for a faculty or academic staff member and he/she is a relative of mine?
If the faculty or academic staff member is a relative, another authorized user in the unit will need to initiate the criminal background check. If the unit does not have another authorized user, central HR will initiate the criminal background check. In this instance, please contact Academic Human Resources at 517-355-1526.

My applicant has multiple degrees, but the system only allows the applicant to enter one degree. Which degree should the applicant enter into the background system?
The applicant should enter the highest degree earned. For example, if the applicant has received a Masters degree, but is working towards a PhD degree, the applicant should enter the Masters degree into HireRight.

What if an applicant does not hold a degree? Is the applicant still required to undergo degree verification?
No. If the applicant does not hold a degree but is required to undergo a criminal background check, the applicant should check the “Not Applicable” box within the “Education Information” section of HireRight.

What do I do if the “New” button does not appear on the Screening Manager tab in the electronic HireRight system?
If the “New” button does not appear on the Screening Manager tab, this is in error. Please contact Kara Burt at burtk@hr.msu.edu or 517-884-0185 to have this fixed. An alternate route to initiating a criminal background check can be reached by clicking the “Background Forms” link on the side bar and then clicking the second “Background Forms” link. Two buttons will appear which gives the user the option to complete the background form or invite the applicant to complete the background form.

What does it mean if I get an e-mail from HireRight stating the status of the background check “Meets Company Standards”?
A status of “Meets Company Standards” means that the applicant has satisfactory background check results.

What does it mean if I get an e-mail from HireRight stating the status of the background check is “pending”?
A status of “pending” may occur for a variety of reasons. Some common reasons are:

  1. A discrepancy has been found regarding the applicant’s degree information.
  2. An institution is not able to provide a response regarding degree verification.
  3. Criminal felony or misdemeanor records have been found on the applicant’s record.

All background checks with the status of “pending” require central HR review. Central HR reviews background checks with a “pending” status daily. After central HR review, you will either receive an e-mail notification from HireRight stating that the status has been changed to “Meets Company Standards” or you will be contacted by central HR for additional follow-up.

Am I authorized to view the results of the criminal background check and degree verification?
You are not authorized to view the results of the criminal background check. However, you are authorized to view the results of the degree verification. To view the results, click on the applicant’s name in the HireRight system after the degree verification has been completed and the degree verification results will appear.

What HireRight information is required for submission with AHR forms (e.g., appointment form, change of status, reappointment form) for a criminal background check?
Evidence of satisfactory completion of the criminal background check must accompany AHR paperwork. The e-mail notification from HireRight stating the applicant “Meets Company Standards” will suffice.

Further, if the department initiates the criminal background check on behalf of the candidate the original authorization form (all six pages) must be submitted as an attachment to the appointment paperwork.

In most cases, the AHR pre-populated forms will indicate that a criminal background check document or degree verification document is a required attachment.

Who is responsible for covering the cost of the background check?
The cost of the background checks is covered centrally.

staffingservices@hr.msu.edu
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