Background Check FAQs
Below are frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding background checks at UNC-Chapel Hill.
The University is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for students, faculty, staff, affiliates, visitors, and other constituents and to protecting its funds, property, and other assets. Well-informed appointment decisions facilitate this effort.
Therefore, the University does not employ individuals with prior criminal convictions who pose an unacceptable risk to the University or its students, employees, and visitors. The background check policy establishes procedures for carrying out a background check for prospective employees/appointees.
- All Faculty Appointments: paid or unpaid, permanent or temporary, including adjunct, fixed-term, tenure track and tenured, prior to each initial appointment.
- All EHRA Non-Faculty Appointments: permanent (full-time or part-time) or temporary (full-time or part-time), prior to hire, promotion, or transfer.
- All SHRA permanent Appointments: (full-time or part-time) or temporary (full-time or part-time), prior to hire, promotion, or transfer.
- UNC-Chapel Hill Independent Contractors: see the Independent Contractor Policy for more information.
- Certain Unpaid Affiliate Appointments (volunteers, interns, and visiting scholars): see the Policy on Unpaid Volunteers, Interns, and Visiting Scholars for more information.
- Post-Doctoral Fellows, Medical Fellows, and Chief Medical Residents: prior to hire.
- Individuals Who Have Contact with Minors: see the Protection of Minors standard for more information.
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC Select Agents): individuals covered by regulations related to access or use of chemical or biological agents, as determined by the University’s Department of Environment Health & Safety prior to hire and periodically thereafter as required by regulations.
SHRA employees who are promoted and transfer to a new position of a different appointment type (i.e., SHRA to EHRA or EHRA to SHRA) must have a new background check. EHRA Non-Faculty employees who are making a job change to a new position, either through a competitive recruitment or a waiver of recruitment from the Equal Opportunity and Compliance (EOC) Office, must also have a new background check. Faculty must have a new background check when they are promoted conferring tenure and when there is a temporary to permanent job change.
If a background check has been completed within the last twelve (12) months, the results may be used for a subsequent position or appointment if it meets the criteria of the new position. If it does not meet the criteria for the new position, additional background check components will need to be completed.
The Background Check Supervisor or Background Check Consultant, in consultation with the respective central office (e.g. Employment, Academic Personnel Office (APO), EHRA Non-Faculty HR, etc.), will assess whether or not the previous background check results are valid based on the requirements of the new position/appointment and included, driving, professional licensure, degree verification, or debarment checks (when applicable). Once the results are evaluated, the Background Check Unit will communicate the results to the background check initiator.
Yes. If the individual has no SSN, the candidate must indicate YES for the field “International no SSN” on the background check candidate questionnaire.
It depends. A background check is not required for UNC-Chapel Hill students if their employment is “incidental to” their primary role as a student – such as graduate assistants or work-study students. However, a background check is required for certain UNC-Chapel Hill students such as Resident Advisors who have contact with minors and/or sensitive populations.
If a student graduates or does not re-enroll and the department wishes to continue their employment, the “temp/student” assignment must be terminated, and they must be hired as a regular or intermittent “temporary” employee. This would include a student who is working in a temporary capacity during the summer but who is not enrolled in classes during the summer terms or returning in the fall term. Such hires require a background check.
An individual whose primary purpose for being at UNC-Chapel Hill is to work as a temporary or regular employee — even if they are also registered for one or more classes is considered an “employee” rather than a “student” and is subject to the background check requirement.
Yes. Any finalist who is employed at another State agency or university must have a background check completed by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Background Check unit.
The following background check components will be conducted:
- a residency history and social security trace (including SSA Death Master file)
- a criminal convictions check for all municipal and state jurisdictions in which the covered individual has lived or worked within the last seven (7) years (results reported by the consumer reporting agency beyond this time frame may be considered)
- a criminal convictions check of federal court records
- a national sex-offender registry check
- a check of applicable federal debarment databases (Office of Inspector General and System for Award Management) for covered individuals in paid appointments
- a driver’s license record check of applicable state motor-vehicle licensing agencies for any covered individual whose formal duties include driving as an essential requirement for the position, positions in which the assigned duties require an individual to drive a motor vehicle or positions in which an individual may be required to drive a State-owned vehicle
- an education credential check for any covered individual whose position requires a degree from an accredited educational institution
- a professional licensure check for any covered individual whose position requires a professional license
Yes. In compliance with federal requirements, candidates give permission by electronically signing the Application for Employment and Disclosure and Authorization Release for the background check. If a candidate declines to give permission, a background check will not be conducted. Since a background check is a requirement for employment or appointment, candidates who decline to give permission for the background check cannot be employed or appointed by the University.
The university uses a secure, web-based system to initiate and conduct background checks. When a background check is required, the background check initiator in the appointing department submits a request for a background check by completing the Background Check ePAR. The candidate will then receive an email requesting that they either log in to ConnectCarolina or create a Guest ID to complete the online background check process.
Additional written communication is provided only if a candidate is potentially disqualified, either wholly or in part, due to the results of the background check. In that case, certain notifications are required under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Under these circumstances, if a background check is a factor in the appointment decision, the candidate must be provided with the following material:
- a certified letter (pre-adverse letter) indicating that adverse results found on the background-check report could result in a determination that bars employment/appointment
- a copy of the background check report; and,
- a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act”
The candidate has five (5) business days after receipt of the materials listed above to provide a written explanation regarding the adverse results in question, or to challenge the accuracy of the results with the consumer reporting agency.
A second certified letter (final adverse letter) must be sent to the candidate after the five-day period if the background check results were a factor in the decision not to hire the candidate.
No, previous convictions do not automatically disqualify a candidate from consideration for employment/appointment. Eligibility depends on a variety of factors including the nature of, and circumstances surrounding, the crime; time elapsed since the conviction; pattern of offenses; rehabilitation record; actions and activities of the individual since the crime (including his/her work history); truthfulness and completeness of the candidate in disclosing the conviction; and the relevance of the conviction to the job.
If a current employee is discovered to have:
- falsified information on current or previous applications and/or
- failed to disclose convictions following the previous hire/appointment and/or
- the results of the background check are relevant to their current duties,
appropriate action will be taken, up to and including dismissal. In addition, as part of the application process, all employees have a duty to report any convictions that have occurred subsequent to and following commencement of service to the University under the Reporting of Criminal Convictions for Current Staff, Non-Faculty and Faculty Employees, Student Employees and Affiliates.
Candidates must disclose all names used and all addresses of residences from the age of 18. Candidates must also disclose all non-expunged criminal convictions and serious driving infractions including guilty pleas, guilty verdicts, prayers for judgment (PJC), and non-contested charges. Reportable convictions include not just “serving jail time,” but also paying fines or restitution. Examples: DUI, DWI, worthless checks, violations of local ordinances or state laws that result in fines, misdemeanors, felonies, etc. State law allows the candidate/appointee to not refer to any arrest, charge, or conviction that has been expunged from his/her record.
Candidates should list all convictions, even if the candidate thinks the incident was minor. If a candidate is unsure of his/her record, he/she may obtain a copy of his/her criminal records from the appropriate county courthouse (such as the Wake County Courthouse). A candidate may obtain a copy of his/her driving record from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Falsification, including misrepresentation or a failure to disclose information (omission) on the disclosure and authorization release, may disqualify a candidate from employment/appointment whether or not the falsification was intentional. Current employees may be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
The Background Check Unit in the Office of Human Resources (OHR) communicates the background check result to the appointing department through the Background Check Summary, which is available once the background check process is completed.
If the background check includes adverse results, OHR will consult with the appropriate central office and appointing department. This may include a request for additional information or consultation regarding the convictions found, depending on the type of position for which the candidate has applied.
If the appointing department decides not to proceed with appointing the candidate/appointee due wholly or in part to the results of the background check, then the Office of Human Resources provides written notice to the candidate, consistent with federal requirements – both before and after any action is taken. Please refer to the background check policy and supplemental procedure for details.
Once hired, an employee may request a copy of their background check results by submitting a request to the Office of Human Resources (OHR) Records & Information unit.
Additionally, if adverse action was taken due wholly or in part due to the results of the background check, the Office of Human Resources will provide appropriate contact information in its written notification to the candidate so they can obtain a copy of the information that was provided to the University.
The appointing department is responsible for the cost of a background check. The current price list for background checks is available here. Currently, prices vary depending upon the components included in the check. The background check is conducted at no cost to the candidate/appointee.
The Finance & Accounting division has advised that departments charge the background check cost to funds that match the position’s funding. For example:
- If a position is primarily funded by state monies, then the background fee can be charged to a state account.
- If a position is primarily contract or grant funded, the background check fee can be charged to a grant account. However, the department must do the following:
- Use one of the specific Chartfield Fund codes associated with the contract or grant.
- Provide the corresponding project ID (Fund codes beginning with 252XX must be accompanied by the corresponding project ID).
- If a department has other funds, then those funds may be used for background check fees.
A driver’s license check is mandatory for individuals where driving is required to perform their duties, or who would be expected in performing their regular duties to be required to drive a University/State-owned vehicle. The appointing department’s background check initiator answers a driving-related question when submitting a Background Check ePAR, and the candidate/appointee provides driver’s license information on the online background check questionnaire.
The University uses a web-based system to initiate and conduct background checks. If a background check is required, the appointing department’s background check initiator will request a background check by completing a Background Check ePAR. Once the candidate/appointee completes the background check questionnaire, the Background Check Unit will evaluate the ePAR, select a background check package, and submit the background check request to the vendor.
Users designated as background check initiators must be permanent HR representatives (complex HR users) or select business office users (e.g. individuals who are responsible for managing the background check process for UNC independent contractors). User access requests for temporary employees or basic HR users will be denied (even if they were designated by the department’s HR Officer or Business Manager).
Department representatives seeking access to the background check system must submit a signed Request for HR Systems Access Form to the appropriate department Access Request Coordinator (ARC). You can find the name of your ARC here.
No. To ensure confidentiality, departments will not receive a copy of the background check results. However, they will be able to view the completed Background Check Summary in Connect Carolina. The summary document indicates that the background check is complete and either “clear” or “not clear.” The background check summary document also contains other key information needed for the appointing department to complete the hire/appointment actions.
If the background check results confirm that there are no convictions and it is deemed to be “clear”, the appointing department should contact the respective Talent Acquisition Partner or EHRA Non-Faculty HR Consultant to determine next steps including when to finalize the offer of employment and establish a start date.
The Office of Human Resources strives to notify appointing departments of clear background check results (i.e., those that contain no adverse results) within seven (7) business days after the background check is initiated. However, depending upon the number of names of record the candidate has used and the number and location of out-of-state jurisdictions that must be checked and/or adverse results, that timeframe may sometimes be exceeded.
An order status of “completed” indicates that the background check has been completed by the university’s background check vendor and the results are being assessed by the Background Check unit.
Once the background check results have been assessed, the Background Check unit makes a determination (in the case of adverse results, in consultation with the appointing department head and/or school/division HR Officer or their designee) and indicates the following in the Final Results field on the background check Summary page: “clear,” “not clear” or “cleared without driving privileges.”
“Clear” indicates that the background check has been cleared and the department can proceed with the next steps in the hiring/appointment process. “Clear without driving privileges” indicates that the background check has been cleared; however, the candidate/appointee is not authorized to drive if driving is an essential function of their duties. “Not clear” indicates that the background check has not been cleared and they are barred from appointment.
Background Check Unit
Office of Human Resources
Administrative Office Building
104 Airport Dr., Suite 1100
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Campus Box #1045
Background Check Hotline: 919-962-5742