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References and Background Investigations Procedure - 63.06.05

College Policy Number/Title:

When references or background investigations are required for Howard Community College job applicants or current employees, meeting these requirements will be a condition of employment.

Reference Checks for Applicants

When recruiting to fill a budgeted position, the college recommends that the hiring manager complete three or more reference checks on an applicant prior to extending a job offer.  Preferably at least one of these will be an external professional reference.   If reference checks or background checks have been conducted within the past six months, and the employee is starting a new position within the college, new reference and background checks may not be required prior to the start of the new job.

When filling an adjunct or hourly/temporary position, the college recommends that the hiring manager complete at least one external professional reference check prior to extending a job offer.   An exception can be made for work-study students not working with children.

Background Investigations

A pre-employment or post-employment investigation of an applicant’s or employee’s background serves several purposes:  (1) to promote a safe environment for students and employees; (2) to protect organizational assets including people, property, and information; and (3) to enable the college to make prudent hiring decisions based upon comprehensive job-related information. 

Background investigations may include some or all of the following:   (1) criminal background investigations by college authorities or an outside service provider including local and national searches depending on the requirements of the position and state and federal law;* (2) credit reports when handling money and finances is involved in the job and approval is given by the area vice president or president; and (3) drug testing when required by law or when authorized by the area vice president or president. 

When background investigations are required as a condition of employment, applicants or current employees will be required to complete and sign certain consent documents.  Such consent is also a condition of employment. The college retains the right and authority to conduct background investigations concerning all current employees or job candidates.

Reports received as part of the background investigation process will be maintained as part of the recruitment records for job candidates and employment records for employees. 

Decisions on hiring a candidate or retaining an employee, based on results of background investigations where there may be negative information, will be made by the area vice president or the president in consultation with human resources.  Before the decision is made, the applicant or employee will be given a chance to review the negative report and dispute or explain the contents. The decisions will be based on an assessment of the risk to college students and employees related to the information contained in the report, and will consider the nature and gravity of the offense or conduct, the time that has passed since the offense or conduct, and the nature of the position being sought or currently held.   

Inquiries about Current and Former Employees

All inquiries made by outside parties, such as potential employers and financial institutions, with regard to the employment history of present or former employees, will be directed to the office of human resources for handling.  The office of human resources will provide dates of employment, job title, and verification of salary, if the employee has provided a signed consent form requesting and authorizing the release of information. Additional information may be given out by a supervisor or colleague provided that the reference is approved by the office of human resources and that the consent form covers the release of the additional information. 

Campus Crime Reports and Registered Sex Offender Information

In accordance with college procedure, 63.06.09 Campus Crime Reports and Registered Sex Offender Information, the college will not hire any convicted sex offender.

*For example, Maryland State Law requires that all child care workers or any employees who work alone with children or have access to children be fingerprinted and have Maryland State and FBI background checks.

Effective Date:  02/10/17

President's Office Use:  VPAF

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