Blog

 
     

Pennsylvania State Senate Closes Background Check Loophole

By Michael Klazema on 5/18/2016

In 2014, Pennsylvania passed one of the most sweeping packages of background check legislation ever, as the state legislature responded to the infamous Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State University. The package of bills contained some two-dozen child welfare laws, several of them calling for background checks of adults who work with children. Under the laws, for instance, even parent volunteers at schools have to pass background checks.

However, in the process of updating their child welfare laws, someone made a blunder. One of the laws had previously listed positions where employers should always run background checks of the people they hire. This list included jobs like doctors and hospital staff, members of the clergy, and other positions that provide adults with regular or semi-regular contact with children. When the laws were revised and repackaged in 2014, though, this list of specific jobs disappeared from the legislative record. As a result, the law change could be interpreted as exempting people in those positions from background check requirements.

According to a report from PennLive.com, most hospitals in the state—at least all of the ones that the site interviewed—continued running background checks on their doctors and staff as they had before. In other words, it doesn't seem like anyone took the law change as a license to stop screening doctors or other high-responsibility professionals.

Still, the worry that an employer could stop vetting employees who spend considerable time with children was enough to scare Pennsylvania's state legislature into action. PennLive says that the State Senate has unanimously passed a measure that clarifies the law. Under the new Senate bill, it would be explicitly clear that healthcare professionals and clergy members have to pass background checks before they can work with children.

The loophole isn't closed just yet, though. While the State Senate voted 48-0 to approve the bill, that vote was just one step in the legislative process. Next, the bill will go to the House for approval. If it gets a passing vote there, it will head to the desk of Governor Tom Wolf. Only with Tom Wolf's signature will the law clarify that people in the healthcare industry and the clergy must have background checks to work with children.

In other words, the Pennsylvania state legislature is jumping through quite a few hoops to fix a mistake that could presumably have been easily avoided the first time. Ultimately, the final result—a set of laws that maintains the extra protections of the 2014 reform, but includes this key clarification—will be worth the process. Still, this incident should serve as a reminder that even small details are highly important in background check-related laws.

Source: http://www.pennlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/05/senate_acts_to_close_loophole.html

Industry News

Tag Cloud
Categories
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.


  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.
  • June 04 The organization, The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi (FRCNMS) was founded on the belief that families are the heart of community and that promoting healthy families leads to healthy communities. Read more about how they carefully screen and vet new employees with the help of backgroundchecks.com.
  • June 01 Past mistakes can have lingering effects in criminal records that appear on background checks. People with minor convictions can erase those mistakes for help starting over. 
  • May 29 The city of Greenley, Colorado has added background checks and new affidavits to its process for screening candidates for city council. The new measures come after a candidate with a felony conviction for forgery got elected as city councilman.