University Policies
Policy Contact
Director Recruitment and Staffing Operations Email 401-863-1785

Pre-Employment Screenings Policy

Policy No. Issue Date Effective Date

1.0 Policy Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to define the University’s policy that ensures candidates are accurately represented to the University and no potential or actual conflict of interest exists to hire an employee.

2.0 To Whom the Policy Applies

This policy applies to Brown University staff. 

3.0 Policy Statement

To promote the safety and security of the Brown community, employment reference checks, and various types of pre-employment screenings are conducted prior to an employment offer to a selected candidate. In addition, those who accept offers of employment will be required to undergo a criminal background screening and other background screenings as applicable prior to commencing work in a staff job. This policy and related practices are managed under applicable state and federal laws and regulations.

All applicants for staff positions, including former employees, are subject to:

  • Verification of employment, which includes references 
  • A Criminal Background Check
  • Other appropriate background screenings that are satisfactory to the University and deemed necessary based on the specific duties of the position 

3.1 Reference Checks

Employment reference checks will be conducted when a candidate, internal or external, is identified.  In some cases, and with written permission from candidates, University Human Resources will authorize reference checks to be conducted earlier during the interview process to support a hiring manager in identifying a final candidate. A minimum of three professional reference checks should be collected, one of which must be from a supervisor.

For existing employees, hiring managers can review the employee’s performance appraisal as part of the candidate selection process by reaching out to University Human Resources. Hiring Managers must speak with the employee’s current supervisor to obtain a reference before an official offer can be extended. 

3.2 Criminal Background Screening

A criminal background screening will be conducted for all external candidates offered staff positions. This background screening will be initiated after a conditional offer of employment is accepted and is expected to be completed as early as possible following the employment offer. 

For current employees hired into another position at the University, a criminal background screening will be required only if one was not conducted as part of the hiring process for a previous position. University Human Resources will review background screening results for internal and external candidates seeking to be hired into a staff position.  

Criminal background screening results that disclose prior criminal convictions will be reviewed in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Such information will be used solely for the purpose of evaluating a candidate’s suitability for employment. Criminal convictions do not exclude candidates from consideration for employment.

3.3 Additional Background Screenings:

Depending on the nature of the responsibilities of a position, additional background screenings (beyond criminal background) may be required. These additional screenings may include, but are not limited to, any of the following:

  • Educational credentials (highest level of degree, license, or certificate completed)
  • Motor Vehicle Records Check
  • Credit History Check
  • Substance Screening test

Current employees applying to another position that requires one or more of the screenings as stated above will be treated the same as external candidates.  

4.0 Definitions

For the purpose of this policy, the terms below have the following definitions:

Criminal Background Check:

Includes County Criminal Felony & Misdemeanor  Records Search, Federal Criminal Records Search, Sex Offender Registry Search, Widescreen Plus National Criminal Search and SSN Trace.

Credit History Check:

Subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) the information returned will vary according to the candidate’s credit file. Credit scores are not returned. Note: because the request for credit information is for employment purposes, the request will only result in a ‘soft inquiry’ on the consumer’s credit file - meaning that the request should not affect the candidate’s credit score.

Education Credentials:

Verifies degree information; school and dates attended.

Motor Vehicle Records Check:

Identifies the name, license issue and expiration date, license status, license number, license type, endorsements, restrictions, driving violations and suspensions.

Substance Screening:

Options include urine, saliva, blood and hair testing.

5.0 Responsibilities

All individuals to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy. University supervisors are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure compliance with it. 

5.1 Candidates

Internal or external candidates may be asked to provide additional information that is necessary to complete the background and screening process.

5.2 Supervisors

Supervisors are responsible for conducting thorough reference checks on finalists prior to requesting a hire. 

5.3 University Human Resources (UHR)

UHR is responsible for authorizing only those screenings that are appropriate to the position being filled. UHR must obtain consent to conduct background screening(s) and must confidentially maintain results. 

6.0 Consequences for Violating this Policy

Failure to comply with this and related policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment or association with the University, in accordance with applicable (e.g., staff, faculty, student) disciplinary procedures. 

A candidate who knowingly and materially misrepresents information to the University may be subject to removal from further consideration of employment for a position or termination from the University.   

7.0 Related Information

This policy is not a legal document. This policy does not confer a term of employment, nor is the language intended to establish a contract of employment, express or implied, between any employee and Brown University. The University reserves the right to change, amend or terminate any of its human resources policies at any time for any reason.

Brown University is a community in which employees are encouraged to share workplace concerns with University leadership. Additionally, Brown’s Ethics and Compliance Reporting System allows anonymous and confidential reporting on matters of concern online or by phone (877-318-9184).

The following information complements and supplements this document. The information is intended to help explain this policy and is not an all-inclusive list of policies, procedures, laws, and requirements.

7.2 Related Procedures:

7.3 Related Forms:

7.4 Frequently Asked Questions


Policy Owner and Contact(s)

Policy Owner: Vice President for Human Resources

Policy Approved by: Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration

Contact Information:

Director Recruitment and Staffing Operations Email 401-863-1785

Policy History

Policy Issue Date:

Policy Effective Date:

Policy Update/Review Summary:

Formatted to comply with the new University Policy Template. Policy disclaimer notice added in section 7.0 on May 8, 2020. Policy footer removed on June 19, 2020. Policy superseded by this policy:

  • Reference and Background Screening (20.014); revision date, January 30, 2019