Act 15 Clarification on Background Check Requirements for Employees and Volunteers

On July 1, 2015, Governor Wolf signed into law House Bill 1276, now known as Act 15 of 2015, which helps clarify the requirements pertaining to criminal history background clearances (now called certifications) for employees and volunteers. Additionally, Act 15 waives volunteer certification fees for state background checks. Below is an overview of some of the major changes, as a result of Act 15:

Employee Background Certifications

Administrative and Support Personnel – The requirement for school employees to have background certifications does not apply to administrative or other support personnel unless the administrative or other support personnel has direct contact with children. Direct contact with children is defined as the care, supervision, guidance or control of children, or routine interaction with children. Routine interaction is the regular and repeated contact that is integral to a person’s employment responsibilities.

Deadline and Renewal of Certifications – The certification renewal deadline for employees has been changed from 36 (3 years) to 60 (5 years) months and is from the date of the employee’s oldest certification. If an employee does not have certification, was not previously required to have certification, or his/her current certification is older than 60 (5 years) months, he/she must obtain the required certification by December 31, 2015.

Volunteer Background Certifications Prohibited – An employer, administrator, supervisor or other person responsible for employment decisions is prohibited from accepting a certification that was obtained for volunteer purposes. However, background certifications obtained for employment can now be used for volunteer assignments.

Fees for Background Certifications for Employees – On June 10, 2015 Governor Wolf announced that the fees for Child Line and State Police certifications would be reduced on July 25, 2015 from $10 to $8 each.

Volunteer Background Certifications

Volunteers Requiring Certification – Volunteers applying for or holding an unpaid position as a volunteer with a childcare service, a school or a program, activity or service, with a childcare service, a school program, activity or service, as a person responsible for the child’s welfare or having direct volunteer contact with children.

Direct Volunteer Contact – Direct volunteer contact is defined as the care, supervision, guidance or control of children and routine interaction with children. Routine interaction is the regular and repeated contact that is integral to a volunteer’s responsibilities.

Waiver of Fees for State Background Certifications – Background Certification fees for state certifications (Child Line and State Police) are waived for volunteers beginning July 25, 2015. However, the fee for a federal criminal history report is not waived. Volunteer background certifications will be provided free of charge once every 57 months, but they may not be used for employment purposes.

Federal Criminal History Certifications – Volunteers are not required to provide federal criminal history certifications if: (1) they have been a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during the entirety of the previous 10 year period; or (2) if not a resident of the Commonwealth during the entirety of the previous 10 year period, have received a federal criminal history certification at any time since establishing residency in the Commonwealth and provides a copy of the certification to the person responsible for the selection of volunteers.

Deadline and Renewal of Certifications – If a volunteer does not have the required background certification, was not previously required to have certification, or his/her current certification is older than 60 (5 years) months, he/she must obtain the required certification by July 1, 2016. A first time volunteer requires certifications by August 25, 2015.

Non-resident Volunteer Certifications – A non-resident volunteer is allowed to serve on a provisional basis not to exceed a total of 30 days in a calendar year if the volunteer is in compliance with the clearance standards under the law of the jurisdiction (state) where the volunteer is domiciled.

As a result of these changes to the law, the District may need to revise District policies regarding volunteers and certifications. Please let us know if you would like our firm to review any appropriate District policies and make recommendations for revisions to the District.

If you have any questions as you move forward in the implementation of changes as a result of Act 15, please do not hesitate to contact Judy Shopp at js@mbm-law.net or 412.242.4400.