Employment & Selection - Staff Handbook

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Employment of Related Persons

Hiring Procedures

Internal Hiring/Promotion

Identification Cards

Pre-employment Physicals

Background Check Policy

Employment of Related Persons

Seattle Pacific University generally permits employment of close relatives on a concurrent basis. For purposes of this policy, a relative means a husband, wife, father, father-in-law, mother, mother-in-law, brother, sister, son, daughter, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, cousin, or grandchild, and their respective spouses, whether the relationship is established by blood, marriage or otherwise.


If the employment relationship between relatives could reasonably lead, or appear to lead, to business-related conflicts of interest, improper influence, favor, or consideration, the University usually shall not permit the concurrent employment of close relatives. Some examples of such prohibited situations are:

where one relative has, or would have, the authority or practical power to supervise, appoint, remove, discipline, or alter the terms or conditions of the other's employment;
where one relative would be responsible for auditing the work of another; or
where other circumstances exist which would place a relative in a situation of actual or reasonably foreseeable conflict between the University's interests and their own.

In addition, the University will generally not hire or continue to employ the close relatives of policy-level officers of other organizations or of individuals with whom the University does business, when such employment might lead to the reality or appearance of improper influence or favor, or to a breach of confidentiality.

If it becomes necessary because of any of the above circumstances to terminate the employment of one or more related employees, the University will usually permit the employees to decide which will terminate employment. If the related employees do not promptly decide, the University will generally make the selection after balancing the interests of the employees and the University.

Employees should not be allowed to participate in decisions relating to conditions or terms of employment for any relative who also works at the University.

Hiring Procedures

Applications for staff positions should be filed with the Office of Human Resources. As vacancies occur, arrangements are generally made with qualified applicants for testing (if necessary) and interviews.

All persons employed by Seattle Pacific University are expected to be familiar with and personally support its philosophy of Christian higher education including guidelines for social conduct, as stated in the University catalog, the mission statement and in this handbook. It is our firm belief that the redemptive and grace-filled environment we desire on campus is as much the responsibility of staff as it is of the faculty. All employees are members of Christ's body. For more information, please see "Lifestyle Expectations".

Identification Cards

Faculty and staff members should arrange through the Office of University Services to acquire a Seattle Pacific University identification card within their first few days of employment. ID cards are used for gaining access to the library, admission to University events, purchasing campus meal plans and using the faculty/staff bookstore discount.

Internal Hiring/Promotion

Seattle Pacific University has a strong history of offering support for professional growth within the University. Internal candidates for open positions may express interest in and request information regarding any campus position for which they are qualified. Interested candidates may contact the Office of Human Resources for information about the general process governing internal interviewing and hiring.

Pre-employment Physicals

Some positions may require a satisfactory post-offer, pre-employment physical. When this is the case, the job offer will generally be contingent on satisfactory examination results. If a physical examination is required, the University will select the physician and pay the cost.


Background Check Policy - effective 1-18-2011


Seattle Pacific University seeks to hire well-qualified applicants for available Faculty and Staff positions, and in the process maintain a safe and secure campus environment and protect the University’s financial and physical assets. To achieve this goal, the University has developed this policy regarding background checks and related inquiries.   Accordingly, effective January 18, 2011, it is the policy of Seattle Pacific University that:

  • All new employees, including Staff, Faculty, Temporary and Short-Hour employees, and Adjunct faculty, and also all new Volunteers will complete, at a minimum, a Criminal History and Sex Offender Registry background check as a condition of employment.   The University will determine, at its sole discretion, whether the results are satisfactory.
  • Selected  new and  current staff members as determined by an Area VP, particularly those with access to or control over financial or other sensitive information, will also have a Credit History completed, and may have their criminal and other background information verified periodically as a condition of continued employment. 
  • Current Faculty or Staff members who apply to transfer to a new position within the University will have the same Criminal History and Sex Offender Registry background check as all other new employees verified as a condition of employment.   
  • The University may conduct background checks on current Faculty or Staff or Volunteers as needed in response to a specific threat, concern or investigation. 
  • On an “as-needed” basis for new Staff and Faculty and Volunteers the following types of background checks may be completed:
    • Motor Vehicle driving record background check must be  completed for any new employee who drives an SPU vehicle and/or as part of their job is expected to be the driver for SPU students or employees on SPU business.   This Motor Vehicle driving record check will be repeated every three years for all employees who continue in a job with these driving requirements.
    • Education/degree/license/certification verification check will be completed if the Essential Qualifications of the job indicate an advanced degree or certification.   (Faculty may not need this if search committees always ask for official Transcripts)  


    • Physical Exam – in a very few cases the job may require a physical exam, which would be completed after the written offer has been extended, but before the employee begins to work.   
  • New Board of Trustee members will complete the Criminal History and Sex Offender Registry background check, and on an as-needed basis may also complete a Credit History check


Background checks are to be conducted by an outside vendor, and are to be in compliance with federal and state regulations.  Human Resources will maintain a budget to cover Criminal background checks for all positions on campus, and for Credit History and initial Motor Vehicle driving records for any position which may require these checks.  Normally the background check(s) will be initiated as part of a contingent written offer letter, and employment will not begin until and unless Human Resources verifies satisfactory results from at least the Criminal History and Sexual Offender Registry portion of the background check(s).  Temporary staff and Adjunct faculty will be allowed to begin employment, but continued employment will be contingent upon satisfactory results from the background check.

In the event that the results of the background check leads to a decision to withdraw the employment offer or to terminate employment, the Human Resources Department will inform the affected department and the individual.  Such background check results are considered confidential and will be maintained in confidential files in the Human Resources Department.

Violations of University policies, including providing false or misleading information used for any of the above background checks, will be handled in accordance with applicable University policies and procedures, up to and including denial or termination of employment.


Scope of Background Checks

Depending on the nature of the position, background checks may include some or all of the following components: 

Criminal Background and Sex Offender Registry Search:   (Human Resources budget will cover the cost for required checks)

Social Security Number Trace

This search reveals all names and addresses historically associated with the applicant’s provided number, along with the date and state of issue, and verifies whether or not the number is currently valid and logical or associated with a deceased entity.  This search may also reveal the use of multiple social security numbers, AKAs/aliases, and additional  information that can be used to determine other parameters of the background investigation.


Seven year Criminal County Courthouse Search

This search is a comprehensive courthouse search aimed at uncovering applicants with past criminal records at the state and county levels for all jurisdictions where the applicant has lived in the last 7 years (as determined by the address history associated with their SSN).  The search will include all felonies, misdemeanors, and violations (where available) from superior, county, AND municipal courts.


Multi-state Database Search

This search uses a database that collects information from the most recent data available from the Administrative Offices of the Courts, Departments of Correction, and county- and state-specific databases.  All database hits are verified at the courthouse to ensure the most current information is reported.  As needed, the vendor also can conduct a Federal Criminal Records Search utilizing the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) – a federally managed database. This search uncovers criminal court information from the 94 U.S. federal district courthouses, nationwide.

 Nationwide Sex Offender Search

The Nationwide Sex Offender Registry Search is a nationwide search against state and federal sex offender registries covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Typically, reported information includes full name of the offender, classification of the offense and the offender’s last known address. However, since these databases are state owned and operated, the level of detail provided about the offender may vary. This search will also provide photos of the offenders when available.

International Criminal Background Check

International applicants are screened using the same vendor as domestic applicants. The breadth and scope of permissible searches varies significantly by country, but may include:  Criminal Background Searches, Education Verifications, Employment Verifications, Driving Records and Credit Reports.


Education and/or Degree Verification    (optional – requesting department will cover costs)

The highest degree (including high school diploma or GED) earned by an applicant and dates of attendance will be verified through the issuing educational institution or appropriate academic verification clearing house.  

Motor Vehicle Driving Record Check  -  (HR budget will cover cost for initial pre-employment check)

This report will be obtained through the motor vehicle division of the state in which the applicant is licensed, and provides information relating to license class, restrictions, status and expiration date, violations, revocations, suspensions, accidents and insurance cancellations.

Credit History Check  - (HR budget will cover cost)

Credit reports will be obtained from one or more of the major credit bureaus.  These reports identify trade accounts, credit limits, balances, payment history, collection accounts, bankruptcies and tax liens. 

Employment Verification (optional – requesting department will cover costs)

Employment listed on the applicant’s employment application and/or resume will normally be verified by the hiring manager or search committee.  Human Resources can assist with these verifications if requested.  This service is also available through the Background Check vendor, and the fee would be charged to the hiring department.  While most companies will verify dates and position, we will attempt to obtain more detailed information, including eligibility for rehire, reason for leaving, job performance and salary, and when possible, speak to former supervisors and/or co-workers

Offers of Employment

All written staff offer letters or faculty contracts at Seattle Pacific University will be contingent upon satisfactory results from the required background checks associated with the position.   For regular staff and faculty positions, employment may not begin until after the background check process is completed.  Once the background check has been satisfactorily completed, Human Resources will notify the hiring manager or department, who then is responsible to communicate with the new employee and establish their first day of employment.

For Temporary staff and Adjunct faculty, employment may begin upon acceptance of a written offer letter or Adjunct faculty contract, either of which would stipulate that continued employment at SPU will be contingent upon satisfactory results from the background check.   If adverse information is discovered in the background check process, the principles and procedures will apply from the paragraphs “Making a Decision – To Hire or Not to Hire” and “Adverse Action Procedures”.   If the adverse information results in a “no hire” decision, the Temporary staff or Adjunct faculty will be immediately dismissed from employment.   Adjunct faculty will not need to repeat the background check unless they have not been employed at SPU for three years or more since their latest background check.

Authorization and Consent Forms

Applicants to whom an offer letter or contract is extended will be required to complete and sign a “Disclosure and Authorization” form, either online or on paper.  Refusal to complete and sign this form, or forms that are missing information or incomplete, will disqualify a candidate for a position of employment at Seattle Pacific University.  

In addition, current SPU employees who apply for a promotion or lateral move to another position on campus will be required to complete this Disclosure and Authorization form and undergo the required background check. 

Applicants being extended an offer letter or faculty contract will be given a copy of the Federal Trade Commission’s publication, “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” and any other documents required by federal or state law.

Requesting a Background Check

When the finalist for an open position has been identified, a request for a background check will be made to the University’s third party vendor.   Human Resources will initiate the Background Screening Request, including arranging for the Disclosure and Authorization form to be signed by the applicant.   Normally within three business days, the vendor will provide SPU with the results of the initial background investigation in the form of a Background Summary Report.

Making a Decision – To Hire or Not to Hire

Once the background check has been completed, the vendor will forward a Background Summary Report to the Human Resources office.  The report will be reviewed by Human Resources.  Recommendations about hiring a candidate or promoting or retaining an employee based on the results of a background check where there may be negative or adverse information will be made by Human Resources in consultation with the hiring manager or department and the Office of Safety and Security.  The final decision will be made by the Area VP based on an assessment of the risks to the University’s students, staff and faculty and to the University’s property and assets. 

Falsification of application materials, including failure to disclose any convictions, is grounds for immediate termination of employment or refusal of employment. 

Criminal convictions will not automatically disqualify an applicant from employment.  The University will consider factors such as the nature of the crime, the age of the individual at the time the crime was committed, the length of time since the conviction, the nature of the position and the job-relatedness of the conviction, the individual’s employment history and employment references.

Employee’s whose positions require driving University owned vehicles or to drive SPU students or employees, are required to maintain an unrestricted, valid driver’s license and to maintain a safe driving record.  Employees must promptly report any changes in restrictions in their driver’s license to their supervisor and Human Resources. 

All current SPU employees must immediately notify their supervisor and Human Resources of a conviction for a felony, first or second degree misdemeanor, or any drug, alcohol or sex-related offense.  Failure to report such conviction is grounds for disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.  

Adverse Action Procedures - updated 10/31/2013

If the University determines that it intends not to hire a candidate or promote an employee based on any part of the information obtained through a background check, the University will initiate the Adverse Action process in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting guidelines.  A Preliminary Adverse Action letter will be sent to the candidate or employee so that the candidate or employee has an opportunity to identify any inaccuracies or provide relevant information. The candidate or employee will be given a reasonable period within which to respond (usually 7 to 10 days after the date of the letter, depending on the circumstances and manner of delivery). If appropriate, a final Adverse Action letter will be sent to the candidate or employee. The Preliminary Adverse Action letter affords the candidate an opportunity to challenge the information provided in a background check report and to take steps to correct inaccuracies or provide explanation.  A final employment decision should not be made by the hiring department until new information is gathered and considered or at such time that the applicant or employee fails to respond within the permitted time limit. The University also complies with the requirements of Chapter 14.17 of the Seattle Municipal Code, to the extent required.

Record Retention Guidelines

Seattle Pacific University will ensure that background checks are conducted in compliance with all federal and state regulations and that information obtained from a background check will be used as part of the employment process and for evaluation of a candidate’s suitability for employment at the University.   All information will be filed separately from employee files and will be kept strictly confidential, and will be retained for the period of time required by applicable federal or state law.

The University reserves the right to amend this policy concerning background checks at any time.