This month, several key bills concerning criminal background checks for employees and applicants were introduced or modified. One bill (A3227) introduced on October 6, 2008 would require criminal background checks for owners and employees of businesses providing services that require entry into a person’s home (e.g., maids, electricians, furniture delivery persons, etc.). The criminal background check, which would be conducted by the Director of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, would certify that owners and employees of such home service enterprises have not been convicted of certain types of dangerous crimes. The Director also would be required to consider whether any disqualified individual has been successfully rehabilitated such that the prohibition on home-service employment would be waived. Home-service businesses would be responsible for an annual registration fee to defray the cost of the background checks.

A second bill (A2735) would preclude state criminal history background checks used for employment purposes from containing information about certain crimes that occurred more than seven years prior. Specifically, any crimes of the third or fourth degree, or of a disorderly or petty disorderly persons offense (other than a sex offense pursuant to Megan’s Law), would be excluded from the criminal background check report if older than seven years, unless the individual has been convicted of another crime or offense within the past seven years. (Note: this exclusion would not apply to individuals seeking employment positions in law enforcement, probation or corrections).

On October 23, two bills (S110 and S70) concerning background checks for school employees were approved by the Senate, and will now go before the Assembly for consideration. S110 would revise the criminal record checking process for all school employees who come into contact with students. Among other changes, school employees who have been employed since prior to 1986 (the year criminal record checks became required for new, but not current employees) will for the first time be required to submit to a criminal record check, and all school employees will be required to submit to a new federal criminal record check every two years. The bill also would add to the list of disqualifying criminal offenses (adding prostitution, peering, etc.). S70 would require background checks for members of the Board of Trustees of charter schools.