Early this year, Michigan’s Governor Whitmer signed the Older Michiganians Act into law, mandating background checks for senior care employees to protect older residents. In addition, the act will require employees, subcontractors, and volunteers who directly work with seniors to undergo regular background screenings every three years.
These new regulations became House Bill 4325, amending the Older Michigans Act, which regulates services intended for aging residents of the state. These amendments require “area agencies on aging” to perform criminal background checks on virtually all personnel as well.
The act explicitly requires employers to perform background checks on all newly hired and existing employees, subcontractors, employees of subcontractors, and volunteers who will have:
- In-person client contact;
- In-home client contact;
- Access to the personal property of a client; or
- Access to the confidential information of a client.
Performing criminal background checks on new hires and volunteers is required before any individual gains access to clients, their property, or confidential information, along with an updated background screening for all employees and volunteers every three years. This is to identify any convictions occurring after the individual was hired or began volunteering.
The screenings must include a criminal history check, such as the ICHAT service offered through the Michigan State Police, and a search of national and state sex offender registries. Furthermore, employers cannot allow employees and volunteers to access seniors’ property or information if they have entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, found guilty of a range of state and federal offenses, or faced convictions including but limited to:
- Violent crimes such as murder or assault;
- Financial crimes such as fraud;
- Sex crimes such as sexual assault or rape;
- Cruelty or torture;
- Abuse or neglect; or
- Felonies involving the use of a dangerous weapon.
Employers can find more information concerning what offenses preclude employment under this legislation in Chapter XXA of Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.145m to 750.145r. In addition, several exceptions and specific offenses may disqualify an individual, depending on the period that has elapsed since it occurred. Therefore, it’s recommended that employers review the details of the legislation when considering whether an offense may disqualify an individual.
Employers may only use information gained from a criminal background check to determine suitability for employment or volunteer opportunities. Therefore, agencies must store a copy of the results of each background check in a secure and confidential file. The filing must include a comprehensive list of all employees and volunteers required to undergo a background check, the provider who conducted the screening, and the most recent date the background check was run.
These new laws will go a long way in ensuring seniors are cared for properly within Michigan. But, inevitably, this adds a new challenge to the hiring process for senior care employers within the state. Working with a trusted background check provider is vital to ensuring your organization is compliant and updated with ongoing new regulations.