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Conducting Criminal Record Checks in Rhode Island

Filed under Office & HR.

Employers in Rhode Island are permitted or required to conduct criminal record checks in accordance with these rules.

Employment questions dealing with criminal records can only be related to convictions, not arrests or charges. Applicants must be informed in writing of any disqualifying information found in the background check. Employers are required to keep on file evidence that criminal background checks have been obtained for all employees as well as the results of the checks.

Effective January 1, 2014, employers of four or more are prohibited from inquiring about an individual’s criminal background on a job application. However, employers are permitted to inquire into criminal arrests, charges, and convictions in job applications, or in other ways, prior to the first interview where a federal or state law or regulation creates a mandatory or presumptive disqualification from employment based on an individual’s conviction of one or more specified criminal offenses, or where a standard fidelity bond or an equivalent bond is required for the job applied for and a conviction of one or more specified criminal offenses would disqualify the applicant from obtaining such a bond.

Applicants for employment in Rhode Island facilities licensed or registered with the department of health whose employment will involve routine contact with a patient or resident without the presence of other employees must undergo a statewide criminal background check prior to or within one week of employment.

Child care facility and youth serving agency operators, employees and job applicants are required to undergo a criminal background check as a condition of employment.

Fingerprinting is required as part of a background and criminal record check for certification of personnel who provide services to very young children, including owners and operators of preschool programs and full- or part-time employees, such as teachers, aides, secretaries, food handlers, bus drivers, volunteers and student teachers. Applicant's fingerprint cards must promptly be destroyed at the conclusion of the background or criminal background check.

Individuals 18 years and older seeking employment in any facility or program licensed or funded by the Department of Mental Health will be required to undergo national criminal background checks to determine whether they have been convicted of a crime that bears upon their fitness to be responsible for the safety and well-being of the persons residing in or receiving services from the programs or facilities.

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