What Indiana's New Background Check Law Means for Healthcare Employers
A new law has expanded the requirements for criminal history checks on employees and owners of home health care and personal services facilities in Indiana. As of July 1, 2016, employers must complete an expanded or national criminal history check on all new hires, and no employee without the check can serve patients in their residences. Owners are also subject to the criminal history check requirement and conviction for specific offenses prohibits anyone from owning a facility or providing services to a patient in his or her home.
Requirements of the New Law
Changes to State Statute IC 16-27-2 as a result of Senate Bill 350 apply to owners and employees of home health and personal services agencies. Employers must request an expanded or national criminal history check within three days of a new employee's commencement of work, and owners cannot employ someone to provide services in a patient's residence for more than 21 days without receipt of the results of the check.
Prior to the changes, the law required only a limited criminal history check, which only includes felonies and class A misdemeanor arrests within Indiana. The expanded criminal history check includes history of all counties in Indiana where the individual resided and those of any other state where the individual lived. The national criminal history check contains information from all state and federal jurisdictions.
In addition, owners, officers, managers and alternate managers of the agency are also subject to the expanded or national criminal history check provision. Any changes in the holders of these positions must be reported to the Indiana Department of Health on company letterhead with the results of the check for the new officer attached.
In all cases, the history check must cover an individual's lifetime and is not limited to a certain time period or number of years. Any individual convicted of rape, exploitation of an endangered adult or criminal deviate conduct at any time in their lives are excluded from owning a facility or working in patient care. The same exclusion applies to anyone convicted of theft within the last 10 years or of failure to report battery, neglect or exploitation of an endangered adult at any time.
If the convictions occurred outside of Indiana, the same exclusion applies for equivalent offenses in the relevant jurisdiction.
Potential Gray Areas
Although the requirement for an expanded criminal history check within three days for new hires seems to exclude people already working for the agency, another clause of the statute says that the agency cannot employ someone to work in patients' homes for more than three days without requesting the check and no more than 21 days without receiving the results. Therefore, all employees regardless of hire date are subject to this requirement.
How to Comply With the New Law
Healthcare employers should conduct expanded criminal history checks on all employees if they have not already done so. They should also update their human resources information to inform staff that the check will be required of all new hires. Agencies should ensure they have up-to-date record keeping, as the Indiana Department of Health may request proof of criminal history checks during a routine survey or in response to a complaint. Since expanded criminal history checks must be conducted for an individual's lifetime, ensure the record clearly indicates that this is covered by the search and that the search was not limited to a shorter period of time.