This post was contributed by Adam R. Long, a Member in McNees Wallace and Nurick LLC’s Labor and Employment Group and Osazee Imadojemu, a summer associate with McNees. Mr. Imadojemu will begin his third year of law school at George Washington School of Law in the fall, and he expects to earn his J.D. in May 2013.

Prior to a 2006 amendment to the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law ("CPSL"), employers covered by the CPSL’s mandatory pre-hire criminal background and child abuse history record check requirements were limited and well defined. Specifically, the statute applied to "all prospective employees of child-care services, prospective foster parents, prospective adoptive parents, prospective self-employed family day-care providers and other persons seeking to provide child-care services under contract with a child-care facility or program." Covered employers knew that before an employee was hired, that applicant needed to obtain these background checks.

With the 2006 amendment, the prospective employees covered under the statute expanded considerably. Section 6344.2 was added to the CPSL, and it required any employee hired into a position with a "significant likelihood of regular contact with children, in the form of care, guidance, supervision or training" to obtain a Pennsylvania Criminal History Check, a fingerprint-based national criminal history record check processed by the FBI, and a Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Record Check. This includes occupations such as such social service workers, hospital personnel, mental health professionals, members of the clergy, counselors, librarians and doctors.

Pennsylvania employers with positions covered by the 2006 amendment should ensure that they identify those positions within their organizations subject to the mandatory background check requirements and that they obtain the mandatory pre-hire background checks. Many employers currently are considering whether and to what extent to conduct pre-hire criminal background checks, and Pennsylvania employers should be aware of this little-known requirement.