PERB finds County must bargain over background check procedures for current employees

In Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers Association v. County of Santa Clara (7/25/13) PERB Dec. No. 2321-M, the Union filed an unfair practice charge against the County of Santa Clara (“County”).  The charge alleged the County unilaterally changed its policy regarding background evaluation requirements for current employees.  The Public Employment Relations Board (“PERB”) decided that where a public employer imposes a further background check on employees who have already undergone a background evaluation as a condition of employment such a decision implicates employee working conditions, including reassignment, discipline and job security.

Both the employer’s decision and its effects were within the scope of representation, or subjects of bargaining.  PERB found the purpose of the County’s implementation of the background checks affected employees’ working conditions, as opposed to being a decision made for the purpose of enhancing public safety or the quality of public services.

Thus, while the negotiability of criminal background check policies depends on the facts and circumstances of each case, employers are generally required to bargain with Unions about the decision to impose additional background checks on existing employees.

By Alan Crowley | August 13, 2013

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