Arizona introduces stricter background check requirements for nursing homes and residential care facilities

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Arizona Governor Doug Ducey recently signed into law legislation that will strengthen background check for workers in retirement homes and assisted living facilities.

Senate Bill 1242, sponsored by Senator Tyler Pace, will improve the background checks required as a condition of licensing by the Board of Examiners for Nursing Facility Administrators and Assisted Living Accommodation Managers (NCIA). This will notably introduce fingerprinting requirements and bar those who have committed certain crimes from receiving licenses to work in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

In the Governor’s announcement, he said, “Our nursing homes and assisted living facilities deserve accountability and leadership from their supervisors. “SB 1242 accomplishes this. Our elders – grandmothers, grandfathers and family members – deserve nothing less to keep them safe, happy and healthy.

Under Arizona Rev. Stat. § 36-411 as a condition of authorization for residential care facilities, nursing facilities, and home health agencies, most employees and owners must be provided with valid fingerprint cards. This same requirement also applies to “individuals under contract or volunteer who provide medical services, nursing services, behavioral health services, health-related services, home health services, or support services.”

Employers would be required to ensure that such individuals receive fingerprint cards within twenty days of commencing employment or volunteering. Learn more

Now, under SB 1242, in addition to the previous fingerprint card requirements, applicants for work at any of the covered institutions will be required to submit a full set of fingerprints to the NCIA board. “for a state and federal criminal background check pursuant to Section 41-1750 and Public Law 92-544.” This is intended to reinforce background checks performed on all applicants.

Second, SB 1242 will prohibit those who have been convicted of crimes involving violence or financial fraud from receiving a license to work in covered facilities. The new law adds definitions for crimes that constitute “violence or financial fraud.” Examples include ‘sexual assault’, ‘homicide’, ‘theft’, ‘tampering’ and ‘impersonating another person or entity’. In total, the new law introduces 46 specific new definitions for which an individual would be prohibited from receiving a fingerprint card or license to practice.

The new law will also require the NCIA board to work with the Arizona Department of Health Services to design an expedited complaint referral and resolution process between the two agencies.

In light of these new requirements, nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and other covered facilities should immediately review their existing hiring process and revise it to comply with these new requirements. Failure to comply may result in civil penalties administered by the NCIA Board of Directors.

Make sure your company’s policies comply with state law by reading Fair Hiring Practices. Learn more by downloading our free resource at FCRA Adverse Action Notification Protocols.

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