Georgia Expands Background Check Requirements for Long-Term Care Facility Employees

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With instances of elder abuse on the rise, many states have enacted laws that aim to protect this vulnerable group using background screening measures as a defense. Georgia recently passed legislation – the Georgia Long-term Care Background Check Program – that calls for more extensive policies and background checks. The new requirements go into effect October 1, 2019.

What the Law Covers Now

Under the existing law, only care workers with “direct access” to residents of the facility are required to undergo a name-based criminal background check that identifies crimes committed in the state of Georgia. This narrow search leaves gaping holes for potentially missed criminal records that could disqualify an applicant from employment and does not take into consideration screening owners of these facilities.

The New Law

The new law expands both the screening method and the individuals who are required to have a background check, including “owners, applicants for employment, and direct access employees at certain facilities.”  Facilities include: personal care homes, assisted living communicates, private home care providers, home health agencies, providers of hospice care, nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities and adult data care facilities. 

Once the new law takes effect, the scope of the background check must be expanded to include searches of the FBI database, Georgia Crime Information Centre and various registries (such as the sex offender registry, nurse aide registry and List of Excluded Individuals and Entities). Individuals who have lived outside of Georgia for the past two years will also be subject to a search of any sexual offender registries in states they have resided in the previous two years. 

Time to Comply

Although the law goes into effect for new applicants on October 1, 2019, current employees and owners have until January 1, 2021 to comply. Long-term care employers should consult qualified legal counsel to review the expanded requirements and the impact to their current screening processes to avoid potentially costly penalties. 

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