The Chicago Tribune recently reported new legislation approved by the Illinois Senate geared toward increasing safety among workers in group home settings. Known as Paul’s Law, the legislation is named for 42 year-old Paul McCann – a resident of a downstate group home who was brutally murdered by an employee at the facility. It passed the Senate unanimously and now heads to the Governor for his signature. The senate unanimously approved a bill aimed at preventing violence that could potentially be avoided in part through more thorough employment screening efforts.
Paul’s Law makes several changes to state law aimed at toughening oversight of group homes. Among its provisions – placing independent observers in facilities where residents are believed to be at risk, a state review of facilities’ funding and licenses which have seen claims of neglect and abuse, and requiring regular employment background checks of group home employees.
If approved, Paul’s Law will subject workers to background checks prior to hire, and current workers would be subject to background checks every six months. Any worker with a violent felony conviction or anyone found to have been involved of cases of abuse or neglect must be terminated. Additionally, the records would be open to the public.
A Matter of Taking Reasonable Care
What this law is really doing is making clear an employer’s already existing obligation to take reasonable care in the hiring process in order to avoid the consequences of negligent hiring and retention.
When you look at what creates a case of negligence, the standard question is, “was reasonable care taken to avoid the negative consequence?” If an employer fails to take reasonable care when hiring an employee and that employee later causes harm – it’s extremely like the employer will be held responsible. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not enough to limit background checks to before an individual is hired. Negligence can also happen when an employer keeps an employee on board when they know or should have known something happened that would cause them to become unfit for the job.
Employers have to remain diligent and Paul’s Law simply formalizes a process for employers to do so. When it comes to employment screening Paul’s Law has two components:
- Pre-Employment Screening: Checking the background of all employees before hiring.
- Ongoing Screening: Monitoring employee backgrounds during their employment tenure.
At Proforma we offer both types of employment screening conveniently and affordably. We invite you to learn more by requesting a free initial consultation.