Ask the Expert: Background Checks for Church Employees and Volunteers

Do you have questions? We have answers. At the office, we often notice clients asking similar questions. Each month we’ll answer some of our most commonly asked questions in hopes of helping you with your advisory needs.


We have volunteers and staff that have been with us for more than five years. They work with children and youth. How often should we renew a criminal background check for them?


Churches need a policy regarding background checks that includes pre-hire as well as frequency of checks post-hire (or volunteer engagement). While there is no legal requirement for follow up checks, it should be done periodically as directed by your personnel handbook. It is possible that an employee or volunteer may commit a crime after working for the church even if he or she has a clean record going in. Employers need to determine a practical frequency of background checks that work with budget and convenience. Given the concern for safety for children, church members, staff and others, a background check every two to five years is not unreasonable. In addition to a background check policy, require employees and volunteers to notify you of an arrest, (although the responsibility lies with the employee or volunteer).

-Becky Davee, CPA Partner 

For questions about background checks and other church-related issues, please contact Becky DaVee, CPA, Salmon Sims Thomas & Associates.