More than 80 members of the Illinois Electronic Security Association (IESA) “rocked” out Wednesday night, Nov. 11, at what presenter Ed Williams amusingly coined Alarm Aid.
Actually, I guess you could say they “PERC-ed” out.
Referencing the 1980’s Farm Aid benefits concerts, Williams, general counsel for the IESA, was a featured speaker for the association’s PERC Nuts & Bolts seminar and Annual Meeting, held at the Holiday Inn Chicago – Elk Grove in Elk Grove Village, Ill. Williams is a former Illinois State Police Officer and long-time defense attorney specializing in administrative law, with Permanent Employee Registration Card (PERC) regulations and litigation his primary specialty. His presentation was a point-by-point overview of the PERC application process.
The state of Illinois requires all employees of security dealers, regardless of duties, to have a PERC. The card indicates that the holder is authorized to be an employee of a state-licensed dealership. It remains valid for three years, at the end of which it must be renewed by the cardholder.
As part of the process of getting an Illinois PERC, employees are subject to an Illinois State Police and FBI criminal background check. Based on fingerprinting, the background check provides a criminal history of the employee across all 50 states and U.S. territories. Dealers may face substantial fines if they are found to employ an individual who does not hold a valid PERC. And an equal or greater amount of embarrassment usually follows.
With his considerable knowledge of the regulations – Williams served on the industry committee that revised the act requiring the PERC – and timely wit, Williams presented a substantial amount of technical information that kept the attendees engaged without being overwhelmed with jargon. Williams regularly presents the material to small groups, and he used anecdotes about the foibles and successes of some of his current and former students’ – some of whom were in attendance –to illustrate the challenges that completing the PERC process often creates.
The resounding point that came through the presentation is the need to ensure that every employee that works for your dealership has a PERC, and that it is up to date. Record keeping is key: Should a PERC-holding employee be arrested for a felony or misdemeanor, the employing dealer is not notified. Arrests are reported to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Professional Regulation, which maintains a monthly report of department actions on its Web site. The burden to review that report, and to take action if it reveals anything, lies with the employing dealer.
Dealers are required to keep a PERC file, which contains a company application, a recent photo of the employee, and an employee statement and work history, as well as a basic training certificate, Williams said. He also suggested that the PERC file be kept separately from employee personnel files. This keeps the file easily accessible – and clear of private personnel files – in the event the agency is audited.
“Everyone must be PERCed,” Williams said. “It’s not worth the potential fallout that comes for not doing it. And it must be done before the employee starts any work.”
Similar rules are in place in a variety of states. Check with your individual state government office for licensing information in your state.
The evening was capped off with the IESA annual meeting, during which Williams was presented with the President’s Award for service provided to the association in 2009. Following the award and the evening’s business, David Koenig, treasurer of the Electronic Security Association (formerly the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association), gave an overview of the many developments that the national association has seen over the course of the year and highlights for the upcoming year, including the Electronic Security Expo 2010 in Pittsburgh, June 14 to 20, 2010.
Koenig also talked about two programs designed to develop new young talent in the workforce. The first is a new, Federally-approved apprenticeship program that the association is rolling out in 2010. “It’s always been a challenge,” Koenig said about attracting new, young workers to the industry. “The apprenticeship program may be a path to growing a pool of full-time workers.”
The other initiative, the Young Security Professionals program, offers networking, best practices and education to security management personnel ages 25 to 45. The group encourages community work, education, mentoring and support to grow young talent.