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As some background, I have been in my current position for just over a year and I have nearly 20 years of experience in my field with two bachelor's degrees and a master's degree.

Recently, several of the employees in my department received an email asking for us to please "bring in a copy of your degree". I know that when I was hired, they verified my education with the registrar's offices at the universities where I received my degrees. When I inquired about why, I received no response other than they want to see the certificates I have hanging on the wall of my home office, which is a pain in the rear. I've never heard of an employer making a demand like this before, is this sort of thing commonplace?

Both my education and employment have been solely in the United States and my degrees are from reputable institutions (i.e. not diploma mills)

Update 22AUG2016 I asked my manager about this again and was told that it's some kind of pet project by our new director. He evidently didn't have enough to do...yet. Rather than simply comply and haul my stuff into the office, I decided to wait and see. Sure enough, it has never come up again. I do have pictures of my degree certificates on my phone just in case, but for now I'm doing actual work. The director in question now has a very full plate and is unlikely to return to the subject anytime soon.

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    they want to see the certificates I have hanging on the wall of my home office do they want to see how well-centered it is in the frame? They answered what do you want me to do (bring the hard-copy in) but you asked why do you want to see it. Ask again, be explicit. Have you inquired about this with your manager / higher-ups? – rath Apr 16 '16 at 19:11
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    I used mine to start a bbq years back, hope I don't get a job where they ask for a look at it. I've had an employer tell me to bring mine in once, but I just said no. – Kilisi Apr 16 '16 at 19:46
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    I've never heard of employers asking to see the physical diplomas after they already verified your education through the official channels, as obviously that would be quite silly. If you don't mind a white lie, you can always say you lost the diplomas in a move (happens, and not everyone frames or even keep their diplomas). – Chan-Ho Suh Apr 16 '16 at 19:57
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    @Kilisi: Nor could I find my diplomas, after ~20 years. But no problem: it's easy enough to get fakes printed :-) – jamesqf Apr 17 '16 at 18:20
  • This sounds like the guys in HR got bored and started a pool. "You get the engineering department, you get accounting, and I get finance, and the one where the most employees bring in their framed diplomas gets a free lunch from the others. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!" Yeah, there's really no good reason for this. – Nolo Problemo Apr 18 '16 at 22:18
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...is this sort of thing commonplace?

This would be the first I've ever heard of anything like that before or after hiring.

The reality your employer is overlooking is that the physical paper doesn't mean a thing; it really is just something to hang on your wall. Realistic-looking fakes are insanely easy to purchase, and unless your employer has access to information on what every university's diplomas looked like for every year they were issued and whose signatures should be at the bottom, they're not going to be able to tell one way or the other. Best case is they call the university registrar or use one of the commercial verification services and confirm that DLS3141 was indeed granted a Bachelor of Science in Underwater Basket Weaving in 1997. In other words, they do what they should have done before they hired you.

I know that when I was hired, they verified my education with the registrar's offices at the universities where I received my degrees.

What you know for sure is that you gave them enough information to run it down when you applied. Whether or not it actually happened is anybody's guess. The fact that HR is asking now leads me to think it probably didn't, they got burned by an employee who was faking it and are now scrambling to cover themselves. There may be another explanation, such as the records being lost or destroyed, but I'd think that would be something they'd fess up to instead of being tight-lipped about it.

HR doesn't need your cooperation to make the verification again; they still have your permission and could have done it quietly. The cynic in me says asking to see your diploma is a way to attempt it without incurring the labor and costs to do it the right way.

Whether or not you push back and demand a reason depends on how you feel about the chances of it backfiring, so I won't presume to give you any advice on how to proceed with that.

If their exact words were "bring in a copy of your degree," a cell phone snapshot of your diploma hanging on the wall would meet the spirit and the letter of their request.

  • The other side of this is that if DLS3141 has been working for a year, and is performing his/her job competently, why on Earth should they care what degees s/he has. Competent employees aren't THAT easy to find. – jamesqf Apr 17 '16 at 18:24
  • They don't need my permission to call the registrar's office, they just need to call. In fact, unless a student has specifically chosen otherwise (which is rare) anyone can call the registrar and ask about degrees granted to an individual and dates of attendance – DLS3141 Apr 17 '16 at 18:44
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    @DLS3141: Most of the applications I've ever filled out have a clause that says you give them permission to verify anything you've claimed. Either way, the whole thing smells fishy. – Blrfl Apr 17 '16 at 19:51
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    The release on the application is for background and credit checks. Anyone can call a registrars office and check someone's degree and dates of attendance. – DLS3141 Apr 17 '16 at 21:11
  • "HR doesn't need your cooperation to make the verification again;" - this is not true. I have specifically restricted my own information at my alma mater, so any inquiries need to be approved by me in advance. I did this as a matter of personal privacy. Ironically, no employer has ever requested this data. – BryanH Aug 22 '16 at 18:02
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It's not the norm, but I can think of several reasons:

  • Sudden paranoia - having found someone with invalid credentials in a key position
  • Business contact required it - for example, a contractor taking on a big new contract with new requirements may have to reverify if their records are bad
  • Insurance - probably only in key circumstances, but where the company needs to prove to an insurer that everyone on site is qualified
  • Lawsuits - the company was suddenly involved in a suit that claimed that other employees did not have a required degree and yet the claimant was singled out an persecuted for not having a degree.

Usually it's not just because HR has too much free time. :P

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    Your "sudden paranoia" item was very close to my first thought on reading this. The only difference being that I believe they've decided to terminate someone and believe that the person they want gone has falsified a statement about a degree. So to make it look like they aren't targeting this one person, they ask everyone to bring it in. I've seen drug tests and other random things done by HR departments to the same effect. In short, they are hoping a particular someone brings a bogus piece of paper in that the company can provably show is fake. – NotMe Apr 20 '16 at 22:00
  • @NotMe Remember that HR's primary function is to protect the company from the employees. If they make a general demand, no one can claim they are targeting an individual--even though they might be. The reasons listed above are all reasonable from HR's standpoint. – BryanH Aug 22 '16 at 18:04
  • But what sort of "proof" would a piece of paper have? A diploma is basically a piece of paper with your name on it. A fifth possibility is that the new manager is incompetent. – Dan Jun 22 '18 at 15:01
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Verifying degrees, I heard of which is simply picking up the phone and calling the university/college in question.

Now, did I ever heard of bringing your physical diploma? No, that sounds rather unusual to me. Having to lug around a huge picture frame with a diploma sound odd. Not only that, a diploma is basically a piece of paper with - possibly having - a raised seal of some sort. It can be faked very easily and not any sort of proof that you graduated or even hold a diploma at said place. It's in no shape or form "proof" that you attended, graduated, or done anything at all. If it was that simple, people be printing out diplomas left and right and giving them out like candy and no one be any wiser.

My diploma is hanging up on a wall at my parent's house. If I had to bring it in, I'd have to go there and figure out where it is. Now, for verification at my job, I gave a transcript or the background checking company simply verified it. Never brought in a physical diploma.

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