Ban the Box Updates: What Employers Need to Know

What are Ban-The-Box Laws?

By now, most HR professionals and hiring managers have heard of Ban the Box and the legislation that is sweeping the nation. In simplest terms, Ban the Box means that employers cannot ask on a job application or in certain parts of the hiring process about criminal history. For example, blanket statements like, “have you ever been convicted of a crime?”

These laws aim for employers to focus on applicants’ qualifications first, without blanket no-hire policies due to past criminal activity. In most cases, employers must wait until a conditional offer of employment before asking about criminal history or conducting a background check.

On December 20, 2021, the Fair Chance Act went into place to give previous offenders a chance to find work in the United State Federal Government. The Fair Chance Act will “Ban the Box” asking about arrest and conviction history on job applicants for most Federal agencies and contractors. These questions and the background check cannot be started until the conditional job offer has been extended.

The Federal Government has this in place for it’s employees and contractors. What does this mean for Private Employers or Local Governments across the country? This is where you’ll need to dive in a little deeper!

According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP) there are currently 37 states and over 150 cities and counties have adopted similar laws.

 

What steps can you take to be compliant?

Navigating Ban the box laws can be confusing. We recommend, as a first step, consulting with your legal counsel. They’ll be able to look at your company profile, industry, and location to see what, ban the box laws apply to you.

You’ll want to take that information and then review your job descriptions and applications. You’ll also want to be sure your hiring managers only ask about the criminal industry during the correct time in the hiring process.

Whether these laws will apply to your organization will depend on several factors:

  • Company size
  • Location(s) you hire in (City, Counties, and States)
  • Are you a public or private employer?
  • What is your industry? Different regulations can apply to education, childcare, health care, law enforcement etc.

NELP has a detailed chart that is updated several times throughout the year to see whether your city, county or state has a policy or law.

While Public employers appear to be moving to Ban the Box quicker than Private employers, the lists continue to grow.

Currently, 15 states have Ban the Box in place for Private employers. These include:

 

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Furthermore, 22 cities and counties have Ban the Box in place for Private employers. These include:

Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL; Columbia, MO; DeSoto, TX; District of Columbia; Kansas City, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Montgomery County, MD; New York­, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; Prince George’s County, MD; Rochester, NY; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Spokane, WA; St. Louis, MO; Suffolk County, NY; Waterloo, IA; and Westchester County, NY.


What’s next?

It’s important to remember that background checks are still a crucial part of the hiring process. Not even the Federal Government, which has adopted Ban the Box entirely, is removing background screening from their hiring process. The safety of your employees, customers, and your organization’s reputation is still important.

As these laws continue to sweep the country it’s always best practice to ensure that your background check process is up to date. Then when it’s time to run the background check after a conditional job offer, you can keep things moving quickly.

One Source always recommends reviewing these four areas:

  • Background Check Policy
  • Disclosure and Authorization
  • Quality of Data
  • Adverse Action

Reach out to our team if you have any questions on ways you can follow compliance laws and regulations. Or you can learn more about how to stay compliant through our blog, Blueprint to a Compliant Background Check Process.

What Non-profits can Benefit from a Reliable Background Check Provider

Non-profit organizations understand, now more than ever, that accomplishing their mission rests on the shoulders of the people they hire and the volunteers that serve. Gone are the days when anyone willing to show up qualifies to represent the organization and its mission.

To safeguard against risks posed by employees and volunteers, most non-profit organizations have implemented background screening in their onboarding programs. They may conduct background checks internally by accessing state criminal record repositories and/or inexpensive “instant” online background checks or partnering with a professional background check provider.

Though not all background check providers are created equal, there are some notable benefits for non-profits partnering with the right one.

So, what do nonprofits need to look for in a reliable screening provider?
We recommend the three E’s – Expertise, Efficiency, and Effectiveness

Expertise

A reliable background check provider is a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA). To be accredited means they are an expert in the screening industry and the local, state, and federal laws that govern it. Be sure to partner with a background check company that follows the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA which includes numerous regulations that govern the onboarding practices for employers and non-profits included, across the United States.

Efficiency

Non-profits are tasked with being good stewards of their money and maximizing every dollar they receive. They want to devote their time, talent and treasure to their mission which may leave little to spend on other top priorities like quality staffing and onboarding procedures. While cost-efficiency in background screening is critical, “the cheaper the better” rarely rings true and may increase risk as the cost of the background check is not always indicative of its quality or accuracy.
An efficient background check provider should have these services to provide you with the answers you need to make an informed decision:

  • Automation Capabilities
  • Mobile-friendly Processes
  • Customizable Solutions
  • Real-time Data

Effectiveness

Non-profits need thorough background checks to maximize their recipients’ safety and fulfill their mission. The reports need to comply with FCRA and similar regulations. Above all, the reports should be fully customizable to serve the unique needs of every organization. The right background check provider aligns with the non-profit’s values and empowers its goal of onboarding volunteers and employees through informed decisions.

By entrusting their screening to a reliable background check provider nonprofit leaders can provide an additional layer of protection for their organizations and those they serve.

If you are interested in learning about best practices in volunteer screening, make sure to read our blog. Whether you’re considering volunteer screening for the first time or you’re a well-seasoned veteran, learn how to create an efficient screening process for your volunteers, here.

3 Reasons Why Companies Should Utilize Social Media Checks

The gold standard in background screening has traditionally been the pre-employment background check on a candidate before extending an offer. Times have changed, though, and so has the information available to onboarding managers.

While it’s important to know if your potential hire has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, falsified employment, or education information, etc., you may also want a glimpse at any possible behavioral issues the candidate exhibits that could put your organization, clients, or team members at risk.

A great way to gather this information is through Social Media Screening. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or a scan of media and news outlets, it feels almost natural to pursue someone’s social media for a closer look into their life. Here are three reasons why many of our clients utilize Social Media Screening.

Enhance Safety Within the Organization

It’s crucial, and social media checks can aid in this process during onboarding. These checks offer information on applicants’ social media accounts to provide a more precise picture of their behaviors and personality online and limit the risk of onboarding those who don’t align with the basic code of conduct or your core values. Illegal activity, violence, or sexually explicit material posted on their accounts is flagged, shared on the report, and sent to the onboarding manager to review.

Prevents Potential Discrimination Accusations

Outsource. Outsource. Outsource. Outsourcing your social media screening can help diminish potential workplace discrimination during the onboarding process. Scrolling through an applicant’s account can put you in a sticky situation if you try to do the screenings yourself. You want to make sure you have an unbiased view so you don’t encounter compliance issues.

It can also go the other way. Suppose an applicant’s account shows potential issues involving race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, or age discrimination. Social Media checks will flag the content for review, so you don’t risk onboarding that individual.

Prevents Reputation Risks

Your team members are the face of your company and what you stand for. When they aren’t at work, anything they do or say can reflect on your company, good or bad. There is a lot of pressure for companies to be consistent with their policies and values with an online presence. Social media checks can show how an individual presents themselves to the internet – meaning you can see a report of any flagged content that might not align with your company’s values and could make your company look bad.

To learn more about Social Media Screening, check out Should social media checks be included in screenings or contact our Client Relations Team.

Personal Identifiable Information (PII) Protocol Updates

Tightening access and privacy on personal identifiable information (PII) is always top of mind in the screening industry. In response to the national trend to increase PII privacy, adjustments are being made, implementing stricter PII protocols for their courthouses. Some are already in effect, and others start in January 2022. Learn what states are impacted and how this affects the screening industry.

Where will you find policy changes?

In September of 2021, California began redacting date of birth PII from their public access terminals in the courthouses. It is essential to know that this information is still on the hard copy court file. As for the online court records accessible to the public, those records have date of birth PII removed. 

Note: This rule is not new to California; it is now being complied with by the courts within the state.

In addition to California, Michigan will begin redacting the consumer’s date of birth from court records beginning January 2022. While the entire state is scheduled to redact the date of birth on records by January 2022, some Michigan counties have already started implementing this change.

How does this impact the screening industry?

With states redacting PII, this will cause inevitable delays and the potential for additional paperwork. The Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) requires consumer reporting agencies to have more identifiers than just a name; this will add more time to reports when researching possible records in those states.

Suppose the court allows additional research to be conducted. In that case, this is usually completed by a record researcher with boots on the ground, meaning a physical person is going into the courthouse to request the records physically, causing a ripple effect of extended delays. Some cases in the court may require a signed release from the consumer.

Note: One Source will always communicate what is necessary from our clients to complete a search.

If you are interested in learning more about this ever-changing landscape, here are a few links to discussions within the industry.

  • Read about the Michigan redaction from the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) here.
  • Read about the California redaction from the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) here.
  • Listen to industry-recognized professional and host of the Background Check Radio, Kevin Bachman’s podcast here.

We are unsure if other states or municipalities will follow suit. Stay connected to One Source to stay up to date on the screening industry dynamic.