Over the past several years, more than 33 states and 150 cities have created laws prohibiting employers from asking applicants if they have ever been convicted of a crime. These laws are called “ban-the-box” rules and businesses must shift their hiring practices to meet the requirements of the laws. As Congress considers a federal ban-the-box law, called the “Fair Chance Act,” let’s dig into what the law could mean, how it could impact your business and how to keep your hiring process compliant.
Origin of ban-the-box laws
Job applications often include the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Check yes or no.” That leaves the 60–70 million Americans who have a criminal record no choice but to check the “yes” box. Employers have used this question to narrow down their applicant pool without knowing the specifics or timing of candidate’s crime. Because of this hiring practice, those with criminal records have high unemployment rates, and studies show ex-offenders who do not find work are much more likely to commit another crime.
Ban-the-box laws have been introduced across the country to keep employers from asking about criminal history in initial job applications. Under these laws, it is illegal to disqualify an applicant from consideration just because they have a criminal record. Employers must at least know an applicant’s offenses to make an informed hiring decision.
Organizations working in security or with vulnerable populations are generally exempt from ban-the-box laws.
How you can meet ban-the-box requirements
Compliance with these kinds of laws and secure hiring practices are absolutely not mutually exclusive. With slight adjustments to your organization’s processes, you can build a safe workforce and in accordance with the law.
If necessary, update your organization’s application forms—removing criminal history questions and making sure outdated applications are completely inaccessible. You may also need to train your hiring managers how to handle applications and interviews to stay ban-the-box compliant.
Even if a state or city does not have a ban-the-box law, it is becoming more common for companies to voluntarily remove criminal record questions from applications. If your organization chooses not to ask upfront about criminal history but still needs to consider criminal offenses, decide when in the hiring process would be best to inquire about a background check.
To give all applicants a fair chance and make informed hiring choices, partner with a background check agency giving you a comprehensive report of applicants’ criminal records. Background reports will show you what crimes an applicant was convicted of, how long ago the crimes were and how relevant they are to your organization.
With the assistance of background checks, you can accommodate ban-the-box laws and make the best possible hiring choices for your team. Contact our Client Relations team to learn more about criminal background checks and how One Source can help you.