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.
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.