As many as one in three Americans have some level of a criminal record. Unfortunately, it has proven to be more difficult for formerly incarcerated individuals to obtain jobs than those without a record. As a result, the unemployment rate for those convicted of a crime is alarmingly high.
To combat this, the government has been proactive in passing laws that give previously incarcerated individuals a fair chance in the workforce. Fair chance hiring practices have been implemented at federal, state, and local levels. They aim to prevent an employer from considering an applicant's criminal history before hiring them.
An example of this is the adoption of Ban the Box laws, which are designed to provide fair employment opportunities to individuals with criminal histories by preventing employers from asking about an applicant's criminal record until later in the hiring process. These laws are becoming increasingly common, with over 35 states and 150 cities and counties having some form of Ban the Box legislation. If you're an employer, here are some best practices to consider when implementing Ban the Box policies:
Review your hiring practices and policies to ensure compliance with Ban the Box laws. This may include revising job applications and interview scripts to remove questions about criminal history and ensuring that criminal background checks are only conducted at the appropriate stage of the hiring process.
Train your HR staff and hiring managers on the requirements of Ban the Box laws and how to comply with them. This may include guiding how to conduct criminal background checks and how to assess the relevance of an applicant's criminal history to the position in question.
Consider implementing a "fair chance" policy that considers an applicant's criminal history only after other qualifications have been evaluated. This can help prevent biases and ensure that qualified candidates are not immediately disqualified based on their criminal record.
Provide clear and accurate information to applicants about the timing and process of criminal background checks. This can help ensure that applicants understand the context of the inquiry and can provide accurate and complete information.
Maintain appropriate confidentiality of an applicant's criminal record and use this information only to evaluate their qualifications for the position in question
By following these best practices, employers can help ensure compliance with Ban the Box laws and provide fair and equitable employment opportunities to individuals with criminal histories. It’s important to remember that Ban the Box laws are intended to promote equal opportunity, not to eliminate the use of criminal background checks altogether. By adopting responsible hiring practices, employers can create a safer and more inclusive workplace while also ensuring that they have the right personnel for the job.