Written by: Anne Swenson, HR Coordinator, MidwestHR
The list of cities, counties and states adopting “Ban the Box” is growing quickly. Currently, 13 states, Washington D.C. and 69 cities and counties have written the new fair chance policy into law – disallowing companies to have a question or check box on an application asking whether the applicant has been convicted of a crime. The reasoning behind the ban is to give those with a criminal past a fair shot at employment in which they are qualified by delaying the criminal history questions until later in the hiring process. Studies have shown that applicants with a check mark in the criminal record box receive call backs 50% less than those without a criminal record. Studies have also found that convicted criminals without jobs have a greater chance of committing repeat crimes. Banning the box is an initiative to help those offenders get back on their feet, get a job and move on with their lives – making a better society for everyone.
The list of states who have now banned the question on job applications include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico and Rhode Island. Over 60 cities and counties have also adopted ban the box or fair chance policies. Regulations for employers vary by state, so be sure you are up to date on what is required in your county, city or state. Illinois has enacted a full Ban the Box policy for public, private and government employers with 15 or more employees, as well as all employment agencies. Since the fair chance policies are growing so quickly, it won’t be long before more states are added to the list. Think about changing your policy now to be ahead of the curve, even if it isn’t mandated yet by your local government.
On the federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has endorsed the Ban the Box efforts and recommends as best practice that all employers remove criminal history questions from their applications. The EEOC also reminds employers that any criminal history restrictions on a position should be directly related to the job. Applications should be individually evaluated to ensure candidates are assessed based on skill sets instead of past offenses when unnecessary.
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MidwestHR supports growing companies by helping them simplify their business through HR Outsourcing. MidwestHR is a Certified Professional Employer Organization (CPEO) headquartered in the Chicago land area. As a CPEO, we provide business owners, CEO and CFO leaders with relief from dozens of time-consuming HR & employment related functions, while helping protect the business from ever-increasing HR demands and liabilities. In addition, our clients have the ability to offer “Fortune 500 type” benefits, while being able to better control their premiums in the process.
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