A Closer Look at “Ban the Box” Rules

job applications

Many businesses haven’t changed their hiring procedures much in recent years. “If it works, why mess with it?” is an oft-heard refrain. While there is a convenience in doing the old-fashioned way, new rules have come into play that may limit how companies can conduct background checks on prospective employees.

What is “Ban the Box?”

As of 2019, 35 states, the District of Columbia and over 150 cities and counties have adopted what’s called “ban the box” rules that ensure employers must consider a job candidate’s qualifications first before they can consider the candidate’s conviction or arrest record. The goal is to help people who may have criminal convictions in their past gain employment by giving them a fair chance for a job. In practice, “Ban the Box” removes the conviction history question from job applications and delays background checks until later in the hiring process.

While many of the rules are broad and in some cases apply only to federal employees or contractors, 12 states—California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—have also required the removal of conviction history questions from job applications for private employers. Aside from the most local of companies who do business entirely outside of these states, this means the rules could affect a majority of companies doing business in the U.S. In fact, if you add up the population of the states and localities that have adopted “Ban the Box” policies, there are now over 258 million people in the U.S. —which represents more than three-quarters of the U.S. population— who live in a jurisdiction with some form of fair-chance hiring policy.

Updated Hiring Policies

In addition to “Ban the Box,” most of these states and municipalities are adopting the best practices created in the 2012 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance on using arrest and conviction records in employment decisions, which can further complicate the rules of recruiting and hiring.

For this reason, if your hiring procedures haven’t been updated recently, you could be in violation of the law. Hiring is a complex process today, particularly for organizations that hire across state or county lines. To ensure you’re not violating the rights of prospective employees, it’s a good idea to rely on background checks by a professional agency.

Ensure You’re Doing Background Checks Properly

Criminal history background checks are an integral part of the hiring process and help protect companies and their employees. It’s essential, however, that employers ensure they’re following all the rules, including fair employment mandates.

Get Professional Help

With the services of a professional pre-employment background screening company like DataCheck, you can protect your workers and your business and avoid negligent hiring lawsuits while still complying with “ban the box” laws. Contact DataCheck at 949-339-2305 or visit our website.

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