President Obama's Ban the Box Rule Increases Recruiting and Hiring Regulations
President Obama's Ban the Box Rule Increases Recruiting and Hiring Regulations

President Obama's Ban the Box Rule Increases Recruiting and Hiring Regulations

This past month, the “Ban the Box” movement saw a major breakthrough in its effort to eliminate criminal background questions from job applications. On April 29, President Obama signed a memorandum set forth by the Office of Personnel Management titled “Promoting Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Formerly Incarcerated Individuals.” Within this memorandum is a “Ban the Box” rule, which looks to prohibit Federal agencies from asking criminal history questions on their applications.

Below is an excerpt from the introduction of the memorandum.

“America is a Nation of second chances. Promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals who have paid their debt to society makes communities safer by reducing recidivism and victimization; assists those who return from prison, jail, or juvenile justice facilities to become productive citizens; and saves taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration. Policies that limit opportunities for people with criminal records create barriers to employment, education, housing, healthcare, and civic participation. This lack of opportunity decreases public safety, increases costs to society, and tears at the fabric of our Nation's communities.”

Currently in the US, there are 70 million people with a criminal record and 600,000 people are released from Federal and State prisons each year. A major factor determining successful “reentry” of these individuals into everyday life is their ability to secure some form of steady employment. Unfortunately, the formerly incarcerated face massive barriers when searching for jobs. “Ban the Box” advocates suggest that the most significant of these hurdles is the criminal history questions on a job application. They believe that employers use such questions as a pre-qualifier, automatically screening out any applicant who checks the box, regardless of whether or not there the conviction has any relevance to the case of business necessity.

“Ban the Box” supporters also claim that criminal background questions in the initial application create massive psychological barriers for job seekers with a criminal conviction. Applicants that do have a criminal history often view disclosing such information as an automatic disqualifier--they believe if they check the box, they may lose any eligibility they may have had for a job. As a result of this, former criminal offenders have significantly higher drop-off rates when applying to jobs that ask criminal background questions in the application. Furthermore, even for those applicants that do continue on with an application after “checking the box,” the additional steps of clarifying any criminal history and providing the necessary paperwork to the employer becomes a major burden. The complexity involved in these additional steps leads to a poor candidate experience, which drives further drop-off rates.

With the signing of this new memorandum, Obama hopes to remove these barriers and empower the millions of Americans with a criminal record to be proactive in their job search. If the memorandum is enacted (it is currently under a 60-day comment period in Congress) Federal agencies will be prohibited from inquiring about criminal history information until the final stage of the interview process. This will allow candidates with a criminal history a fair and equal opportunity to effectively showcase their skill-set and relevant experience without initial bias.

The “Ban the Box” movement, which originated in the early 1990s, has gained substantial momentum in recent years. Supporting legislation has already been passed in 23 states, as well as in hundreds of cities and counties across America. According to a study by the National Employment Law Project, 185 million people are currently protected by some form of “Ban the Box” legislation. Furthermore, every month, more action is taken by government on both the state and local level to “Ban the Box.” In May alone, the governor of Vermont signed “Ban the Box” legislation into law, while Connecticut and Louisiana both passed “Ban the Box” bills through their Senate.

Education is one sector where “Ban the Box” support is especially strong. Monday, May 9, the Department of Education held a press conference urging colleges and universities to eliminate criminal history questions from their applications--both for students and employees. With institutions such as University of California at Berkeley already taking action to “Ban the Box,” we can expect to see many more universities adopt this practice in the near future.

With bipartisan support and full backing from the EEOC and the OFCCP, many predict nationwide adoption of “Ban the Box” legislation in the near future. This will add further restrictions to the ever-changing regulatory landscape of hiring and recruiting. As an employer, it is absolutely vital that you leverage the necessary tools and resources to stay on top of these new laws. At Newton, we partner with leaders in the industry to offer best-in-class recruitment compliance solutions. If you are still unsure how “Ban the Box” regulations could impact your company, review this content from our partners at Employment Screening Resources, a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).

Sourcing top talent and moving qualified candidates through the recruiting pipeline is an incredibly complex process. Add in trying to stay updated on the latest recruitment regulations and employers are left herding cats. Recruiting professionals do not have time to waste cat wrangling! Contact Newton to learn more about how we offer a solution that simplifies recruiting, enabling you to focus on the big picture of talent acquisition.

Guest Post by Danny Madigan, Marketing Associate

More to Discover

Employee Safety During COVID-19: Compliance Toolkit

Employee Safety During COVID-19: Compliance Toolkit

Vaccines are coming to the rescue, but we’re not out of the woods yet. HR leaders can’t afford to take their eye off the ball when it comes to employee safety and compliance. Now’s the time to think about creating a vaccine policy that works for your organization, and it’s not too late to implement workplace testing. If an employee does test positive for COVID-19, you’ll want to make sure you’re ready to offer the right information and support to your whole team. Paycor is offering this free compliance toolkit, including customizable letter templates to use when you: Create a mandatory vaccine policy Implement workplace testing Inform your team that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19

Demotion Letter Template

Demotion Letter Template

There’s nothing better than seeing employees thrive, but setbacks and slips in performance do happen. One way to address performance problems is a demotion. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back before you can take two steps forward. Download Demotion Letter Template When is a Demotion Necessary? In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be demotions. They are a sign something’s wrong: it could be that an employee has failed to respond to a performance improvement plan or they could just be disengaged. A demotion is the last stop before termination. If you believe the person has potential and is worth investing in, then a demotion might be the best way forward. Demotions are risky, though. You could end up with an employee who is even...

Maximum PTO Accrual Letter

Maximum PTO Accrual Letter

Encouraging employees to use their vacation days can feel strange. After all, nobody wants to leave themselves under-staffed and the rest of their team over-worked. On the other hand, what if employees rarely ever, or even never, take time off? That’s been a question facing business owners this year, as vacation plans were delayed, then cancelled, and PTO built up like never before.One problem is, PTO payout laws can turn unused PTO into an unwanted financial liability. There’s also a risk of schedule chaos down the line as everyone tries to use their days up at once. Most worrying of all is that employees who go too long without a break, even by choice, risk ending up disengaged and burned out. Download Sample Maximum PTO Accrual Letter...

How Long to Keep Payroll Records

How Long to Keep Payroll Records

Running a business, you know that compliance isn’t just about being compliant—you also need to prove it. You never know when the IRS, the DOL or the EEOC will demand to see your paperwork, which is why it’s so important to retain payroll records. To make things more complicated, each agency has its own rules for which documents you have to keep and for how long. The good news is, you don’t have to buy more filing cabinets. HR software can automatically store everything you need, with the added benefit of simplifying the whole payroll process. Why You Need to Retain Payroll Records At a federal level, you’re keeping payroll records primarily for three agencies: The IRS The Department of Labor (Wage and Hour Division) The EEOC These...