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

What are Supplemental Unemployment Benefits?

What are Supplemental Unemployment Benefits?

Reductions in force are unavoidable in economic downturns, but are traditional severance packages the way to go? They can be a big hit to your company’s cash flow and are subject to payroll taxes. The tax-friendlier option, Supplement Unemployment Benefits plans (SUBS), can spread out costs and deliver the same value for the employee, too. How Do Supplemental Unemployment Benefits Plans Work? SUBs got popular in the ‘50s as a way to help workers in industries with cyclical employment patterns get a more steady income. SUBs were often fought for in collective bargaining agreements. They’re growing in popularity again across industries. Under a SUB plan, in the event of a Reduction in Force (RIF) or temporary unemployment due to training,...

Take Our HR Benchmarking Quizzes

Take Our HR Benchmarking Quizzes

Paycor's research shows that 75% of high-functioning HR teams spend their time on mastering key pillars of HR excellence. Want to know how your team stacks up against others? Take our benchmarking quizzes to find out and get customized action plans based on your results. Recruiting Benchmark Quiz Benefits Benchmark Quiz Labor Costs Benchmark Quiz People Management Benchmark Quiz Compliance Benchmark Quiz

Remote Work Policy - Information Security Template

Remote Work Policy - Information Security Template

To make remote work successful, HR needs to think through risk mitigation policies, especially if it’s new to your organization. One of the biggest issues to consider is information security. It’s important that your remote workers know what to do in case of a security breach or data loss. Download Remote Work Information Security Policy Template Why Information Security is Important for a Virtual Workforce Protecting your company’s data (and the data of your clients) is hard enough when everyone’s working in the same office. It gets more difficult in a distributed, virtual environment. When an employee is offered the opportunity to work remotely, you may want them to sign an initial work from home agreement covering the general...

COVID-19 ADA Requirements

COVID-19 ADA Requirements

UPDATE JUNE 22: Updated EEOC guidance states that “requiring antibody testing before allowing employees to re-enter the workplace is not allowed under the ADA”. What is the ADA? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that provides protection to disabled workers. The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of a physical or mental disability. This legislation applies to any business with at least 15 employees and prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities in all aspects of employment. How does the Coronavirus pandemic impact ADA compliance? Short answer, we don’t know yet. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The Basics The ADA broadly prohibits discrimination in...