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

How to Make Tax-Free Disaster Payments To Employees

How to Make Tax-Free Disaster Payments To Employees

The pandemic is putting a big strain on everyone, maybe most of all your team, and you want to do everything you can to help.In a national emergency, employers have the freedom to offer unlimited tax-free financial assistance to employees who need it, with minimal administrative burdens. These disaster payments will be exempt from both federal income and employment taxes. What Disaster Payments Cover Disaster payment to affected employees can cover a broad range of “personal, family, living or funeral expenses (not covered by insurance)”. These may include: Unreimbursed Medical Expenses This can range from vitamins and over-the-counter medications to co-pays. Cleaning Products Disinfectant and hand-sanitizer for employee’s homes can help...

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): What You Need to Know About Payroll Protection

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): What You Need to Know About Payroll Protection

You need payroll protection. The federal government wants to help. Here’s what you need to know. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) As part of the $2 trillion aid package unveiled in the Coronavirus Aid Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act, $349 billion was dedicated to the Payment Protection Program (PPP). This offers federal guaranteed loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees to cover payroll and other essential costs.The federal government is focused on releasing funds quickly and with as little red tape as possible, giving small businesses a big boost right when they need it. And here’s the best part—if you use the funds to retain (or rehire) your employees, the loans don’t need to be repaid.View Payroll Protection...

Paycor's COVID-19 Command Center

Paycor's COVID-19 Command Center

We're excited to announce the release of Paycor's COVID-19 Command Center, a new analytics solution that delivers instant insights for crisis management. With the COVID-19 Command Center, you'll be able to: Prepare with real time insights Plan with actionable data Respond with the help of HR experts Recover quickly by playing the long game now Discover how your organization can make the best possible decisions with real time data, actionable insights and expert HR counsel.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Tips to Manage Employee Leave Scenarios

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Tips to Manage Employee Leave Scenarios

Coronavirus Response Act On March 18 the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was enacted to help individuals, families and businesses. The legislation requires employers with under 500 employees to give sick leave and paid family medical leave to eligible employees.Eligible businesses are now able to take advantage of new tax credits to offset the costs associated with paid emergency leave and sick leave benefits implemented under the bill, including credit for health plan expenses affiliated with the new leaves. Below is a list of scenarios your employees may experience during this time. Scenario 1 A full time employee is sick and believes they might have COVID-19. The employee is visiting a doctor to seek a medical diagnosis and...