Background screening is invaluable to your organization because it helps you avoid hiring individuals who could cause harm to your organization, employees, and customers. However, not all individuals with a criminal record pose a hiring risk to your organization. By practicing fair chance hiring and working with a background screening company that can help you do it effectively, you can hire qualified individuals who support your goals for a safe and healthy work environment.
What is fair chance hiring?
Fair chance hiring is the practice of making employment more accessible to individuals with arrest or conviction records. It’s based on the idea that everyone, regardless of their background, should be fairly assessed for a role they are qualified to perform—including those with criminal histories. Candidates that fall into this category are often eager and driven but overlooked because of past infractions that may not be connected to the role for which they are applying.
Fair chance hiring is a legal hiring practice supported by federal and state laws. Each is aimed at helping individuals gain fair assessment for job opportunities they’re qualified to perform. Those laws include:
The fair chance to compete for jobs act
In effect since 2021, this federal law prohibits federal agencies and contractors from requesting that a job applicant disclose their criminal history before receiving a conditional employment offer. According to one estimate, this law immediately provided over 700,000 people with an arrest or conviction record a fair chance at gaining employment.
state fair chance and "ban the box" laws
Now enacted in over 37 states and nearly 150 municipalities, these laws prohibit employers from asking about a candidate’s criminal history until a specific point in the hiring process, most commonly after a conditional job offer has been extended.
benefits of fair chance hiring
Fair chance hiring is about fostering a culture of second chances. And given that an estimated 70 to 100 million Americans have a criminal record, fair chance hiring doesn’t just benefit individuals with a criminal past; it can also benefit employers looking for talent in an increasingly competitive job market.
Here is the upside you can expect from practicing fair chance hiring in your organization:
benefits to job seekers
Fair chance practices benefit job seekers by providing equitable access to job opportunities. They also provide applicants with more consistent access to bias- and discrimination-free hiring. Individuals who might have been previously considered unsuitable because of their criminal history can now find work with the help of fair chance laws and practices.
benefits to employers
Working with a background screening company committed to fair and inclusive hiring is an excellent first step in practicing fair chance hiring. In partnership with your hiring and HR teams, the right screening partner can help you develop screening practices that help you fairly determine which individuals—including those with a criminal history—could make great hires and volunteers. With this support, you can reap the following benefits:
- Access to a broader pool of qualified candidates: In a tight labor market, talent is easier to come by when you cast a broader net that includes some individuals you might have overlooked in the past.
- Lower turnover: Individuals with a criminal record may be more likely to stay employed with your organization. Recent studies have identified lower turnover rates in organizations that practice fair chance hiring.
- A more diverse workforce: Making your workplace open to individuals with more varied backgrounds naturally helps to build a more diverse workforce. When you make hiring decisions based on candidate skills and experience instead of their criminal past, you open the door to a more varied candidate slate for open positions.
benefits to society
Beyond being good for business and candidates, fair chance hiring is good for society. It supports higher overall employment and helps ensure whole communities become more active participants in the job market.
benefits to employers
Having a hiring process that provides fair access to job opportunities can and should extend to candidates with a criminal record. With the support of a screening company that provides accurate background check results and tips for making fair chance hiring decisions, you can hire with confidence and onboard quality hires and volunteers. For more insights, continue to read our blog.