Employers May Consider Ex-Offenders and People Recovering from Substance Use Disorders in Hiring Crunch

Second Chance

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

With “an estimated 23.5 million adults in recovery from substance use disorder and 5 million people who were formerly incarcerated” – along with a historically low unemployment rate causing a hiring crunch in a tight job market – employers that need workers may consider these two previously overlooked populations during the hiring process, according to a column in The Columbus Dispatch.

Written by a nationally recognized expert in drug-free-workplace issues, the column explains how the “advent of resources and systems to accommodate the unique characteristics of these populations can be a source of confidence and protection for employers” and that “research indicates individuals in these populations have lower turnover and are more loyal to their employers than other employees.”

The column gives three steps employers should take when hiring people who were formerly incarcerated or in recovery, the first of which is education to reduce stigma and stereotypes. “When employers and employees understand that substance use disorder is a treatable, behavioral-related medical condition (instead of a moral weakness), it can help reframe attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors toward those in recovery.”

The second step is accommodating the realities and needs of second-chance policies to “set guidelines that, if followed by employers, allow employers protection against negligent hiring.” The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Getting Talent Back to Work initiative “suggests an individualized rather than a one-size fits all approach to workplace orientation for formerly incarcerated employees.”

The third step is identifying, recruiting, and selecting workers in a way that “must be legal, fair and focused on the candidate’s ability to perform the required job duties.” The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – which enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – “offers guidance on pre-employment inquiries around criminal backgrounds, disabilities, or medical conditions.”

The column written by Dee Mason concludes: “Arming and motivating employers with knowledge, education, tools, and resources is an essential precursor to success in hiring previously overlooked populations. Simultaneously, qualified and productive employees will be connected with employers. It can really be a win-win situation, so long as it is entered into with sufficient awareness and preparation.”

Background check expert Dawn Standerwick, Vice President of Strategic Growth at global background screening firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), explains why employers should consider hiring workers with criminal records in her article in the publication “2019 In Search of Excellence in Background Screening: Best Practice Insights from Accredited Background Screening Firms.”

In her article “Should Employers Consider Workers with a Criminal Record? A Look at Second Chances.” which starts on page 9 of the publication, Standerwick, who has 27 years of experience in all facets of background screening, explains why employers should consider the nearly 70 million ex-offenders in the United States with a criminal record – about 30 percent of the U.S. adult population – as workers.

Standerwick writes in her article: “While it may seem unlikely for the background screening industry to support second-chance efforts, our company and many other firms agree that individuals with a prior criminal history should not be prevented from having gainful employment. We believe in the thoughtful consideration of all aspects of a person’s background, but, that there should be a job for every person.”

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) offers a complimentary white paper entitled “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce” to help job applicants with criminal records reenter the workforce after leaving prison. The white paper is available at www.esrcheck.com/Tools-Resources/Whitepaper-Library/Ten-Steps-for-Ex-Offenders-to-Get-Back-in-Workforce/.

With record-low unemployment, employers are more willing to hire ex-offenders with the necessary job skills. Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) also provides the millions of job seekers with criminal records an ex-offender resources page to help them reenter the workforce more quickly and easily. To learn more, please visit www.esrcheck.com/Applicant-Support-Center/Ex-Offender-Resources/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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