Ban the Box Laws and Second Chance Programs that Help Ex-Offenders Find Work Will Spread in 2020

ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends
ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

“Ban the Box” laws and second chance programs that help give ex-offenders in the United States with a prior criminal record – an estimated 70 million people or nearly one in three U.S. adults – an opportunity to find work after leaving prison will continue to spread in 2020, according to the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2020 compiled by leading global background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR).

The Ban the Box movement has morphed into Fair Chance hiring to give ex-offenders a second chance. As of January of 2020, 35 U.S. states and more than 150 cities and counties have passed Ban the Box laws, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP). In 2019 alone, Ban the Box laws took effect in the states of Colorado and New Mexico, as well as in cities such as New Orleans LA and Columbia SC.

The United States government is also joining the Ban the Box movement. In December of 2019, U.S. President Donald J. Trump signed into law the “National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020” that included The Fair Chance Act that will prohibit the federal government and federal contractors from asking about the criminal history of job applicants early on in the hiring process.

A study of Ban the Box laws released in March of 2019 found removing the criminal history question from applications increased the hiring of ex-offenders which reduces recidivism, the tendency to re-offend. Ban the Box – which removes the box ex-offenders are asked to check if they have a criminal record – increased employment of residents in high-crime U.S. neighborhoods by up to 4 percent.

Employers that do not follow Ban the Box laws can find themselves in trouble. In May 2019, the Massachusetts Attorney General reached settlements for $5,000 with two employers found to be in violation of the state Ban the Box law. Also in May, the District of Columbia released a report that revealed employers in D.C. have paid nearly $500,000 in settlements under the Ban the Box law.

In January of 2019, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) – the world’s largest HR professional society representing 300,000 members in more than 165 countries – announced the launch of the SHRM Getting Talent Back to Work national initiative that champions the hiring of ex-offenders with criminal records, an untapped talent pool that has traditionally been shut out of the labor market.

Should employers consider workers with a criminal record? Dawn Standerwick, Vice President of Strategic Growth at Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), helped employers answer that question in an article about second chances she wrote that is found on page 9 of the 2019 In Search of Excellence in Background Screening: Best Practice Insights from Accredited Background Screening Firms.

“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,” Standerwick wrote in her article.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) offers two complimentary white papers titled “Ban the Box Now More the Rule than Exception for Employers when Screening” and “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce,” along with a Ban the Box Resource Page that contains an interactive map with the latest Ban the Box laws that delay questions about criminal records until later in the hiring process.

Since 2008, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) has selected influential and emerging background check trends that have impacted the background screening industry. Each trend for 2020 will be announced via the ESR News Blog and listed on the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” web page available at www.esrcheck.com/Tools-Resources/ESR-Top-Ten-Background-Check-Trends/.

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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