The Ban the Box movement is about getting employers to stop asking about criminal convictions on initial employment applications. The idea is to stop using convictions as an automatic filter to screen out job applicants. Instead, the movement hopes to get employers to consider the relevance of criminal convictions to the job further down the hiring process, after considering their work qualifications.
How Ban the Box Can Benefit Employers
It is estimated that there are as many people with criminal records in the United States as there are people with college degrees. Employers are already finding it increasingly difficult to fill many positions. When employers automatically screen out anyone with a criminal record, they may be missing out on many experienced, and highly qualified candidates.
By changing the way criminal records are evaluated, companies could unlock significant amounts of hidden talent. Employers often find that the people they hire with criminal records are more productive and loyal that other employees. These men and women are typically overwhelmingly grateful to have a chance to prove that they are more than a single past mistake.
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How to Implement Ban the Box at Your Company
The Ban the Box movement wants employers to understand that not all criminal records are equal, that people do change, and that often criminal records can be irrelevant to actual job requirements.
If you want to implement the ban the box model at your company you need to remove questions about criminal convictions and arrests from initial employment documents. Instead, you should ask the criminal background questions and perform background checks only after you have evaluated potential employees’ work qualifications.
This will allow you to have a better sense of who a candidate really is before making a judgment just based on a criminal record. The next step to implementing Ban the Box is to figure out how to put a criminal record in some context. Consider the length of time since the incident, the relevance to the job, and any steps the candidate has taken to show that they have changed.
Upcoming Regulation Changes
In most states, private employers are still allowed to ask about a candidate’s criminal history at any point in the hiring process. But, this is changing. Employers need to make sure they know the current state and local rules. Over 150 cities and counties are now participating in the Ban the Box movement for government jobs. Some locations are expanding this to government contractors as well. 27 states have adopted some form of Ban the Box for state government jobs. Nine states have removed criminal conviction questions on job applications from private employers as well. These nine states are:
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
In the near future, more and more states, counties, and cities, are likely to start requiring private employers to implement some form of Ban the Box. The sooner employers can get ahead of this change the better it will be for the company and the bigger impact the company will be able to make on the community.