Hiring People with a Criminal Background is Easier than you think
Genevieve Martin, the executive director of Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation, recently spoke at the 2019 Society for Human Resource Management Employment Law and Legislative Conference. She discussed the hiring of employees with criminal backgrounds, informing attendees that prospecting employees with felony convictions shouldn’t be a big scary thing. In fact, it’s gaining popularity among policymakers.
Save Background Checks for Later
Heidi Mason, an attorney with Innova Legal Advisors mentioned that, HR professionals should not ban applicants with criminal backgrounds because it goes against Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the 2012 EEOC guidelines. HR’s priority is to protect the employer and the company, and by not considering applicants with criminal background is a risky move. In order protect the company they must show due diligence in hiring. HR should be making reasonable questions at the appropriate times regarding an applicant criminal history.
“Ban-the-box” is a term used that refers to the removal of the check box on job applications that require applicants to check off if they have criminal backgrounds. 33 states and 150 cities require the ban-the-box policy for public sector job, along with 11 States and 17 cities in the private sector. This law allows for all potential applicants to be given an equal opportunity. For states where ban-the-box policy isn’t relevant, employers are still able to delay questioning an applicant about criminal records until later on in the process, so all potential applicants are still given an equal opportunity.
In a majority of situations applicants will bring up their criminal record during the interview, but HR is responsible for controlling the conversation. There are certain ways the interviewee can go about handling the situation. The best response would be, “Thank you for telling me. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to talk about it. But I want to let you know upfront that, just because you have a criminal record, doesn’t necessarily mean you are disqualified from employment, depending on the nature and circumstances of the offence.”
You as the interviewee should know what to look out for when evaluating criminal history. “Does the applicant take ownership for their background? Have there been other offence since being released? What was the nature or severity of the offense?” are some worthy question to ask. Pamela Mack, Vice President of business development for background screening firm Occuscreen, said that you don’t have to screen for all types of convictions, depending on the open position.
Addressing Common Concerns
A big fear employers have in hiring people with criminal backgrounds is increased insurance costs, but that is actually not true. However, some areas could be costlier such as employment practices, liability insurance and commercial crime insurance. But you can offset increased insurance costs by reassuring you have a strong process in place for hiring and employee rations, performance evaluations and employee advancement.
HR also needs to look out for negligent hiring. If an employee injuries someone while working the employer can be held liable. It’s risky, but the way to fix this is not be negligent. If HR follows the EEOC guidelines, doesn’t act carelessly and they follow their judgement when making hiring decisions they should come to the accurate decision. Take good notes to inform your consideration, and then documentation will show that you were being diligent in your decision making process, and you wouldn’t be negligent.
Hiring employees with a criminal background can be risky, but Converge HR Solutions has trained HR professionals that help establish a strong hiring process for your business to ensure the best hiring practices for your company. You can call us at 610-296-8550 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org assistance.
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