On December 20, 2019, President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, which included the federal Fair Chance Act. This Act forbids federal contractors and federal agencies from seeking criminal history information from an applicant until after a conditional offer of employment has been made. The Act will go into effect on December 20, 2021.
The Fair Chance Act is simply the federal version of a type of legislation colloquially referred to as ‘Ban the box’. Over the past several years, ‘ban the box’ legislation has slowly been adopted by states and municipalities across the nation to provide more employment opportunities for individuals with a criminal history.
Prior to ‘ban the box’, it was standard practice for many employers to inquire whether an applicant had any criminal history within the application itself. Advocates for individuals who have a criminal past contended that many employers were using that tactic as a qualifier and would remove anyone who answered “yes” to that question from the hiring pool. They insisted a fairer process would delay the asking of that question until after a first interview has been conducted or conditional offer of employment made. This way the applicant can explain their qualifications in detail and allow the employer a chance to judge their fitness for employment with their organization.
A federal version of this law continues the progression of adoption of this type of legislation. Employers currently not subject to a ‘ban the box’ law should consider preparing for the day when they are, because by now it seems inevitable all jurisdictions will have one in place eventually.
It’s a smart practice for all employers to periodically review their hiring processes to ensure they follow all federal, state, and local laws. Proactively or not, it’s a good idea to remove any criminal history questions from the application process. There is still time within the process to conduct a thorough background screening of a candidate that will provide you the assurances you are making the best possible hiring decision.
IntelliCorp offers the background screening tools and services that employers require to safeguard their organization and make smart decisions.