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January 4, 2018

Ban the Box

Posted by Tameka Young

Effective January 1, 2018, a new state law affecting approximately 7 million Californians will change the way businesses approach hiring. The California Fair Chance Act (AB1008) requires public and private sector employers with five or more employees to delay background checks and inquiries about a candidate’s criminal record until they have extended a conditional offer. Currently, 29 states and more than 150 cities and counties have these “Ban the Box” laws. The laws remove from job applications the criminal history question that applicants are asked to check if they have criminal records and delay such questions until later in the hiring process.

California’s Fair Chance Act is meant to help individuals with records by giving them an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and qualifications before an employer sees their criminal history. Proponents say it will generate tax revenue and reduce the tax dollars spent on incarceration, increase public safety by providing opportunities for people to reenter the economy, and help ensure that employers keep talented candidates in their recruitment pipeline.

Despite its good intentions, the new law may increase the administrative burden on HR departments and delay hiring decisions. It could also have other unintended consequences, such as employers avoiding conviction history checks, which may increase the likelihood of hiring a dangerous person or encourage some employers to simply refrain from making initial offers to people they improperly suspect have a criminal history.

Here are a few tips from the Society for Human Resource Management on applying the new requirements in your business:

  • Update employment applications to remove inquiries related to conviction history.
  • Train hiring managers and supervisors, as well as any third-party recruiters, to avoid inquiring about an applicant’s conviction history until after a conditional offer of employment has been extended.
  • Train hiring managers and any third-party investigators on the types of information that may be obtained during a background search for conviction history information.
  • Train those involved in the hiring decision about the factors that must be considered when determining whether prior convictions disqualify an applicant.
  • Develop protocols and notices for the process where the employer notifies applicants of potentially disqualifying convictions and provides an opportunity to respond.
  • Review local ordinances for additional requirements or limitations regarding conviction history information.

Tameka Young is a Senior Consultant for the HR Solutions Group at Armanino LLP. She has a BS in Business Administration from CSU Dominguez Hills and over 10 years of experience in HR, specifically with employee relations, compliance, and talent management. Her hobbies include reading, napping, taking photos of her dog, and correcting grammar in printed publications.


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