Best Practices for Fair-Chance Policies

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1. Avoid stigmatizing language. Instead of using words like “ex-offenders” or “ex-felons,” employers should use terms that lead with “people,” such as “people with records.”

2. A background check may be unnecessary for a job position. Most jobs do not give workers unrestricted access to sensitive information. If a background check is not legally required for the open position, an employer may want to consider forgoing thescreening.

3. Avoid blanket exclusions for positions and include an equal opportunity statement on job applications. Indicate that a criminal record will not automatically disqualify an applicant, unless there is a specific legal exclusion.

4. If a background check is necessary, only consider convictions with a direct relationship to the job and consider the time that has passed since the offense. Avoid consideration of arrests that were not followed by a conviction, expunged or dismissed convictions, and misdemeanor convictions without jail sentencing.

5. “Ban the Box” that inquires about convictions on the job application. Do not inquire about job convictions until a conditional job offer has been made. Further, do not include a “voluntary disclosure” provision in your hiring process.

6. Remove self-reporting questions about conviction history. A background check removes the necessity for the applicant to self-report convictions. Prior to any discussion of a job candidate’s criminal record, provide the applicant with a copy of the background check.

7. Inform an applicant if they have been rejected because of a prior conviction.Give the applicant a written notice of the specific conviction in the background report that is considered job-related, as well as a copy of the report.

8. Provide the applicant time to submit evidence of mitigation or rehabilitation. Because background checks can sometimes include inaccuracies, give the applicant the chance to verify or challenge the information. 

9. Combine data collection and effective enforcement. Data collection can help ensure that an employer’s hiring policies are opening job opportunities for people with records, in addition to supporting proper enforcement of policies.

Source: National Employment Law Project