ban the box updates hr

With Obama Proposal and US Department of Education Backing, “Ban the Box” Gains Further Momentum


Does your employer require job candidates to provide their criminal background history during the application process? If the answer is yes, your company may now be breaking the law. Last week, in an effort to help those with a criminal history (70 million US citizens, with 600 thousand re-entering the workforce each year) reintegrate into the workforce, President Obama signed a memorandum supporting the “Ban the Box” movement. The proposal, which was set forth by the Office of Personnel Management, looks to delay any criminal history check until after federal employers have made a conditional offer of employment.

“Ban the Box” Background

“Ban the Box” is an equal employment campaign established in the early 1990’s. Its aim is to limit the employer’s ability to use the criminal background of a job applicant as a deciding factor in the hiring process. Proponents of this movement argue that the criminal history checkbox serves as a discriminatory screening mechanism that when checked, often revokes any opportunity of employment. With Obama’s signing of this latest “Ban the Box” memorandum, employers will have to delay criminal background inquiries until later in the interview process. The hope is that this will give candidates with a criminal history a fair opportunity to compete for employment based on their credentials and qualifications.

“Ban the Box” Movement Gains Momentum

“Ban the Box” measures have quickly gained momentum across the nation, with 23 states and hundreds of cities and counties already implementing associated legislation for both contractors and private companies. 185 million people in the United States—over half of the U.S. population—live in a ban-the-box or fair chance jurisdictions. On May 3rd, Vermont became the latest state to pass such legislation after their governor signed a “Ban the Box” bill restricting employers in the state from asking applicants about their criminal history. It also appears that Connecticut will soon follow suit. A “Ban the Box” bill was passed by the state’s legislature on May 4th and is now just waiting for sign-off from the Governor of Connecticut.

With bipartisan support and full backing from the EEOC and the OFCCP, many predict a nationwide adoption of “Ban the Box” legislation in the near future. The aforementioned memorandum signed by Obama is a major step in this direction. It is now under a 60 day comments period where it can be revised, withdrawn or enacted, and all indications currently point to it being enacted.

Education Sector Pushes for “Ban the Box” Adoption

An interesting sub-trend we are currently seeing within the “Ban the Box” movement is a push amongst educational institutions to eliminate questions about criminal history not only from their job applications, but from student applications as well. This Monday, the US Department of Education held a news conference encouraging all colleges and universities to do so. The spokesperson explained that criminal history questions serve as an additional barrier and a major deterrent for the many formerly incarcerated Americans who must already overcome significant obstacles to re-integrate into society.

Criminal History Checkboxes Serve as a Major Deterrent for Formerly-Incarcerated to Apply

Currently, 35% of colleges report rejecting applicants because of a criminal background. Of course, public safety is a concern on college campuses and 35% may not seem significantly high. However, consider the application drop-off rate for those with a felony conviction (66%) compared with the same rate for all total applicants (21%) and you begin to see the bigger picture. For most with a criminal background, simply seeing that checkbox is interpreted as denial in itself. Many express that the little checkbox serves as a chilling reminder of the daunting task they face in trying to overcome their past mistakes that they can never seem to escape from. For those not initially discouraged, the additional steps and paperwork that they must go through to submit their criminal background history is incredibly tedious and the burden of work simply drives many applicants away.

Stay Up-to-Date With the Latest Recruiting Regulations

These latest “Ban the Box” developments will add further restrictions to the ever-changing regulatory landscape of hiring managers and recruiters. For their own protection, it is absolutely vital that employers leverage the necessary tools and resources to stay up-to-date with this influx of new laws. At Newton, we partner with leaders in the industry to offer best-in-class recruitment compliance solutions. If you are still unsure how “Ban the Box” regulations could impact your company, review this link from our partners at Employment Screening Resources, a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).

Sourcing top talent and moving qualified candidates through the recruiting pipeline is an incredibly complex process. Add in trying to stay updated on the latest recruitment regulations and employers are left herding cats. Recruiting professionals do not have time to waste cat wrangling. With Newton, we offer a solution that simplifies recruiting, enabling you to focus on the big picture of talent acquisition.

“Ban the Box,” and the Hassle, With Newton Today!

Newton is a fully-featured ATS software that was created by recruiting professionals with the intention of simplifying the lives of hiring managers and recruiters. Incredibly affordable and optimized for mobile use, Newton offers industry-leading functionality that empowers small and medium size businesses to take control of their hiring process. This starts with built-in, best-in-class EEO/OFCCP compliance functionality and deep integrations with leading NAPBS certified background-screening partners. The functionality expands from here with intuitive recruiting dashboards and workflows, social recruiting features, advanced analytics and more. To top it all off, each new customer is assigned an individual and dedicated US-based customer success manager and accompanying support team free of charge.

If you are serious about your recruiting efforts, request a demo of Newton and see how much we can simplify your hiring process today! Also, be sure to check out these great tips on mitigating your HR compliance risk.


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