NFIB: Employers Need to Be Free to Ask Job Candidates About Past Before Lengthy Hiring Process
One of the biggest debates in current employment law involves moves to implement so-called “ban the box” laws, or measures that would bar questions about potential employees’ criminal history from job applications. As the New York Times points out in its “Room For Debate” column, the Obama Administration has ordered Federal agencies to “ban the box”, and currently there are 21 states and around 100 localities that bar such questions from private businesses as well as public agencies. According to the National Employment Law Project, of these states and localities that bar such questions, many “have not only delayed the conviction history inquiry until the end of the hiring process, they have also adopted fair standards to determine which offenses may disqualify a worker, along with appeal procedures that take into account rehabilitation and allow for challenging inaccurate records.”
What Happens Next
Debate over “ban the box” initiatives is likely to continue throughout the year. The NELP notes that in 2016, there are current campaigns underway in Connecticut and Vermont to limit criminal records inquiries by private employers, and such a bill is expected to come to a vote in Colorado’s legislature in 2016. Los Angeles and Austin are also considering such measures. Regarding public employment, Florida, Utah, and Virginia are among the states the NELP cites as considering banning the box in 2016.
What This Means For Small Businesses
With pressure to “ban the box” growing, businesses large and small are weighing in on the potential harm that such initiatives could do. In a response in the New York Times “Room For Debate” column, NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan pointed out that small business owners often struggle to find and retain good employees. During hiring, a small business owner often must perform duties like examining resumes and conducting interviews. While small “business owners are perfectly willing to give someone with a criminal past a second chance,” Duggan said that “our members tell us that they would like to have that conversation long before they make a job offer.” By banning the box, Duggan argued, small business owners will have a harder time talking to employers “about a criminal record at a time that is convenient for them,” and could instead spend a lengthy hiring process with a candidate “only to find a worker is unqualified at the last minute.” When it comes to small businesses, “lost time is lost income.”
NFIB previously discussed how “ban the box” proposals are affecting small businesses.
Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.