The following is an excerpt from article by Jared Bernstein that appeared in the Washington Post on 1//27/2015
The Paths to Full Employment, Path 1: Fair-hiring practices for those with criminal records
One way to help these people get a fair shake in the job market is to “ban the box.”
The “box” is a checkbox on job applications that asks about an applicant’s criminal record. Banning it does not — I repeat, does not — demand that background information be kept from employers; surely there are jobs and occupations where such information is relevant. But the idea behind “fair chance” hiring practices like ban-the-box is that applicants with criminal records should not be disadvantaged on the initial application.
In later stages, employers should of course be free to ask potential hires about their records and conduct background checks. But ban-the-box provisions move that activity to a later stage of the interview process, after employers have developed impressions of candidates from meeting them and learning about their qualifications and skills.
NELP recommends, and I agree, that the background check come late in the game, ideally after a conditional offer of employment (which, to be clear, is the way it’s often been in my own experience, even at the White House — the background check is a formality after the job offer).
It’s a simple ask. Say an employer looks at two initial applications and sees that box checked in one of them. Most of us would toss that application and pursue the other. The goal of banning the box is thus to “ensure that employers take into account other important factors when considering an applicant’s conviction history, including the age of the offense, the relationship of the individual’s record to the job duties and responsibilities, and evidence of rehabilitation.”
This fair-hiring work is relatively new, but the available data suggest the policies are helping. In Minneapolis, postponing the background check until after a conditional offer of employment “resulted in more than half of applicants with a conviction being hired.”