You have heard the phrase non-stop for the last year. Your state may have even passed legislation to make it law. But what does “Ban the Box” really mean for your business? What should you do if a related measure passes where you are?
To start, let’s take a look at what Ban the Box really means. It is a campaign that began in Hawaii in the 1990’s, but really came to the forefront during the Great Recession. The aim is to persuade employers to remove the check box on hiring applications that ask candidates if they have a criminal record. This allows the company to get to know the candidate before learning if they have a criminal record upon performing a background check.
According to the National Employment Law Project, over 100 U.S. cities and counties as well as 23 states have adopted the measure. With similar legislation before dozens of state and local governments across the country and around the world, the movement is spreading even more rapidly.
Now that you have had a brief overview of Ban the Box, let’s look at the central question you’re likely asking—how will this affect my company? Here are three things to help you determine how Ban the Box will impact your business:
- Stay Aware of Any Current Regulations
- Even if Ban the Box hasn’t passed yet in your area, businesses should be very aware to avoid discrimination in their hiring practices. This page from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) gives an overview of federal laws regarding discrimination, and many states have similar resources for more local regulations.
- Respond to Regulations When They are Enacted
- If your state, county, or local government has enacted regulations to Ban the Box, you should immediately take action. First, learn when the regulation goes into effect and make sure you are ready before that date. Then, take a look at your job application and ensure it is compliant. You can also request advice from a local employment law attorney.
- Decide What’s Right for Your Business
- Even if there are no regulations requiring you to take the box off of your employment applications, more and more employers are doing it voluntarily. A recent study has concluded that such efforts are “on the right track” and have even reduced crime. These ideas should be balanced, however, with background checks and lawsuit potential awareness.
Ban the Box moves the hiring process to a qualifications-first model. It doesn’t prevent employers from running background screens when they normally would, but it gives the candidate a chance to show their skills before they are discounted.