Fair Chance Employment

Did you know:

An estimated 631,000 adult Idahoans (21%) have a previous criminal conviction on their permanent record

In Idaho there are currently more than 12,000 people incarcerated in county jails and state prisons

There are more than 16,000 Idahoans on probation and parole

MARK YOUR CALENDAR!

The Chairman of the House Judiciary, Rules & Administration Committee has given the Fair Chance Employment Act a hearing!

On Wednesday, March 03, 2021, at 1:30 PM Mountain Time, the Committee will hear testimony on House Bill H0196 Fair Chance Employment Act.

Call to action: sign up to testify or write to members of the House Judiciary, Rules & Administration Committee to share your story!

Employment can be a huge barrier to success after incarceration. This bill seeks to provide an opportunity to be judged on your qualifications before you are judged for your past mistakes.

Find out who the members of the Committee are by clicking here.

What is the Fair Chance Employment Act?

The Fair Chance Employment Act is a new so-called “ban the box” law that asks employers to gather information about an applicant’s qualifications before their criminal history.

The premise behind this and other ban the box laws is that those who are coming out of prison will still have an opportunity to get hired for jobs they’re qualified for without undue discrimination before they’ve even been given a chance to show their qualifications.

“Ban the box” refers to the removal of what’s usually a box on an application that asks whether the applicant has ever had a felony conviction or been arrested (or other similar language).

With the Fair Chance Employment Act and similar legislation, these questions are becoming less and less common, as employers are now giving more people the opportunity to go through the hiring process and then giving offers that are conditioned upon the results of background screenings and more.

The Fair Chance Employment Act is one of the latest of these laws, and it applies to all private employers, with limited exceptions.

It’s important to note that ban the box laws do not mean that employers cannot take past criminal history into account. Rather, they mean it should not be an automatic disqualifier, and circumstances should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the applicant’s history is relevant to the job and recent enough to be applicable.

This is why these laws seek to remove such questions early in the process; when they’re present too soon, they’re more likely to be used as a data point for disqualification.

If the question is only allowed after an applicant’s qualifications have been determined, or after a conditional offer of employment, it encourages case-by-case review. (Also note that the law itself does have some exceptions, such as law enforcement, daycares, schools, the Boys & Girls Club and more.)

For those impacted by the Fair Chance Employment Act, if the law is passed, it will not take effect until July 1, 2021, providing employers the time between now and when the law goes into effect to review and update their application materials to ensure they’re compliant. This will also give those involved in the hiring process time to understand the new regs. Once the new rules are in effect, there will not be penalties for violating it.

Read the full text of the bill here.

Write to your Legislator to express your support for Fair Chance Hiring practices

Writing a Letter

Be courteous and informative in your communication.
Personalize the letter by including examples of how the legislation might impact you and your family. Keep the letter brief-not more than one page.

Sending E-mail Communication to a Legislator
The same guidelines apply to e-mail as to written letters. If you do send an e-mail, send it to the representative. Do not copy other representatives or send a mass e-mail.

Phone Calls to a Legislator
State your name and address and identify yourself as the legislator’s constituent. You will often be speaking with a secretary or aide. Briefly make known your position as they keep track of the issues that people call about to report to the legislator. Have your thoughts organized in advance, which will help you to keep the call brief and to the point. It is also very helpful to share how the issue affects you personally. Thank them for their support.

HIRING JUSTICE-INVOLVED INDIVIDUALS MAKES STRONG BUSINESS SENSE

REENTRY WORKERS STAY LONGER

The ACLU confirms that employees with records are retained at higher rates than those without criminal histories. Click for the report.

REENTRY WORKERS WORK HARDER

2 out of 3 HR professionals think the quality of work is as high or higher for employees with a criminal records versus those with no criminal record. Click for SHRM survey.

EMPLOYER TAX CREDITS FOR WAGES

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) offers employers up to 50% of first year qualified wages in tax credit when hiring an applicant formerly convicted of a felony. Click for hiring incentives.

We need to move beyond the two prongs of ‘bottom-line’ and ‘growth’ as companies, and understand that we all will thrive when we include the third prong of ‘investing in the community.'”

Business Owner


TAKE THE FAIR CHANCE HIRING PLEDGE

I’m open to hiring justice-involved individuals.

I’m ready to take the pledge.

By taking this pledge, your business is joining a community of local, state, and national partners that believes in providing second chances.

In addition to taking the pledge, your company can make additional commitments to achieve the goals of promoting opportunity for all, eliminating barriers to reentry, and providing meaningful opportunities to succeed for reentering individuals. Examples include:

  1. Promote Fair Chance Hiring Practices:
    The most important contribution businesses can make to this effort is to give a fair chance to all applicants, to ensure that information regarding an applicant’s criminal record is considered in proper context, and to engage in hiring practices that do not unnecessarily place jobs out of reach for those with criminal records. Specifically, you can commit to:
    • Banning the Box by delaying criminal history questions until later in the hiring process;
    • Training human resources staff on making fair decisions regarding applicants with criminal records;
    • Ensuring internships and job training are available to individuals with criminal records;
    • Using reliable background check providers to help ensure accuracy;
    • Hosting a Fair Chance and Opportunity Job Fair
  2. Taking Action in Your Local Community.
    While the focus is on fair chance opportunity, there are other important ways for businesses to contribute this effort, such as:
    • Supplying tools for success (business clothing, cell phones, internet service, transit cards, or child care services);
    • Offering support to regional reentry facilities;
    • Providing mentors to children of incarcerated parents.

We encourage you to share best practices and success stories with other employers.