Thinking about hiring someone with a criminal record? Here’s a few things you should know

Nearly 1 in 3 adults in America have a criminal record, and many of them face significant challenges related to employment. As a result this population is often overlooked as a quality talent pool to employers. Employment is an essential element of success that helps keep communities safe, reduces the likelihood of a future encounter with the justice system, promotes self-worth, and boosts the economy. 

Hiring practices for employers

One simple thing employers can easily do to be more inclusive in hiring practices is to ask about a criminal record after a candidate is determined to be qualified for an opening (“move the box”). 

After an applicant is found to be qualified for a position and the employer decides to inquire about a past criminal record, here are a few things to consider if the applicant has a record:

  • The nature and gravity of the offense or conduct
  • The time that has passed since the offense or conduct and/or completion of the sentence
  • The nature of the job held or sought

Hiring policies where employers move the box—that is, they do not ask about a criminal history on the application—can improve the employer’s talent pool and result in increased hiring of qualified candidates. 

Benefits to hiring individuals with a criminal record

Benefits to the Employer:
  • Increased talent pool of applicants.
  • Increased hiring of qualified candidates.
  • Increased retention once hired.
  • Potential tax credits.
  • Free bonds fidelity bonds, which are business insurance policies that protect employers in case of theft, forgery, larceny, or embezzlement of money or property.
Benefits to the Community:
  • Boosts the Economy—Allowing people to work increases their tax contributions, boosts sales tax, improves community ties, and saves money by keeping people out of the criminal justice system.   
  • Reduces Repeat Offending—One study found that two years after release, nearly twice as many employed people with records had avoided another brush with the law than their unemployed counterparts.

Companies are already committed!

Thousands of companies have pledged to provide a fair chance of employment for people with a criminal history. Check out some of the top employers who are already a part of the movement: 

  • American Airlines
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Facebook 
  • Google
  • The Hershey Company
  • The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System
  • Koch Industries
  • PepsiCo
  • Prudential
  • Starbucks 
  • Uber
  • Under Amour/Plank Industries
  • Unilever
  • Xerox

What can I do as an employer?

Learn more about hiring ex-offenders by taking part in our Returning Citizens Working Group!

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