Hiring is a process that takes no prisoners — sometimes literally. People with criminal records are far more likely to be unemployed, with multiple studies finding unemployment rates around 30-40% greater than those without a record. When you consider that nearly a third of Americans have been arrested at least once, this can be devastating.
Fair Chance Hiring is an act that helps to create a path forward for individuals with criminal histories, as they take strides to rebuild their lives and re-enter the workforce. In this article, we’ll be diving into the benefits of Fair Chance Hiring and the positive impacts it could have for your organization.
What is Fair Chance Hiring?
Fair Chance Hiring is a movement that aims to give individuals with criminal histories a fair chance to re-enter the workforce. It recognizes that individuals who have been convicted of crimes may have difficulty finding employment due to stigmas associated with their criminal record, even if they have served their time and are fully capable of performing the job.
The Fair Chance Act requires employers to give job applicants with criminal histories a chance to be considered for employment. This means that employers cannot automatically disqualify job applicants based on their criminal record. Instead, employers have to conduct a thorough evaluation of the job applicant’s qualifications, skills, and experience before making a hiring decision. Employers must also provide applicants with the opportunity to explain their criminal history and how they have taken steps to rehabilitate themselves.
Who Qualifies For Fair Chance Hiring Protection
To qualify for Fair Chance Hiring, an individual must have a criminal history. The specific qualifications vary depending on the jurisdiction, but generally, the act applies to individuals who have been convicted of a crime, including misdemeanors and felonies. Some jurisdictions also extend the act to cover individuals who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime or individuals who have been incarcerated but not convicted.
How is Fair Chance Hiring Enforced?
Enforcement of Fair Chance Hiring laws varies depending on the jurisdiction. In many cases, enforcement is carried out by state agencies responsible for enforcing labor and employment laws. These agencies may investigate complaints of discrimination and may also conduct audits of employers to ensure compliance with Fair Chance Hiring laws.
In some jurisdictions, employers may be subject to fines or other penalties if they violate Fair Chance Hiring laws. For example, an employer might be required to pay out damages to an individual who was discriminated against during the hiring process based on their criminal history.
The Potential Benefits of Fair Chance Hiring
Increase Internal Diversity
Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is crucial for attracting young workers. According to a recent Glassdoor survey, over 75% of respondents cited workplace diversity as a key factor in their job search. A diverse workforce not only fosters a welcoming culture where employees feel comfortable being themselves, but it also leads to a range of unique ideas and experiences being brought to the table, ultimately driving business growth and increasing profits.
Implementing Fair Chance Hiring practices can further enhance workplace diversity and productivity. Individuals with criminal records often bring a unique perspective to the workplace, and by considering them for employment, you expand the diversity of your talent pool. This not only helps to break down barriers for those with a criminal history but also introduces fresh ideas and perspectives, ultimately contributing to a more innovative and successful business.
Hire Top Talent
Misconceptions about the competency of formerly incarcerated workers are standing between many recruiters and superior candidates. One common misconception is that individuals with criminal records are lazy or unmotivated. However, this is not based on any evidence or research. In fact, many formerly incarcerated individuals are highly motivated to succeed and rebuild their lives after incarceration. They may be eager to prove themselves and make positive contributions to the workplace.
Applicants with a criminal history statistically work just as hard or harder than their coworkers. Army enlistees who have been convicted of felonies are 33% more likely than their peers to be promoted to Sergeant.
These generalizations have no place in any hiring process. Instead, employers should evaluate job candidates based on their skills, qualifications, and experience, without regard to their criminal history.
Improve Employee Retention Rates
A more diverse workplace not only fosters a welcoming environment where employees can be themselves, but it can also lead to better employee retention rates, particularly for those with a criminal history. After experiencing incarceration or gaining a criminal record, individuals often seek stability through their work. In fact, a study conducted by Total Wine found that previously incarcerated workers were 12% less likely to quit their jobs than other workers, indicating a higher level of commitment and loyalty.
For recruiters and hiring managers, a higher employee retention rate can result in significant cost savings. On average, it costs around $4,400 to hire a single employee in the U.S. By reducing turnover by even just one employee for every ten, significant resources can be saved in recruitment and training costs.
Boost Reputation by Making an Impact
Incarcerated individuals are at their most vulnerable right after release — nearly 75% are unemployed after a year back in society. While that number dips over time, spending too much time unemployed can have serious, life-threatening consequences.
A lack of health insurance and income can cause health issues to spiral, money can dry up and cause homelessness, and a lack of stability can cause mental health problems. Providing jobs for those who need them is a way to give back to the community and show your customers and communities that your organization cares about more than just money. Fair chance hiring gives your company a fair chance as well — a chance to give back.
Add Fair Chance Hiring to Your Recruitment Strategy
Employers who wish to comply with Fair Chance Hiring laws should review their hiring practices to ensure that they are compliant with applicable laws. This may include reviewing job descriptions to ensure that they are tailored to the specific job requirements, evaluating criminal history in a fair and consistent manner, and providing job applicants with an opportunity to explain their criminal history.
By enforcing Fair Chance Hiring laws, states can help to ensure that individuals with criminal histories have a fair chance to re-enter the workforce and rebuild their lives. This can lead to reduced recidivism rates, improved employment outcomes, and a more just and equitable society.
Remove Bias with AI Recruitment Tools
To further minimize bias and promote fairness in the hiring process, many companies are turning to AI recruitment tools. These tools can help remove unconscious bias by using algorithms to analyze job applications and identify the most qualified candidates based on their skills, experience, and qualifications. AI recruitment tools can also help ensure compliance with Fair Chance Hiring laws by removing information about criminal history until later in the hiring process. It’s a positive step toward creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace and promoting a more just and equitable society.