“In 2019 the combination of an unemployment rate hovering around 3.6 % coupled with stricter government enforcement of immigration law has greatly reduced the available labor force. Companies are reaching out to the ex-offender population for help, and that’s a good thing, for communities and most importantly, people looking for a second chance. In my over 20 years of experience in the Staffing Industry, I have always recognized the value of helping people re-boot their lives and resume their careers and role in society. I am proud that we opened many doors for people through the work we do. Now, suddenly, it has become a widely accepted practice and I am very happy about that.” — Mark H Weiss, Founder, and CEO of The Action Staffing Group
Read on . . .
In 2014, New Jersey joined the growing list of states to have adopted “ban the box,” with New York following suit in 2015 and Pennsylvania in 2017. This legislation removes the conviction history question from job applications and provides a level playing field for all applicants. By removing the stigma of a conviction or arrest records from the initial application perusal by a prospective employer, the candidate’s qualifications get first consideration.
Support for these policies has grown considerably in recent years. Nationwide, 34 states and over 150 cities and counties have adopted “ban the box” initiatives.
“America today has more than seventy million inhabitants with a criminal record, and this number is growing faster than any other identifiable demographic in the country. This is a huge number of people who are having trouble finding work and making ends meet; often, the particulars of a person’s crime don’t matter nearly as much to a prospective employer as the fact that they have a record,” notes Human Resources MBA.
No one is denying that many concerns surrounding the hiring of ex-felons are worthy of consideration, such as—
- The safety and well-being of co-workers and customers
- Theft and/or fraud on the job
- A negative impact on the company’s reputation
- Concerns about liability
“However, many organizations find that due diligence and common sense is a good solution. You can find the middle ground in determining whether to hire someone who has a record. Obviously, a bank probably won’t hire someone who has been convicted of grand larceny. But there are many jobs in which a criminal conviction wouldn’t necessarily prevent a person from being a viable candidate,” suggests Dave Kenney.
To manage the risks, employers may partner with local organizations that provide training and rehabilitation services to ex-felons. For information about and referrals to such organizations, contact the unemployment and workforce development offices in your state.
Another option is the Federal Bonding Program that provides bonding for felons who are hired and mainstreamed by companies, large and small. The bond provides compensation to the employer should the company suffer theft or loss due to the employee’s dishonesty.
But really, why should we hire an ex-felon?
There are several solid reasons in favor of hiring individuals with arrests or convictions in their past.
- Long-term loyalty and commitment
First, when landing a job is difficult, an employee is much less likely to “job hop,” and much more apt to remain on the job. The feelings associated with being accepted and valued at a place of employment have a huge influence on long-term employment decisions. So does the appreciation and gratitude that often develops for the company, it’s owners, and the management team who provided the opportunity to work and provide for one’s family.
- Federal tax credits
Are you aware of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program (WOTC) provides a tax credit to employers who give ex-convicts a second chance? And there’s no limit to the number of workers for whom an employer can receive this per-hire, sizeable credit. Businesses who make a habit of employing ex-felons can realize a significant tax incentive.
- An expanded candidate pool
Considering the millions of working-age persons with prior convictions, there’s a vast amount of talent and a huge segment of the potential-candidate pool in those millions. But only if employers will consider a candidate with a criminal past. Remember, mistakes in the past do not negate talent in the present. Why limit the talent potential at your disposal, especially with many industries hampered by moderate to severe skill shortages and impacted by low unemployment rates in many areas?
- The opportunity to make a difference
And last, but by no means least, is the opportunity to offer someone a second chance. To be part of the new start that someone, and their family, may desperately need. Having a good job is a terrific incentive to make wiser choices, to stay on the right side of the law. Your willingness to look beyond past offenses and poor decisions could be the driving force toward a productive, responsible future for a candidate determined to chart a new course.
At Action Staffing Group, we’re committed to long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships with our clients and candidates. We strive to help others better themselves and believe that when people are treated right and feel better about themselves, they will do a better job for you. Those principles summarize our reason for being in business. Contact us to learn more about solutions to your staffing needs.