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What Happens When You Have the Perfect Candidate with a Criminal History?

Background screens are an important part of the hiring process. But what happens when a criminal background pops up? You may have the perfect candidate and you’re ready to hire but the background check puts a big crimp in your process. Many companies flat out will not hire if a criminal history shows up on your permanent record. But is this always fair? Is it even legal? What if the person paid their debt to society? Let’s explore this topic to discover your options.

Anti-Discrimination Lawsuits and Second Chance Hiring

We know federal anti-discrimination laws don’t directly relate to people with a criminal record. However, if you never hire an applicant with a criminal record, you may find yourself facing an anti-discrimination lawsuit. So, the answer is to look more closely at every candidate that has the red flag of criminal history pop up on their background check.

The reality that you should keep in mind is that an arrest isn’t the same as a conviction. If an arrest shows up, you can ask the candidate about it. It’s also important to think about, if they were convicted, whether the crime impacts their ability today to do the job. Having a small judgment lapse as a young person or even being in the wrong place at the wrong time, happens to many of us. But how does that impact what you’re asking the candidate to do today? For example, if the candidate is applying to drive a delivery truck, a poor driving record should certainly give you pause. But what if the job has nothing to do with driving?

Second chance hiring is a movement to employ formerly incarcerated people, those in recovery, or other “non-traditional” applicants back into gainful employment. It’s beneficial for employers seeking to target new job markets. The approach recognizes that there is a stigma associated with being convicted of a crime, even if the penalty has been served. Given that more than 78 million Americans have a criminal record, this is a huge untapped labor pool. The question is, will your company tap into it?

Best Practices for Second Chance Hires

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests four best practices if your organization decides to adopt second chance hiring for those great candidates that show a criminal history on their background check.

  1. Make second chance hiring a cultural norm. Approach this as a business model that makes sense for your organization.
  2. Provide the training and work support these candidates need to be effective on the job. Especially if they are transitioning out of an institution and into the workforce.
  3. Set up mentoring programs to improve employee retention and improve the experience of your new hires. This will also lessen any stigma between current employees and your second chance hires.
  4. Keep employee criminal histories confidential. SHRM suggests treating a criminal flag on a background check like you would a medical issue. That will protect you and the candidate.

Gecko Hospitality works with organizations like yours to help them hire the best talent. We focus strongly on our efforts to diversify your hiring pipeline. Talk with our team about how we can help your business.

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