Nearly 1/3 of Americans have a previous arrest or conviction record. The need for these 70 million people to gain employment is essential on an individual and an economic level.

“Second chance hiring encourages businesses to consider candidates with criminal backgrounds and make them employable. It focuses on helping employers evaluate their overall value to the company instead of directly rejecting them because of their criminal record.”

source: 6 Tools for Hiring People with Criminal Backgrounds — Ongig

So what are the benefits of second chance hiring? In this blog, we dive into 3 that make considering former felons a good bet.

But first, what keeps many companies from hiring them?

 

Bias & Legal Backlash Prevent Second Chance Hiring

Many employers are unwilling to hire people with a conviction record (also known as Second Chance Hiring). And many require applicants to show they have a “clean” record during the hiring process.

In 2015, the Ban the Box Law legally required employers to remove this question from the initial application process. But it still allows them to ask for criminal record status once an interview or employment is offered. Ban the Box affects hiring in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and over 150 cities and counties in the U.S.

Even though this is a step in the right direction, there are critics of Ban the Box. But why?

It’s mainly due to data that says it leads to sweeping biases for certain groups who are thought to be more likely to “have a record” (e.g., people with low education status and People of Color). One study found that:

“young black men without a college degree (not all of whom had criminal backgrounds) were turned down at higher rates when employers didn’t ask applicants about their criminal history.”

Researchers: Some employer fears about hiring ex-cons are unfounded by Maya Dukmasova

Outside of bias, many employers say legal backlash is their reason for weeding out applications from “former felons.” But why?

Employers have faced negligent hiring lawsuits for hiring someone “with a record” who has broken the law in their new position. And, insurance against these occurrences is often hard to obtain by employers.

 

What Are the Benefits of Second Chance Hiring?

Although some co.s have reservations about second chance hiring, the need to find work for these 70 million people still exists. So what are the benefits of second chance hiring?

Let’s dive in:

1. “Former Felons” are more likely to be loyal employees

Research shows:

“having a criminal background makes an employee less likely to leave voluntarily and likely to have a longer tenure.” 

source: Criminal background and job performance by Dylan Minor, Nicola Persico & Deborah M. Weiss

Loyalty is one of the biggest benefits of second chance hiring. Loyal employees are a great asset since the average onboarding cost of new employees is around $4,000.

2. Employers receive tax breaks for employing “Former Felons”

Tax breaks are another one of the benefits of second chance hiring.

Federal, state, and municipal governments offer these programs for employers willing to hire “former felons” under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).

The tax credit is worth up to 40% of $6,000 paid in wages, making the maximum credit $2,400.

“The credit applies to a former felon who has been convicted of a felony under any federal or state law, and is hired not more than 1 year after the conviction or release from prison for that felony.”

WOTC Questions: Is there a California state Tax Credit for hiring ex-offenders? by WOTC Blog

3. “Former Felons” are more likely to be promoted

Data from the U.S. military shows that not only are second chance hires no more likely to be released from service for misconduct than their peers without prior offenses, but they are more likely to receive promotions and to higher ranks.

Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System (like other companies) makes an effort to hire former felons and found that they had a lower turnover rate than people without a record. Michelle Natividad Rodriguez, a senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project, said:

“What we heard time and again from people who hired people with records is they found some very mature workers who have gone through life experiences and had some negative experiences, and arrived at a point where they are dedicated to making things work,” she said. “That means working hard, and developing loyalty and commitment to the employer.”

source: Americans with criminal records may outperform on the job by Aimee Picchi

Note: If your company is thinking about a second chance hiring strategy, here are 5 Tips for Hiring Former Felons you might find helpful.

 

Why I wrote this:

Ongig is on a mission to help HR pros create effective and inclusive job descriptions to attract top talent. Former felons are an untapped talent pool you might want to focus on recruiting. Especially if you want loyal, long-time employees.

 

Thanks to my sources:

  1. EX-OFFENDERS LESS LIKELY TO QUIT THEIR JOBS, NO MORE LIKELY TO BE FIRED THAN OTHER EMPLOYEES by Amy Korte
  2. ENSURING PEOPLE WITH CONVICTIONS HAVE A FAIR CHANCE TO WORK by NELP
  3. BAN THE BOX: U.S. CITIES, COUNTIES, AND STATES ADOPT FAIR HIRING POLICIES by Beth Avery & Han Lu
  4. Tax Breaks for Employers Who Hire Felons by Lainie Petersen
  5. Work Opportunity Tax Credit by IRS
  6. WOTC Questions: Is there a California state Tax Credit for hiring ex-offenders? by WOTC Blog
  7. Ban-the-box laws may worsen racial bias against black job candidates, study says by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz
  8. Researchers: Some employer fears about hiring ex-cons are unfounded by Maya Dukmasova
  9. Illinois and Chicago “Ban the Box” Laws Take Effect by The National Law Review
  10. The Cost of Onboarding New Employees in 2022 (+Calculator) by Levi Olmstead
  11. Criminal background and job performance by Dylan Minor, Nicola Persico & Deborah M. Weiss

by in Diversity and Inclusion

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