What Employers Must Know About Hiring Employees With a Criminal History

Hiring a convicted felon isn’t what most businesses set out to do. In fact, most companies would prefer to hire people who will be soon nominated for sainthood, which leaves candidates with a criminal record out. Employers need to keep in mind, though, that many saints have checkered pasts and so may some of your best employees. Here’s what you need to know about hiring employees with a criminal history.

What Is Ban the Box?

Most job applications have a box that applicants check off to say whether or not they have any felony or misdemeanor convictions. But, 25 states and several cities have passed “ban-the-box” laws. Some additional states have “fair chance” legislation, which means that you can’t ask the applicant about convictions on a job application.

Individual state laws vary, so double check your state or other governmental jurisdiction’s laws before you ask a person to fill out an application. As a general rule, ban the box means that you can’t ask about any convictions until you get to the job offer stage of the selection process.

The Purpose of Ban-the-Box Laws

What’s the purpose behind these laws? The state has a vested interest in getting people with a criminal history working—having a job reduces the chance of recidivism. If you want to lower crime, you want people working instead of returning to their bad ways.

But the other reason for ban-the-box laws is to stop discrimination against black men. However, research has shown that this may not be working as desired—since employers can’t ask about criminal history, they are less likely to interview black and Hispanic candidates.

Researchers looked at low-skilled men between the ages of 25 to 34 and determined that “in ban-the-box areas…   employers are less likely to interview young, low-skilled black men because those groups are more likely to include ex-offenders. They instead focus on hiring groups made up of men they believe are less likely to have gone to prison.”

So, while the laws may help actual convicts, they can adversely affect low-skilled black men who have no criminal history.

When Can You Ask About a Person’s Criminal History?

In all states, you can ask about felony convictions before you actually hire an employee. The ban-the-box legislation just prevents you from asking about criminal history before you’re ready to make an offer. When you’re ready to make an offer you can do a background check which involves asking about any convictions.

Can You Reject an Applicant Because of a Criminal History?

The answer to this question is sometimes. Some convictions prevent you from having certain types of jobs altogether. For instance, if you run a daycare, you absolutely can and must reject convicted child sexual abusers. That’s an easy decision. In other areas, the decision is not so cut and dried.

Rejecting people based on their criminal history may violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s Title VII. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that there are two key points when considering how to treat convicted job candidates. They say:

  1. Title VII prohibits employers from treating people with similar criminal records differently because of their race, national origin, or another Title VII-protected characteristic (which includes color, sex, and religion).
  2. Title VII prohibits employers from using policies or practices that screen individuals based on criminal history information if:
    • They significantly disadvantage Title VII-protected individuals such as African Americans and Hispanics; AND
    • They do not help the employer accurately decide if the person is likely to be a responsible, reliable, or safe employee.

Ban-the-box legislation is an attempt to comply with the first part of this (although, it’s not working), but what about the second part? First, you can’t assume an arrest means a person committed a crime that would disqualify the person from the job.

If your candidate has a conviction, you can consider that they committed the crime of which they were convicted. If there is simply an arrest, you can use that to start an inquiry into whether or not the person should be disqualified.

How Do You Determine Whether to Hire a Candidate With a Criminal History?

But, how do you determine if the convicted person is “likely to be a responsible, reliable, or safe employee”? That’s going to vary based on state laws,  but here are some general guidelines.

  • Treat people of different races/genders the same. If you go ahead and hire a white man with a drug conviction because it was “just a youthful indiscretion” and then reject a black man with a similar conviction you’re violating the law.
  • How long has it been since the conviction? If the job candidate has a conviction for shoplifting from six months ago, you can make a strong argument that this is not a trustworthy individual. If that conviction occurred 20 years ago, however, and no repeat convictions have occurred—not so much.
  • How does the conviction relate to the job? You can reject a person who embezzled from a previous employer as your company’s comptroller, but probably not for a job as a landscaper with no access to funds.
  • Did you give the candidate a chance to explain himself? If a candidate has a conviction that you say disqualifies him for the position, the EEOC requires you to give the person a chance to “demonstrate that the exclusion should not be applied due to his particular circumstances.” This means that you’ll have to sit down and listen to what the candidate has to say and perhaps collect some additional information.

Always Consult With Your Attorney About Hiring Employees With a Criminal History

If you wish to reject a job candidate based on a conviction, before you do so, please consult with your employment law attorney. Because state and even local laws can vary considerably, you can’t make generalized judgments on what you think is best for your business. You need to ensure that you have followed the law precisely and that you aren’t violating Title VII in any way.

Many companies skip consulting with their attorney because that discussion costs money. But, it’s considerably cheaper to pay for an initial consultation than to have to pay for the resulting lawsuit. Remember, even lawsuits that you win are incredibly expensive to litigate.

For jobs with state licensing, use the licensing procedures as your guidelines. If the licensing agency allows the person to have a license with that particular conviction, you should most likely (consult with your attorney) not consider rejecting the candidate because of that conviction either.

When trying to decide how you want to shape your policy regarding convicted felons, consider the true nature of your business. Does your business require actual saints or are normal humans enough?

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. The site is read by a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location. This information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance.­­

Why should you improve your employee onboarding program?

Employee onboarding is a very method used in talent acquisition.
If done right, employee onboarding process can easily become your secret weapon for hiring and retaining talent.

A successful employee onboarding program ensures that your best candidate actually shows up on their first day at the new job.

This is because a successful employee onboarding process starts at the moment your best candidate accepts your offer.
If you don’t engage you best candidates until their start date, they might accept a better offer or a counteroffer from their current employer.

It also helps to improve retention, engagement, satisfaction, and productivity of your new employees.

According to the Society For Human Resources Management (SHRM):

  • 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.
  • Organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50% greater new-hire productivity.
  • 54% of companies with onboarding programs reported higher employee engagement.

3 best employee onboarding tips

Here are the best 3 tips that will help get the most out of your onboarding program:

Tip #1: Plan and organize 

If you want to maximize the power of your onboarding process, you need to carefully structure it. To learn how, check out our step-by-step Guide on how to successfully onboard new employees.

Keep in mind that:

  1. A successful onboarding is a process
    A successful employee onboarding is not an event that takes place on your new employee’s first day at the office. It is a continuous process that starts at the moment your best candidate accepts your job offer.
  2. A successful onboarding is people oriented
    A successful employee onboarding is not focused on tasks, but on people.
    The human touch drives onboarding success.  The secret of great onboarding is the fact that it makes your new employees feel welcomed and integrated into your company culture from the day one!

Tip #2: Automate 

Automating your employee onboarding process will help you save time and your nerves. There are many different employee onboarding tools you can use to easily automate your onboarding process.

There are 3 main types of employee onboarding tools:

  1. Checklists: Checklists are the most simple and straightforward tool that can help you onboard new employees.
  2. Specialized tools: Specialized employee onboarding tools are tools created for the sole purpose of improving the employee onboarding process.
  3. Integrated tools: Integrated tools are comprehensive, all-in-one tools that offer solutions for your whole HR management process, including payroll, benefits, time and attendance, etc.

Tip#3: Be creative 

To make your new employees’ onboarding experience truly unique, you need to get creative! Luckily for you, we compiled the best and the most innovative employee onboarding ideas and examples from experts to inspire you!

Here are 3 simple, but creative employee onboarding ideas you can easily implement:

  1. Welcome GIF or video: Gather your team and create a welcome video for your new employee!
    If your employees shy away from a camera or you don’t have enough time on your hands, go with the quicker version – create a welcome GIF!
  2. Decorate your new employee’s desk: Decorate your new employee’s desk with some balloons, welcome sign and maybe even some cake! You can also pack your company swag (such as branded notebook, pens, T-shirt, water bottle, etc.) as a present!
  3. 100th-day party: Throwing a 100 day on the job party for your employees is a great opportunity to shower them with some attention and remind them how much you are happy to have them joined your company.
People Management Mistakes That Small Businesses Tend to Make

While there are fewer employees to contend with in a small business, people management is just as important as in larger businesses. Since small businesses may have smaller HR departments or may not have any HR department at all, the responsibility of managing the people often falls on a manager or entrepreneur whose expertise is in a different area. As a result, a few management mistakes commonly occur.

Hiring Too Fast

When a position opens up in a small business, it leaves a large void. It is often necessary to fill the position quickly in order to keep the business running smoothly. Unfortunately, many hiring managers in small companies cave in from the pressure and hire someone that may be less qualified just to fill the position.

Not Allocating Enough Resources toward Training

Training takes time and money; there is no avoiding it. Many small businesses make the grave error of failing to properly train employees. A failure to properly train can cause a company to lose customers, make an employee feel unprepared and bitter towards the company, and cost the company money.

Failing to Document Performance Issues

Performance and behavioral issues are a problem for any company. Failure to document performance issues can give employees silent approval for unacceptable behaviors, which can lead to further behavioral issues and foster discontent among faithful employees that achieve the standards. If an employee is fired for performance or behavioral issues and no documentation is made concerning the issues, the employee may also be able to collect unemployment or sue for wrongful termination.

Not Firing In a Way That Benefits the Company

Many small business owners and managers fire employees according to personal relationships, tenure, and other reasons that have nothing to do with company performance and the bottom line. If it is necessary to fire someone because the business cannot afford to keep all of the employees in position, it is important to review performance factors and make a logical decision. If an employee needs to be fired because of performance or behavior, it is important to put personal feelings aside and focus on meeting the needs of the business first.

Failing to Comply with Employment Laws

Certain employment laws apply to businesses with just one employee, while other laws apply to businesses with 12 or more. Others apply to businesses with more than 50 employees. It is critical for employers to study these requirements and take the necessary steps to comply with all applicable laws.

Small business owners must be aware of human resource laws regarding:

  • Discrimination
  • Family leave
  • Military leave
  • Minimum wage requirements
  • Overtime
  • Safety standards
  • Disability

Misclassifying Employees

Some small businesses classify employees as contractors to save on taxes, but this can be a critical error if employees do not fit the legal description of contractors. Different laws may also apply if an employee is classified as part-time instead of full-time. Small business owners must be careful to classify employees properly so that they do not incur penalties.

Top 10 Don’ts When You Fire an Employee

Firing an employee is stressful for all parties—not just for the employee losing a job. No matter how well you’ve communicated about performance problems with the employee, almost no one believes that they will actually get fired. With cause, too. The average employer waits too long to fire a non-performing employee much of the time.

So, employees convince themselves that they won’t get fired: they think that you like them; they think that you know that they are a nice person, or you recognize that they’ve been trying hard. In fact, you may believe and think all of these things. But, none of your feelings matter when the employee is not performing his job.

Firing an employee may take you awhile—usually much longer than the circumstances merit. Because you are kind, caring, and tend to give employees another chance. But, these are the top 10 things you do not want to do when you do decide to fire an employee.

Don’t Fire an Employee Unless You Are Meeting Face-to-Face

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Do not fire an employee using any electronic method—no emails, IMs, voicemails, or phone calls. Even a letter is inappropriate when you fire an employee.

When you fire an employee give them the courtesy that you would extend to any human being. They deserve a face-to-face meeting when you fire an employee. Nothing else works.

The fired employee will remember and your other employees who remain have even longer memories. And, no, during this time of social media dominance, don’t believe for a minute that the circumstances of the firing will remain secret.

You will have created a scenario in which your remaining employees are afraid to trust you. Or worse, they trust that you may harm them, too.

Don’t Fire an Employee Without Warning

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Nothing makes an employee angrier than feeling blindsided when fired. Unless an immediate, egregious act occurs, the employee should experience coaching and performance feedback over time. Before you fire an employee, try to determine what is causing the employee to fail.

If you decide the employee is able to improve her performance, provide whatever assistance is needed to encourage and support the employee. Document each step in the improvement process so that the employee has a record of what is happening at each step. The employer is also protecting its own interests in the event of a lawsuit over the termination.

If you are confident that the employee can improve, and the employee’s role allows, a performance improvement plan (PIP) may show the employee specific, measurable improvement requirements. (A PIP is difficult, if not impossible, with a manager or HR staff, once you have lost confidence in their performance.)

Do not, however, use a PIP unless you are confident that the employee can improve. The agonizing process of meeting weekly to chart no progress is horrible for the employee, the manager, and the HR rep, too.

The actual termination—while almost always somewhat of a surprise—should not come with no warning.

Don’t Fire an Employee Without a Witness

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Especially in the US, anyone can sue anybody, at any time, for any reason. In employment termination cases, the employee has to find a lawyer who believes he can win the case and thus, collect his fee. The best practice is to include a second employee in the meeting when you fire an employee.

This gives you an individual who hears and participates in the employment termination in addition to the manager. This person can also help pick up the slack if the hiring manager runs out of words or is unsure of what to say or do next.

This witness is often the Human Resources staff person. The HR person has more experience than the average manager, in firing employees, so can also help keep the discussion on track and moving to completion.

The HR person can also ensure that employees are treated fairly, equally, and with professionalism across departments and individual managers. This limits your liability when you fire an employee.

Don’t Supply Lengthy Rationale and Examples for Why You Are Firing the Employee

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If you have coached and documented an employee’s performance over time and provided frequent feedback, there is no point in rehashing your dissatisfaction when you fire the employee. It accomplishes nothing and is cruel.

Yet, every employee will ask you why. So, have an answer prepared that is honest and correctly summarizes the situation without detail or placing blame.

You want the employee to maintain her dignity during an employment termination. So, you might say, “We’ve already discussed your performance issues. We are terminating your employment because your performance does not meet the standards we expect from this position.

“We wish you well in your future endeavors and trust that you will locate a position that is a better fit for you. You have many talents and we are confident that you will locate a position that can take advantage of them.”

Or you can simply remind the employee that you have discussed issues with him or her over time, and leave it at that.

The more detailed you become, the less able you will be to use any of the information you discover following the employment termination in a subsequent lawsuit. And, as an employer, you will always find out additional information.

For example, think about a terminated HR staff person who had months of new employee paperwork in her drawer. The employees had not been enrolled in healthcare insurance.

In another example, a marketing employee had the entire bookkeeping for her bar which she operated in the evenings on her company-owned computer. (The employer was kind and gave her a copy of her bookkeeping which they didn’t need to do.)

HR Management Trends Continue

Business trends come and go, but they impact our daily work lives. When it comes to HR management, evolving technology and a shift in workforce needs will continue to shape the trends. 

As small business seek ways to operate more effectively, let’s examine four of the key trends the human capital management experts say will continue.

1. Flexible work schedules on the rise

“Flexible work arrangements” is a term you’ll continue to hear. One reason: Millennials now make up the largest generational share of the workforce, and work-life flexibility is a priority for this demographic.

More than half — 52% — of HR professionals say their companies currently offer flexible work arrangements to at least some employees, according to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey. Even more interesting, SHRM members reported that retention improved when companies simply announced they were launching flexible work arrangements — that’s how much workers want this.

Some experts predict that employers who offer flexible work schedules will see gains in recruitment and morale, as well as a reduction in turnover.

Of course, not all companies are in a position to offer flexible work schedules. But for companies managing aggressive recruiting and retention goals, it’s certainly food for thought.

2. A growing remote workforce

Eighty to ninety percent of the American workforce would like to work remotely at least part time, according to a study by Global Workplace Analytics. No wonder telecommuting has increased by 115% in the last decade!

Employees who telecommute report higher morale, lower absenteeism and greater willingness to work overtime. It’s good for the environment, too — no commuting.

And contrary to what you might think, multiple studies indicate that remote workers demonstrate greater productivity, while saving employers on office space. (For example, American Express reports saving $10 to $15 million per year in real estate costs because of its telecommuting program.)

However, many executives remain uncomfortable with the idea, and not all jobs or industries lend themselves to telecommuting. But the demand isn’t likely to go away. If talent acquisition is key to your company’s growth strategy, offering a remote work option — even part-time — could be a smart move.

3. Social recruiting on the move 

Eighty-five percent of companies use social media as a recruiting vehicle. It’s so pervasive, it even has its own name now: social recruiting. While LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook remain the big three, where will it go from here?

We will see more companies leverage mobile recruiting platforms. According to Pew Research Center, 28% of all Americans (and 53% of 18 to 29-year-olds) use their smartphones for job hunting. Half of them have completed a job application using their phones. If your company’s hiring platform isn’t mobile friendly, you’re missing out.

In addition, employers may be turning to professional/association social networking sites to recruit this year. It’s a more targeted way to hone in on experienced applicants and reach passive job candidates. Why not give it a try?

4. Using technology for HR program management

We continue to see vast advances in HR technology in every area, from time and attendance systems and benefits administration to recruiting and performance management programs.

According to Sierra-Cedar’s 2017-2018 HR Systems Survey, 50% of companies have purchased a cloud-based HR application. The migration to the cloud continues.

In addition, you can expect to hear about:

  • The adoption of continuous performance management systems. For years, employers have been moving away from an annual review process and toward an ongoing performance management process. Look for human capital management systems that actively support such year-round activities.
  • Using granular analytics to refine HR processes. While companies have been demanding HR analytics for a while, many organizations are still figuring out how to best put them to use. From recruiting metrics that allow employers to shorten the hiring process to time and attendance data that pinpoints field management issues, employers will dig in to HR analytics in increasingly meaningful ways.
  • Increased use of mobile time tracking apps. According to the Sierra-Cedar study, there’s been a 50% increase in mobile time tracking over last year. This tracks with the other trends discussed above. Employees are using their phone for more job-related activities. Employers are becoming more flexible in terms of where and when employees work. It only makes sense that HR systems like time and attendance software are able to follow along.
Need to attract millennials? Offer student loan benefits!

If you want to attract and retain millennials, it’s all about the benefits. And no perks are more sought after among this group than student loan benefits.

Ten years ago, millennials flocked to employers offering free snacks and ping-pong tables, but as this demographic matures, they seek more meaningful benefits from their company with long-term results. Similarly, growing companies have a hyper-sensitive need to appeal to the millennial group because they will soon make up a clear majority of the workforce.

Focused on their financial futures

We talk to our client’s millennial staff all the time about their needs. My team also talks to our clients, most of which are millennials, every day about how important their financial future is to them.

What we’ve learned is that most millennials have lofty goals, and if a company can help them achieve those goals by supporting their financial future beyond just an income, they have a strong chance of attracting top-performing talent. Millennials also focus on values, so if a company can demonstrate how they support and reflect their employees’ values – financial and otherwise – that goes a long way.

Student loan debt is considered an epidemic in our country and is a major obstacle to the financial independence and goals that millennials seek.  Those with student loans are constantly looking for ways to contribute savings to their payments – from more practical strategies like refinancing or taking on a “side hustle,” to extremes like selling their eggs or participating in medical trials.

Enlightened companies are beginning to recognize how student loan repayment programs can benefit their employees by enabling financial independence, which naturally creates a more positive outlook on their professional and personal life. According to a recent study we conducted with LendEdu, we found that 58% of millennials would prefer student loan refinancing benefits from employers over additional vacation days – pretty powerful! This shows, plain and simple, how millennials are looking for benefits and employers that support their financial well-being.

Offering a student debt repayment benefit reinforces that employers care about the same things their employees do, establishing trust and demonstrating how the company and staff have the same values. It also helps to boost employee morale and satisfaction, and a satisfied workforce is one that’s likely more productive, committed to their team’s success and loyal to their company.

Employers as advocates

On the recruitment side, this benefit allows employers to attract top-performing millennials who seek employers that advocate for their financial health. Companies that are first to introduce this benefit are shaping their brand perception as one that’s invested not only in the financial health of their employees, but in doing good for people facing an extreme burden.

In a time where job switching has become more common – and where 50% of millennials carry student loan debt – student loan refinancing benefits can help encourage employees to stick around for the long-haul. This benefit establishes trust and demonstrates that employers care deeply about the financial future and overall well-being of their staff, which, for millennials, is far more appealing than most “work perks.”

 

 

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