Laws governing the use of public records such as criminal background records continue to be enacted across the country. Starting January 1st 2018 the new California Fair Chance Act goes into effect which will ban employers in the state from asking job applicants about their criminal history before making a conditional offer of employment or inquiring about a job applicant’s salary history.
Of the recent changes to law in California the elimination of the question regarding criminal history from the application as well as inquiry about salary history are significant. These two changes alone should alert hiring managers and HR departments to review all existing pre-employment background screening policies in order to ensure compliance with all existing and upcoming law. This should cause employers in other States to also review their employment screening policies and procedures to get a jump on almost inevitable changes to employment screening laws in their respective jurisdictions.
The California Fair Chance Act is a significant change from previous ban-the-box laws.
From the San Francisco Chronicle (Dec. 27, 18):
Experts say the most significant new law is AB2008, the California Fair Chance Act. It prohibits public- and private-sector employers with five or more employees from seeking information about a prospective worker’s criminal history in job applications or interviews or running a criminal background check until a “conditional offer of employment” has been made. The goal is to reduce recidivism by preventing employers from rejecting ex-offenders out of hand.
The act goes further than California’s existing “ban-the-box” law, which prevents employers from asking applicants about arrest records that did not result in a conviction, juvenile offenses, expunged convictions and non-felony marijuana-possession convictions more than 2 years old. The existing law also prohibits state and local government agencies (but not companies or federal agencies) from asking applicants about criminal convictions until the agency determined that the applicant meets minimum employment qualifications. sfchronicle.com/business/networth/article/New-state-workplace-laws-will-help-ex-cons-12458131.php
California being the most populous State in the Union brings even greater significance to these recent changes in law surrounding the employment arena and makes an enormous difference to how employers are allowed to go about the hiring process. Being a progressive State, California is seeking to reduce recidivism by giving past criminal offenders a fair chance at gaining employment hoping that by being employed will lessen the possibility of past offenders from committing another crime. Also by not allowing employers to ask job applicants for their previous salaries or wages on the application form should result in an increased opportunity for new employees to get a higher income offer than if they told the employer what they had made in the past.
To read more about this subject read recent press release found here: New Laws in 2018 Remind Business to Review Pre-Employment Background Screening Policies