People with criminal records represent a significant portion of the workforce. There are going to be plenty of qualified candidates for construction careers that deserve a second chance. It’s still important to maintain a thorough screening process and background checks for executive-level positions, if you receive a job application from someone that has a misdemeanor or felony, you shouldn’t automatically disqualify them either. Here is some information concerning some of the legal aspects, along with a few reasons why hiring someone with a criminal record could actually benefit your business.

  1. Most employers use pre-employment checks to protect against negligent hiring lawsuits. Hiring managers are responsible for determining who might be dangerous or unfit for construction careers. But some employers are willing to overlook certain types of violations, like substance-related felonies, versus violent crimes that could put other employees in danger.
  2. Most states allow employers to use criminal records in hiring decisions. But in order to disqualify someone from employment based on a background check, you must show proof that it was a business necessity, and that the candidate could be a liability in the position if hired. You also can’t use arrest records or expunged crimes in making hiring decisions.
  3. Employers must obtain authorization and provide candidates with advance notice before accessing their credit or criminal records. Hiring managers should review the Fair Credit Reporting Act on a regular basis to avoid violating certain employee rights that are protected by federal law.
  4. Certain professions ban people with criminal records. Even though many construction jobs are flexible in regard to hiring someone with a criminal record, it’s typically an automatic disqualification for childcare, education, etc.

An effective way to keep offenders from repeating is by offering them a second chance and removing barriers to employment with fair-chance hiring programs. Ponder this statistic – close to one in three adults has a criminal record. Fair-chance employers have access to a much wider pool of candidates that will strive to prove they deserve that second chance if hired. A recent study also indicated less turnover among workers with criminal records.

The key takeaway here is that you shouldn’t judge a candidate based solely on their background or credit checks. You really need to review an applicant’s entire profile before making any final hiring decisions. If you have to use an arrest record, then ensure that it’s recent, the applicant actually committed the crime, and there is some correlation between the crime and the position they applied for.


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