Archive for January, 2012

Are Criminal Background Questions on Employment Applications Going Away?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

pre employment screening, employee background checkCivil rights organizations, politicians and others are calling for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to prohibit employers from asking job seekers if they have a criminal record on employment applications.

Last summer, the EEOC held a hearing regarding a possible ban on criminal background checks for screening employees, but has not yet released its opinion. Some states are already eliminating the criminal record question for state job applicants.

Why are supporters calling for the “box ban?” Some say that it prevents applicants from getting a fair chance at a job, because they don’t have an opportunity to explain the circumstances if they don’t ever get an interview. They say that too often, employers automatically eliminate anyone with a criminal history during the application process.

Others say that in most cases, the conviction is not related or relevant to the position being filled. Still others say that the disproportionate number of people of color with criminal records means this is essentially a civil rights issue. Advocates say they are behind the ban in an effort to reduce discrimination and unfair barriers against people with felony and misdemeanor convictions—particularly those that occurred years or decades ago.

Some cities have enacted ordinances prohibiting employers from asking anything about criminal backgrounds until after an applicant’s first interview. In Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston, criminal background checks are permitted after an interview, but requiring an applicant to reveal his or her criminal record on a job application is not.

Advocates say that employment is the way to a better life for individuals with criminal records, and that it levels the playing field by allowing everyone to be judged on qualifications and merit. But many employers are understandably hesitant to take that chance.

We’ll keep you posted on these possible changes, so you can make the best hiring decisions for your business.

Have you hired an employee with a criminal conviction? How did it work out?

Creating a Comfortable Workplace For Everyone

Monday, January 16th, 2012

employeescreeningblog, employee screening, pre-employment screeningFor employers, hearing that yours is a toxic work environment is not good news. Whether it’s flirtatious co-workers, religious displays, bullying or inappropriate language, there are dozens of factors that can cause people to feel uncomfortable at work. On one hand, this type of environment can hurt employee morale, and cause higher levels of turnover. Under more serious circumstances, it can lead to lawsuits.

How can employers and HR managers create a work environment where every employee feels respected and comfortable? Here are a few tips that can help you shape a clear policy, so everyone knows what’s expected and what types of behavior will not be tolerated.

  1. Gather information: First, meet with employees who have expressed dissatisfaction with the work environment. You can do this individually or in groups. Ask them to share any details of inappropriate or hurtful behavior, without naming individual employees who have perpetrated the behavior.
  2. Create a list of workplace rules: Call it a code of conduct, a mission statement or a new company policy—whatever works. Take the information from the interview process and determine what is and is not acceptable. You may include items about personal behavior, such as treating employees and customers with respect, not harassing or bullying, and using language appropriate for the workplace.
  3. Communicate the rules to all employees: It’s important that staff and management alike understand that the new rules are to be taken seriously, and that infractions will not be tolerated. Disseminate the rules in whatever manner your company typically communicates important policies, and add it to the employee manual.
  4. Follow up: Handle each new complaint as it arises. Deal with the facts and avoid judgment. Clarify what happened and explain how it made the affected employee feel. Then make it clear that this behavior goes against company policy and will not be tolerated.

No employee deserves to work in a toxic environment. Make sure yours doesn’t fall into that category by following these simple steps.