The Million Dollar Question: Do You Have a List of Employers Who Hire People with Criminal Histories?
The short answer, unfortunately, is “no.” Considering the challenges associated with getting appropriate job placements for qualified job seekers with criminal records, if there was an actual list of employers who advertised themselves as willing to hire people with criminal convictions, it would be exhausted almost immediately. While the National H.I.R.E. Network knows of no such list, we can provide a set of practices to help identify employers who maintain fair hiring practices. The most important thing to remember, though, is that the key to getting good placements is taking the time to build good, trustworthy relationships with your employer partners.
- Size: Traditionally, small- and medium-size companies that lack their own human resources departments to screen out people with criminal records are a good target. These employers tend to utilize labor market intermediaries (i.e. workforce development organizations) who offer free job referral services.
- Location/Diversity: Employers located in cities that are ethnically diverse often have representative staff, which can lead to fairer hiring policies. However, the demand for new labor is often low, since these employers are mostly small businesses in urban areas. Always look for employers who advertise themselves as being an “equal opportunity” employer.
- Career Growth Opportunities: Companies that are socially conscious and maintain a business practice of promoting employee professional growth often couple this with a broad-minded hiring policy. Remember, many of these employers like to be referred to publicly as ‘fair employers,’ rather than being identified as one who hires people with criminal records.
- Laws Governing Profession: Professions that have federal and state bars to employment and licensure for people with criminal records may not at first glance seem like a good fit for our clients, but some states have adopted Certificates of Rehabilitation to remove these statutory bars or allow a job applicant to apply for a waiver to lift the restriction.
- Nature of the Employer’s Business: Jobs that do not pose a high risk of jeopardizing public safety (i.e. construction, laborer, manufacturing, trade, and services) may be more open to hiring people with criminal records. Those that require the employee to handle a large volume of currency, enter the client’s home, or maintain valuable inventory (i.e. jewelry store, plumbing, antiques, etc.) may be less likely to hire our constituency. The use of the Federal Bonding Program may be an extremely valuable resource to convince these employers to consider hiring someone with a criminal history.
- Financial Incentives: Businesses that take advantage of the federal Welfare to Work Tax Credit when hiring job seekers who are receiving public assistance may be encouraged to hire persons with criminal records if they are made aware of similar tax incentives, such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.