A ​Proposed Bill Could Ban The Box For Federal Contractors

April 02, 2019
A House Committee is pushing for legislation that would prohibit job applications for federal contractors from including questions about convictions.
Backgrounds Online | April 02, 2019

A House Committee is pushing for legislation that would prohibit job applications for federal contractors from including questions about convictions.

About The Bill

H.R. 1076 was introduced by the House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman. It is a “Second Chance” bill that seeks to create a federal Ban the Box policy for contractors. If passed, the law would require questions about criminal convictions to be removed from federal job applications. Exceptions would be made for certain positions such as law enforcement, security personnel and individuals who would have access to classified data.

The goal is to create employment opportunities for people who have convictions. Currently, federal applications are allowed to ask if the person has a criminal record. Those that do are required to check a box. Any application that has this box checked is likely to be discarded immediately. This prevents the applicant from being interviewed or considered, regardless of their qualifications or what type of conviction they incurred.

Support For Banning The Box

Representative Elijah Cummings introduced H.R. 1076. It was co-sponsored by Senator Ron Johnson, who has been an ongoing proponent of Second Chance laws. He said his work in this field is the most “inspirational activity my staff and I have been involved in since I took office.” Johnson further stated that individuals who are able to obtain employment after being released from prison only have a 16% chance of returning. Those who are unable to find work have a 52% likelihood of recidivism.

According to an article in Government Executive, many members of House sub-committees are supportive of this bill. They believe that banning the box would help individuals rejoin society after satisfactorily serving out their sentence and probation. Some members, however, have expressed concerns. Representative Chip Roy suggested that delaying the release of a disclosure for criminal records could lead to additional discrimination against potential contractors.

Previous Efforts

H.R. 1076 is not the first federal Ban the Box bill. Similar laws were implemented in 2016 by the Obama administration. These laws, however, did not apply to private companies that conduct business with federal agencies.

The government has been a big proponent of second chance legislation. Numerous laws have been passed at state and city levels with the shared objective of creating employment opportunities for former convicts.

Takeaway For Employers

Any employer that works with federal agencies should be aware of H.R. 1076 and prepared to remove questions about convictions from their applications if the bill passes. All employers should be aware of the Ban the Box and Second Chance movements. We regularly see new laws passed that support these concepts. Even if you do not operate in an area that has an active Ban the Box law, best practice is prepare in advance by following these regulations now.

If you need to run background checks for your organization, please contact us. Our team keeps up with federal and state laws that cover employers throughout the country. We can help you create custom screening packages that are suited to any position in every industry. Reach us via phone, email or chat Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.