In 2022, many employers may want to consider hiring people with a criminal record. MP’s HR compliance experts share why this tactic could be advantageous in 2022 and best practices for hiring people with a criminal history.
What is “open hiring?”
Employers have been hiring former criminals or even engaging in “open hiring” for years. “Open hiring” is a practice where employers allow potential employees to sign up for their hiring process without requiring job applications or interviews. In an open hiring model, employers simply trust these candidates (many of whom have criminal records or are homeless) to perform the work. Frequently, they apply this recruitment process to their entry level positions, where the risk of bad hiring decisions is very low, and the skills required for the job are relatively common or easy to teach. Employers must note that open hiring doesn’t work for every industry and organization. This practice is only compatible with companies that aren’t required to conduct background checks to meet industry standards and protect vulnerable populations. Some examples of industries that benefit from open hiring are:
- Food services
Top reasons to consider hiring people with criminal records
Employers that have hired people with criminal backgrounds are reaping many benefits, but these are the five main reasons to consider it.
1. Hiring people with a criminal record may qualify an employer for a Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).
WOTC is a tax credit employers may claim for hiring candidates who, in the last 12 months, were:
- Convicted of a felony; or
- Released from prison for a felony
The WOTC program incentivizes inclusive hiring for people who may be facing barriers to employment (such as ex offenders). This tactic not only helps businesses fill open positions. It may save the employer significant money on employment taxes. Note that payroll providers like MP assist with claiming WOTC and other tax credits.
2. This tactic widens employers’ talent pools in a tight 2022 job market.
In 2022 employers are fighting to fill their open positions. The talent war is on, and employers will need to get creative to attract candidates. Hiring candidates who have been overlooked due to a criminal record may help an employer find their new star players. Nearly 70 million people in America have a criminal record.
3. Candidates with a criminal history may be more reliable than their counterparts.
An employee who has a criminal record may need to meet parole requirements. These could include:
- Regular drug testing
- Close supervision and meetings with parole officers
Sometimes holding a steady job may even help a person with a criminal record reduce their parole time. With all of these factors, a candidate with a criminal history may have the motivation to be more accountable and trustworthy than the general population.
4. More inclusive hiring strengthens the employer brand.
Employer brand is critical for attracting top talent in 2022. Many workers, especially Millennials and Generation Z, want to work for organizations that serve the community and support social justice. By opening hiring processes to candidates who have been through the criminal justice process, HR professionals and employers give valuable opportunities to people excluded from the economic mainstream. Their employees could be proud to work for an organization making a significant positive impact. As an additional benefit, this isn’t just good for the employer brand. It’s also good for the organization’s consumer/client image. A company or business may garner more customers or more committed customers or clients because of their steps to embrace diversity and inclusion via their hiring efforts.
5. Hiring people with a criminal record may improve employee retention.
As an organization gives an opportunity to candidates who are frequently shut out of employment, they may gain higher loyalty. Especially when employers find it challenging to attract candidates, this kind of employee engagement could be critical to success in 2022.
How do employers avoid “negligent hiring?”
Employers who consider hiring people with criminal records should also be mitigating their risk of negligent hiring. “Negligent hiring” is when an employer doesn’t properly screen a worker during the hiring process, and that worker harms someone else. Successful negligent hiring claims establish:
- The employer owed a “duty of care” to clients, employees, etc. when hiring the worker
- The employer breached their duty
- The breach caused injury or harm
- This injury or harm was reasonably foreseeable
- Damages resulted from the employer’s inaction
Employers are responsible for avoiding negligent hiring both during the hiring process and afterward, during training and employment.
To reduce the risk of negligent hiring, organizations should update their hiring process. They must evaluate candidates for potential violence or harm to employees, customers, clients, etc. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) suggests that employers consider these factors:
- The nature of the crime
- How much time has passed since the crime or the prison sentence was completed
- How the crime may impact (or not) the candidate’s ability to perform the job without causing harm to the organization, its clients, customers, employees, managers, etc.
Another strategy to avoid negligent hiring is to consult with competitors about screening for safe employees and working conditions. If employers aren’t in line with industry standards or state and federal standards, this may be dangerous and lead to conditions for negligent hiring.
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