Advocates want criminal background questions removed from job applications.
Ban-the-Box Policy May Gain Momentum in Alabama
Ban-the-box policies—which remove the checkbox on job applications asking candidates if they are convicted felons—have been gaining momentum across the country, and now the issue may be heating up in Alabama. The state has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation, which may help bolster advocates’ argument.
According to the Associated Press, Birmingham Mayor William Bell is looking to issue an executive order to implement a ban-the-box policy for city jobs by late February, and Senate Minority Leader Quinton Ross plans to refile ban-the-box legislation that he first proposed last year. A ban-the-box policy for public jobs was also approved by city leaders in Mobile in 2014, but the county’s personnel board unanimously voted against it in January 2015.
If ban-the-box proponents are successful, Alabama would join 19 other states, plus the District of Columbia and more than 100 cities and counties, that have “banned the box” on job applications. This ban has typically been put in place for government employment and hiring practices, but private employers in seven states have also been banned from asking about job applicants’ criminal history upfront.
NFIB has been fighting this issue nationwide and is prepared to oppose it again in 2016.
Under ban-the-box legislation, applicants don’t go through a criminal background check until later in the interview/hiring process. So for small businesses without dedicated human resources departments to conduct costly background checks, learning about a significant criminal background late in the game means these employers may have to start the job hunt all over again. This causes extra time, cost and frustration for small business owners, as well as the risk of losing other candidates.
“It’s not about not giving somebody a second chance,” Elizabeth Milito, senior executive counsel for NFIB told the Associated Press. “It’s about being able to have that conversation with someone sooner.”