Criminal Background Checks in Hiring: A Tricky Balancing Act

As a business owner, it makes sense that you would use every resource to protect your employees, customers, and assets. Background checks provide much peace of mind when bringing a new candidate to the team. However, they do not tell the whole story of a candidate. A clean driving record is no guarantee of honesty, and a felony does not necessarily equate to a poor work ethic. So, what should you consider when deciding to use criminal background checks?

A Double-Edged Legal Sword

Yes, some high-risk roles require candidates to be vetted with a fine-toothed comb. Candidates applying for these roles must be squeaky clean so employers can avoid legal liability and even comply with certain regulations. However, over-relying on unnecessary criminal history background checks can land an employer in hot water with EEO laws. A candidate’s record must be relevant to the specific job at hand.

The Bottom-Line Benefits

Employing someone with a criminal record may feel financially risky, but it can come with some perks. Employers can claim federal tax benefits (The Work Opportunity Tax Credit) after hiring an employee from target groups, including those with felony convictions. Some states, and even local municipalities, also provide an incentive for hiring candidates with criminal records.

Boosted Employee Loyalty

Whether their charge is from years ago, or a person is recently out on work release, a criminal record makes almost every facet of life more difficult. Just having the opportunity to work can be a huge relief for an ex-felon. Employers willing to take a chance on someone with a criminal background may find that they are exceptionally hard workers. They often have much longer tenure in certain roles than other employees. With less turnover, that means fewer resources spent on finding and hiring replacements.

Valuable New Perspectives

More culturally diverse workforces perform better and more creatively. The hardships and lessons learned from someone with a criminal background can be invaluable to your team. Given the right tools for success, like mentorships and proper onboarding, these employees may enrich your work culture.

A Richer Talent Pool

In this tough hiring market, you don’t want to miss any opportunities to find talent. Though deciding to hire a candidate with a criminal history is not one to be taken lightly, it could open doors for companies to hire exceptional workers.

Carefully consider each role’s specific requirements when deciding whether or not a clean criminal record is necessary. Furthermore, each candidate’s history must be considered on an individual basis. A professional recruiting partner can help you navigate those waters without missing out on top-notch talent. Learn how here.



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