Philly's fair hiring laws just got fairer
The city’s “Ban the Box” law received some updates on Monday, reinforcing a policy that prohibits employers from judging applicants too harshly on past criminal convictions.
Formally known as the Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards Act, "Ban the Box" prohibits most Philadelphia employers from asking about criminal records when hiring new employees.
Here are the biggest amendments to the law, which were proposed by Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. last year:
More employers are now required to comply. The current law, which former Mayor Michael Nutter signed into law before leaving office in January, only applied to employers with 10 or more employers.
There's now a kind of statutory limit on past convictions. Employers are now prohibited from considering convictions that are over seven years old by the time of the job interview. (This does not include time incarcerated.) But this is huge. Multiple studies show that employment is integral to recidivism for previously convicted persons.
There are stricter screening regulations. When considering an applicant's past criminal conviction, employers are now required to consider the job duties, the applicant's job history, personal references, evidence of rehabilitation. Employers can reject an applicant with criminal convictions only if the employer can "reasonably conclude that the person would be...an unacceptable risk to the business or other people."
“It has been proven time and time again that if returning citizens have steady employment they are less likely to commit crimes again,” Jones said in a statement. “I’m encouraged to know that the stronger Ban the Box legislation will make it easier for returning citizens to find employment and break the cycle of recidivism.”