Using Ban the Box and Fair Chance Hiring Practices to Your Advantage

When ban the box laws first began to sweep the nation, many employers viewed them as troublesome regulations that would constrain their ability to choose the best person for the job. Further fair chance laws that require delaying background checks were often seen in the same light — another barrier to effective hiring. In reality, though, that has rarely ever been the case. Some companies have even chosen to implement their own fair chance policies without any requirement from the state to do so.

Today, nearly three-quarters of the nation has rules to ban the box, meaning it's more likely than not that your business faces some form of background check regulation. Rather than seeing this as a barrier, it could seriously benefit your business. This is not about an effort to ban background checks altogether, after all. Let's consider why more companies have embraced fair hiring practices today. 

Understanding the laws that apply to your business

First, it's worth revisiting what regulations you may face in the first place. What does ban the box mean, for instance, and how does it differ from a fair chance law? Banning the box is about removing questions about criminal history from job applications. More often, fair chance applies to laws implementing a mandatory delay in the background check process. Usually, that means waiting until you've provided a conditional job offer.

With laws that ban the box, the pros and cons typically center around expanding job opportunities while balancing compliance costs and challenges. Instead of worrying about compliance, it might be worth re-framing the issue around how fair hiring practices can make a difference for you.

Background checks are still viable after conditional offers

Some employers worry that the conditional job offer will tie them to candidates they ultimately do not want to hire. So long as you follow the FCRA's adverse action process, it should be of little concern. Instead, your focus should land on how you benefit from delaying your criminal history inquiries.

Even for those who try to identify and avoid their own biases, a criminal record such as a non-violent felony can create an implicit bias anyway. Delaying your inquiry allows one to learn about a candidate based on their qualifications and personality. A conditional offer is your signal that someone could be a great fit. 

When you ban the box before a background check, you can evaluate the whole candidate. Rather than defining them solely by a criminal record, you can put the past into context. That may still ultimately mean denying the candidate a job. However, it may also showcase that the person has grown and changed, allowing you to assist in easing the challenges associated with reintegration after prison.

Finding the right partner for effective screening

A screening partner that understands today's regulatory environment is essential for employers. At, we're proud to support our business partners as a strong ally of fair hiring practices. From providing compliant screening services to delivering resources on the shifting recruitment landscape today, we can help you adopt policies that create fresh opportunities while keeping your business safer.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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