Friday, July 01, 2011

Hiring That Ex-Felon

A recent library inquiry about programs available to assist employers who want to hire former convicts got me to call Elaine Kost from the state Department of Labor.

She noted two programs that she described as underutilized:

"The Federal Bonding Program (FBP) was created as a job placement tool to assist at-risk job seekers. The purpose of the program is to provide fidelity bonding at no cost to a business for the first six months of employment for hard-to-place job applicants." The term "hard to place is not limited to ex-cons. Sometimes, an employer will perform a credit check on a potential employee and will balk because of a low score; the FBP could be used for this purpose as well.

"The The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is designed to promote the hiring of individuals who qualify as a member of a target group; individuals with barriers to employment. Federal tax credits are available for hiring the following groups under WOTC:

A. Qualified recipient of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
B. Qualified Veterans
C Qualified ex-felon hired no later than one year after conviction or release from prison
D. Disconnected Youth
E. Designated Community Residents ages 18 through 39
F. Qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Referral

Notable Reentry Legislation

Article 23A, NYS Corrections Law
•Employers & occupational licensing agencies in N.Y.S. have the right to ask about ALL past convictions. It is not limited to criminal convictions.
•In N.Y. this includes all misdemeanors & felonies.
•Employers have the right to ask for a “Certificate of Disposition” from the court of conviction.
•Employers and licensing agencies must look at the specific duties and responsibilities related to the employment or license sought.
•The bearing the criminal offense will have on the ability to perform one or more job duties.
•Time that has elapsed since the criminal offense.
•Age at the time of the offense.
•Seriousness of the offense.
•Information regarding rehabilitation and good conduct (i.e. Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or Good Conduct).
•Protection of private property, safety and welfare of individual's and the general public.
•There must be a direct relationship from the nature of the crime of conviction which would have a direct bearing on the ability to perform one or more job duties.
•Job seekers have the right to ask for the reason they were not hired or fired.
•The employer has 30 days to respond to this request in writing.
•Enforcement falls to the Division of Human Rights.

The Employer Education Act 2008
•The Employer Education Act requires employers and potential employers to include a copy of Article 23A when providing a consumer report containing criminal conviction information to a third party.
•Requires the posting of Article 23A in various places of employment.

Negligent Hiring Protection
•Legislation became effective 2008
•Provides some level of protection from negligent hiring lawsuits for an employer who complies with Article 23A.
•If the employer exercises due diligence when hiring an ex-offender, the law establishes a rebuttable presumption in favor of excluding from evidence the prior incarceration or conviction.

The Montgomery Law 2008
•Lifts the discretionary ban on occupational licenses for individuals with criminal backgrounds.
•Individuals will no longer be arbitrarily denied a license to barber or practice cosmetology solely because of a criminal conviction, as well as other licensed occupations.

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