Federal Ban-the-Box Laws Could Improve Your Job Opportunities

Federal Ban-the-Box Laws Could Improve Your Job Opportunities

September 25, 2023

On September 1, 2023, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a final rule to implement the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019. This Act will officially take effect on October 3, 2023.

The Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019 expands the 2016 Ban-the-Box rule. It also regulates when federal agencies and contractors can request an applicant’s criminal record. As such, this Act should present more opportunities to compete for jobs with federal agencies and contractors. 

What It Does

According to the final rule implementing the 2019 Fair Chance Act, “Unless otherwise required by law, an employee of an agency may not request, in oral or written form (including through the Declaration for Federal Employment (OF 306) or any similar successor form, the USAJOBS internet website, or any other electronic means) that an applicant for an appointment to a position in the civil service disclose criminal history record information regarding the applicant before the appointing authority extends a conditional offer to the applicant.” 

As a result, this rule makes it possible for you to compete for work without your criminal record getting in the way. However, the Act includes several exceptions, including the following:

  • (i) Access to classified information; 
  • (ii) Assignment to or retention in sensitive national security duties or positions;
  • (iii) Acceptance or retention in the armed forces; or
  • Recruitment of a Federal law enforcement officer (defined in 18 U.S.C. 115(c))

Addressing Complaints

The Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019 also provides procedures for complaining about violations. The major oversight agencies will establish these processes, determining the penalties and remedies based on the employer’s category.

One example of violating the regulations is when an employer views your criminal records before offering conditional employment. This action goes against ban-the-box practices and is a violation. If you believe you are a victim of this violation, you should file a complaint.

Though ban-the-box has reached the federal level, many people remain unaware of what these laws provide. As such, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released reports demonstrating the laws’ effectiveness. The EEOC hoped to assure the public how these laws help impacted individuals.

According to the statistics, background checks reveal a criminal history roughly 22.3% of the time. However, only 2% of these cases have received unfavorable results. As such, the EEOC encourages individuals to apply for jobs with a federal agency or contractor.

Despite the encouragement, interested individuals should run a self-background check before applying for work. Running a self-check allows you to correct errors in your records and review what negative information could impact your chances. You can use this report to prepare for any questions after the potential employer conducts a background check, improving your chances of retaining the job offer.

Click here to run a self-background check to prepare for your next job interview.


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