Employers perform criminal record checks on new employees. In many cases, employers immediately deny anyone with a criminal record.
However, evidence suggests that companies may be missing an opportunity by not hiring reformed criminals. Hiring someone with a criminal record can help companies qualify for a tax credit, for example. It can also get employers an excellent employee at a bargain price.
As the economy nears full employment, companies are looking for unique ways to attract talent.
Here are some of the reasons to consider hiring someone with a criminal record.
1 in 3 Americans Have a Criminal Record
When you think of a criminal, you have a certain image in your head. However, having a criminal record is much more common than many people realize.
According to the FBI, 73.5 million Americans have a criminal record, or about 1 in 3 adults. Roughly 11,000 names are added to the FBI’s criminal database every day.
Many of these people were arrested without being convicted, yet the incident still appears on a criminal record check.
Approximately 2.2 million Americans – or about 3 of 100 people – are currently in prison.
No matter how you look at it, many Americans have some connection to America’s prison system or criminal databases. Being a criminal is more common than you think.
Employers who ignore people with criminal records are eliminating a significant portion of the population – including people with unique skills, experience, or talent that cannot be found elsewhere.
You May Qualify for Tax Credits
Companies that hire people with a criminal record may qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). This tax credit can give your business an additional $1,200 to $9,600 every year. Plus, hiring multiple employees can raise the savings even further. For small businesses, this tax credit can make an enormous impact on the bottom line.
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit does not apply to all businesses in all situations. If your business qualifies, however, then you can save a substantial amount of money.
They’re Loyal and Hardworking
“If you knew that the only way that you could survive is if you did well at your job, would you work really hard? Of course you would,” explains Ron Stefanski, who runs a website called JobsForFelonsHub.com, in a chat with GoodHire.com.
“And this is the exact situation that people who have records face. They understand that they don’t have a lot of opportunities in the job market and will do anything they can to go above and beyond expectations.”
Studies back up the idea that felons work harder. One SHRM study showed that HR professionals believe people with criminal histories have an equal or better quality of work as people without criminal histories.
It’s Becoming More Common and Acceptable to Hire People with Criminal Records
Today’s labor market is tight. That’s one reason why a growing number of employers are hiring people with criminal records.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Charles Koch Institute (CKI) recently released a study showing that employers are willing to hire someone with a criminal record if that person is the best person for the job.
“Two-thirds of managers and three-fourths of HR professionals have hired people who committed misdemeanors or substance-related felonies such as DUIs,” explains SHRM.org.
“And more than two-thirds of HR professionals who have hired people with criminal histories think their quality of work is as high or higher than the work of employees who don’t have a criminal record.”
The report also found that only 14% of human resource managers would not consider hiring ex-criminals.
That’s why more American companies, including McDonald’s, Comcast, and Delta Air Lines, are hiring ex-criminals as part of a specific inclusion strategy.
They Have Already Served Their Time
For many criminals, the justice system works as intended. The person got caught committing a crime. The person does their time, gets reformed, and never commits a crime again.
People with criminal records have already served their sentence. In the eyes of the law, they received a punishment for the crime and did everything that was asked of them. According to the law, further punishment is not required.
Punishing someone with a criminal record after they have already served their time does not make sense.
Hiring Ex-Criminals Can Genuinely Help Someone
People with criminal records are often discouraged while searching for work. It’s hard enough to find a job, but finding a job with a criminal record can be significantly more challenging.
People with a criminal record may have many rights stripped from them. They may be unable to work or find a place to live, for example. Some can no longer vote.
When a company hires someone who has a criminal record, it makes a genuine difference in that person’s life.
Statistics back up this idea: studies show that employment reduces recidivism. Ex-criminals who get a job are significantly less likely to re-offend than ex-criminals without a job.
Approximately two-thirds of ex-offenders in the United States are arrested for a new offense within three years, creating a vicious and unbreakable cycle. America has one of the highest recidivism rates in the world, which means criminals are much more likely to re-offend in the United States than, say, Norway, where fewer than 20% of criminals re-offend.
By hiring an ex-criminal, employers can help break that cycle – and get a loyal, hardworking employee.
Obtain Equal Talent at a Cheaper Salary
Finding cheap talent in this competitive labor marketplace can be tough. Ex-criminals may be a bargain for employers.
Many ex-criminals are willing to accept a lower salary – even if they have the same experience and qualifications as other potential hires. Candidates with felony convictions just want a job regardless of wages. Many want a chance to prove themselves through full-time work.
Employers who take a chance on a reformed criminal may get great talent at a reduced cost.
They’re Not Necessarily Dangerous
The word ‘felon’ creates certain images in your head. However, many people with felonies have non-violent convictions.
There are plenty of dangerous ex-criminals who re-enter the population, but many people with criminal records are not dangerous and have not committed a violent crime.
Employers can enjoy unique benefits by hiring someone with a criminal record.
Consider all of the benefits above before hiring someone with a criminal record.