Background checks are mandatory across the United States in a variety of capacities. In order to get a loan, rent an apartment, or adopt a pet, background checks are typically the norm to ensure the protection of all parties involved.
Another application wherein background checks are either considered or mandatory are for pre-employment screening purposes. Part of those background checks include reviewing criminal records, if they exist. There are obvious reasons why professionals like teachers, surgeons or babysitters undergo background checks, given that these positions deal with either the health or care of other persons. Should security guards be required to submit to background checks as well?
This question arises with the news of Georgia banning the consideration of criminal records in hiring. In other words, job applicants in Georgia will no longer be required to disclose criminal histories when applying for employment. According to the Washington Post, the primary purpose for this move is to try to ease the transition from former inmates into civilian life.
Georgia isn’t the first state to adopt the law, as it joins 14 other states who have already enacted this policy. States ranging in social policies such as Nebraska, New Mexico, California and Hawaii have applied what is now known as, “ban the box,” a reference to the check box on job application asking about prior criminal convictions. All states that have adopted the policy have placed the ban on state employment, and 6 states have banned for private employment, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
While the initiative comes with a host of the well meaning intention of criminals’ reintegration to society, it does come with concern as well. Are there some industries that could be in danger because of this policy?
One industry is the security guard industry. If a law were passed disallowing criminal background checks, security guard companies as well as insurers would have sincere cause for alarm. Given the risks associated with this line of work, it is important for employers to be able to evaluate candidates thoroughly for the protection of the company, those they intend to guard, and themselves.
Fortunately, legislators agree. While the law states employees are not required to reveal criminal history, not every state employees are free from questioning. The executive order for “ban the box” exempts what it calls “sensitive governmental positions.” These sensitive positions specifically include professionals like security officers or prison guards, persons for whom a criminal history would immediately disqualify from employment.
As further discussions continue for ban the box, it will be interesting to see if there are other positions that will be exempt from the law. For now, the good news is security companies and insurers can ask the important questions regarding criminal history.
- Security Magazine
- Washington Post