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Indiana Is First to Bar Local ‘Ban the Box’ Ordinances

On April 27, 2017, Governor Eric Holcomb signed Senate Bill 312 (now PL 210-2017) into Indiana law, which will become effective July 1, 2017.  This legislation aims to assist employers who hire within Indiana to have more consistency in the hiring process. Currently, employers must adapt to city, county, municipal and township ordinances that vary in timing as to when or if conviction related questions can be asked to applicants in the hiring process. This legislation ultimately prevents local governments from passing differing versions of Ban the Box legislation throughout the state.  As usual, employers must continue to adhere to state and federal employment laws in their hiring processes.

Employers who hire in Indiana still need to include expungement language when asking about convictions within an employment application to adhere to existing HEA 1482 legislation.  As discussed in this SHRM article, unlike local Ban the Box laws, a state legislature can provide employer immunity or protection if the employer hires an ex-offender and the person commits another crime. According to The National Law Review, SB 312 states that criminal history information regarding an employee or former employee may not be introduced as evidence against an employer in a civil lawsuit based on the conduct of the employee or former employee if the criminal history information does not bear a direct relationship to the facts underlying the civil action, or if the conviction has been sealed, expunged, reversed, vacated, or pardoned, or if the criminal history information relates to an arrest or charge that did not result in a conviction.  With this in mind, the expungement language on the employment application potentially provides an additional layer of defense for claims against an employer.

State employment hiring practices in Indiana, however, will be changing.  Governor Holcomb issued an executive order for state employment that would ban the box regarding convictions until the applicant proceeded to the interview phase of the hiring process. This too, becomes effective July 1, 2017.

ExactHire does not provide legal counsel so if you have questions as to how SB 312 affects your hiring practices in Indiana, please consult your company’s legal team.  If you have any questions or changes regarding your HireCentric ATS employment application, please contact the Support Team at support@exacthire.com.  

Bipartisan Solution For Student Loan Debt Relief

To address student loan debt relief, U.S. Representatives Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Scott Peters (D-Calif.) recently announced H.R. 795, the Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act. To date, the bill has been co-sponsored by 42 representatives from 25 states, with strong support from both Republicans and Democrats.

An overview of the bill’s benefits from Rep. Davis’s website follows:

Benefits to employees include:

  • They will receive a tax-exempt benefit of up to $5,250 per year to pay on their already incurred student loan debt.

Benefits to employers include:

  • Permits employers to assist employees who already have student loans to the same degree they can help employees with continued education per 26 U.S. Code § 127.
  • Helps companies recruit and retain young, educated talent.
  • Employers can deduct the subsidy provided to employees.

Benefiting Employers, Employees, and Economy

While providing student loan debt relief is not new–employers began pioneering the benefit over the past few years–this bill would provide a tax incentive for more employers (to offer it) and employees (to take advantage of it…if they needed one). Additionally, Representative Davis believes that the proposed legislation would have a positive impact beyond just the employer and employee.

“Seven in ten college seniors last year graduated with student loan debt – which now represents the second highest form of consumer debt,” said Davis. “This debt is a drag on our economy because it prevents many young adults from contributing to our economy. Many are putting off buying a house, purchasing a car, or saving for retirement. Some companies are already offering this benefit because they see the advantage it gives them when recruiting and retaining younger employees, but we want to encourage more to participate so we can help both struggling graduates and our economy.”

Representative Peters echoed his colleague’s remarks while underlining the Act’s potential to increase the competitiveness of the U.S. workforce in a global economy. He believes that the same benefits of employer provided tuition-assistance can be realized through this legislation.

“Access to affordable higher education has made the American dream attainable for millions of Americans, and is central to our nation’s competitiveness and success,” said Peters. “Just as allowing employers to offer tax-free tuition assistance has enabled more Americans to advance their education, offering this same incentive for student loan payments will speed up the repayment process so that graduates can begin to make investments such as buying a home, starting a family, or saving for retirement,” said Peters.

Support Behind Student Loan Debt Relief

A bill of this nature will of course attract a number of supporters that stand to benefit from its passing. A number of financial tech companies–FinTechs as the cool kids call them–have lined up to support the bill. All of them have platforms designed for managing student debt relief programs. After taking a look at some of them, I can tell you two things: 1) they have some very robust, reasonably priced solutions, and 2)…they have some very creative names. One is called Peanut Butter. No joke.

However, beyond the FinTech companies, the Human Resources world has sounded off in support as well.

Kathleen Coulombe, Senior Advisor at Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) sees the proposed legislation as a win-win for employers and employees. “It allows employers to attract and retain top talent, while providing employees with valuable assistance to offset the cost of their education,” Coulombe said.

It’s also evident that there is support among employers. According to the SHRM 2016 Employee Benefits Survey, only around 4 percent of companies offer student loan repayments programs– but that’s up from 3 percent the previous year, the first year the question was asked. Bruce Elliot, SHRM Manager of Compensation and Benefits, believes this number will continue to rise. “Those numbers are understated because there is a lot of pent-up demand for this stuff,” said Elliott. “I do think it’s the beginning of a trend.”

I, for one, hope he’s right!

cultivating-company-culture-exacthire

 

Social Media In Hiring…Fair Use or Unfair Access?

A colleague asked a thought provoking question the other day…Do companies address social media in hiring, and if so, how? Good question.

In a world where the hiring process is meant to be black and white in order to make an effective hiring decision based on an applicant’s professional experience, how do employers address a gray area of accidental or intentional viewing of applicants’ social media profiles within the hiring process?

 

best practices in mobile and social recruiting | Download

 

Proceeding With Caution

Companies are still hesitant to discuss social media with applicants because of the variables associated with it and fears of potential discrimination if social media is used improperly. After all, an applicants’ social media pages may display protected information. However, with our personal and professional connections through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, it’s not uncommon to have direct or indirect social connections to potential applicants.

Often, employees spread word of job openings at their company by posting the job listing on personal social media pages. What happens when a “friend”, “follower” or “connection” is interested in that position? With that existing social media connection, a current employee has access to see the potential employee’s social media page in full candor. Once something is posted on social media, it cannot be unseen. So how much info is too much info for a current employee to see? And how much of that info can advertently or inadvertently be considered in the hiring process?

Develop Social Screening Guidelines

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released a survey in 2015 that showed 84% of employers used social media to recruit job candidates and nearly 50% used social media profiles or online searches to screen applicants.  This should not be too surprising.  Look at companies’ corporate webpages.  More often than not, there are links on a corporate page for viewers to “Like” their page, “Follow” them, or “Connect” with them on social media.  When individuals, who may later be prospective applicants, “Like”, “Follow” or “Connect” a company’s corporate page, the company gains access to view certain aspects of those individuals’ social media pages as well.

With the increasing number of people following the social media pages of companies in which they want to work, companies will need to develop guidelines on how social media information will be collected and used.  On the other side, potential applicants need to maintain professionalism within their social media page(s) and need to be cognizant that their social media page(s) may be viewed by individuals affiliated with the hiring process.

Be Aware of Your State’s Legislation

Also discussed in the Chicago Tribune article, llinois is one of a limited number of states that prohibit employers from requesting access or the password to a current or potential employee’s social media profiles.  However, that does not mean employers do not have a right to view what is publicly available.  SHRM has posted a list of states that have passed a form of legislation affecting online privacy. Since the publication of this list, the number of states passing “anti-snooping” legislation is growing so you will need to check with your company’s legal team to see if any states in which you hire have passed additional measures which affect online privacy.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) published a useful article that suggests a protocol for employers if social media is used in the hiring process.  It is essential to have a solid plan of action on how to safely and legally use social media within the organization’s hiring process to maintain a culture of non-discriminatory hiring practices.

7 Ways to Maximize Benefit and Minimize Risk according to SHRM

  1. Never ask for passwords. In several states, employers cannot ask an applicant (or employee) for his or her social media password by law. In all 50 states, asking for an applicant’s (or employee’s) password creates a real risk of violating the federal Stored Communications Act. For this reason, employers should look only at content that is public.
  2. Have HR do it. It is best if someone in HR, rather than a hiring manager, checks candidates’ social media profiles. The HR professional is more likely to know what he or she can and cannot consider.
  3. Look later in the process. Check social media profiles after an applicant has been interviewed, when his or her membership in protected groups is likely already known.
  4. Be consistent. Don’t look at only one applicant’s social media profiles.
  5. Document decisions. Print out the page containing social media content on which you base any hiring decision and record any reason for rejection, such as bad judgment. This protects you if damaging content has been deleted by the time a decision is challenged.
  6. Consider the source. Focus on the candidate’s own posts or tweets, not on what others have said about him or her. You may want to give the candidate a chance to respond to findings of worrisome social media content. There are impostor social media accounts out there.
  7. Be aware that other laws may apply. For example, if you use a third party to do social media screening, you are probably subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (and similar state laws). Also, some state laws prohibit adverse action based on off-duty conduct, except under narrow circumstances.

Fair (and Effective) Use

Employers who use social media for legitimate reasons may not be seeking to find negative items in the applicant’s profile.  On the contrary, that HR representative may be trying to confirm the applicant’s professional demeanor, professional affiliations and qualifications, along with viewing the applicant’s written communication skills.  However, if an applicant posts a negative item, such as discriminatory remarks or references to illegal activities, these items could have a strong impact on the individual’s consideration for the position.

If using social media in hiring, Human Resources, with consultation from the company legal team, needs to devise a consistent and fair use policy in accordance with adherence to providing equal employment opportunities. ExactHire does not provide legal counsel.  If you are considering the inclusion of a question(s) relating to social media within your employment application(s), please consult your company’s legal team to acquire their insight as to what question content, if any, can legally be included in an employment application. Once you have spoken with them, we can update your application(s) with the content you specify if you want an item added.

On a final note, since social media is a fantastic way to stay connected with updates and news, if you have not had a chance to..

Please do so!  We want to share our news with you!

What You Need to Know About Connecticut Ban the Box Legislation

Out with the old and in with the new…New Year that is.  2017 is rapidly approaching and will bring many changes to us and our country.  Personal resolutions for positive change and the inauguration of a new President are two “New Year 2017” life changing events that immediately pop into mind.  For individuals with a conviction history who seek employment in Connecticut, January 1, 2017 is not just the beginning of another year; it offers new life changing opportunities for those individuals to fulfill their Connecticut employment goals through reduced barriers to employment with the passage of “Ban the Box” legislation.

What is Ban the Box?

Ban the Box AKA “Fair Chance Policy” aims to reduce recidivism rates and future incarcerations of prior offenders by helping remove potential barriers to employment.  The policy will help individuals with criminal records “have a fair chance” to be actively considered for employment opportunities despite having blemished records when they are applying for jobs in their attempt to attain employment.

Ban the Box Connecticut Legislation

Connecticut became the newest state to join the Ban the Box movement when Governor Dannel Malloy signed H.B. No. 5237 (Public Act No. 16-83) which will become effective January 1, 2017. This act prohibits covered public and private sector employers from asking questions regarding arrests, criminal charges or convictions on an employment application. Connecticut employers can still ask about convictions, but conviction related questions must occur later at a designated point in the hiring process.  Certain exemptions exist regarding this law so please consult your company’s legal team for more information on the exemptions and qualification criteria.

States Leading the Ban the Box Movement

Currently Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Illinois, New Jersey, and Oregon have statewide public and private sector policies implemented which prohibit employers from asking about applicants’ criminal histories.  Vermont passed Ban the Box legislation on May 3, 2016; however, it does not become effective until July 1, 2017.  Numerous cities and municipalities have localized Ban the Box legislation enacted that may affect certain types of employment in specific geographic regions.  Ban the Box legislation is not just a trend as the list of local and state governments introducing versions of this type of legislation keeps increasing.  To keep abreast of states and cities who enact Ban the Box legislation, visit the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

How This Affects Employers

Employers need to be aware of the legislation that exists and what legislation is pending to be prepared for the potential impact on their organizations. If your organization currently has hiring practices in multiple states and cities, or posts job listings nationally, it is important to be cognizant of the locales’ legal expectations and determine if you need to alter verbiage on your employment application(s) and/or change specific steps in your hiring practices to be compliant with Ban the Box legislation.  Please note: The ExactHire team is not legal counsel, and we do not offer legal advice so any questions regarding your company’s eligibility for exemption with the Ban the Box legislation and/or proper verbiage for your company’s employment application(s) should be discussed with your company’s legal counsel. To learn specifically how Connecticut’s H.B. No. 5237 (Public Act No. 16-83) affects your organization’s hiring practices, please contact your company’s legal team.

ExactHire Clients

At ExactHire, we take pride in doing our best to ensure our clients’ satisfaction is the highest possible. We do whatever we can to resolve clients’ current needs and identify potential needs. After you speak with your legal counsel, and if you and your legal team decide changes need to be made to your employment application(s) to comply with legislation, the ExactHire team will work with you to create a new application with the verbiage you specify for compliance. Also, please know that one of the benefits of using ExactHire’s HireCentric software as your applicant tracking system is that you can create multiple employment applications, each specific to your needs. If you are an existing client looking for more information about updating your current employment application(s) and/or creating additional employment applications, please email support@exacthire.com, and let us know your needs.

Learn More About ExactHire Solutions

If you are not yet an ExactHire client, for more information about HireCentric ATS, please visit our resources page or contact us today.

 

Oregon Ban The Box Legislation

As we approach the final quarter of 2015, it is never too early to start preparing for new legislation that will affect hiring practices in 2016.  Effective January 1, 2016, Oregon will become the newest state to implement “Ban the Box” legislation for both public and private sector employment.  Other states that have already enacted this practice in both public and private sector employment are Illinois, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Hawaii and New Jersey.

Oregon governor, Kate Brown, signed House Bill 3025 on June 26, 2015.  This law, H.B. 3025, will take effect on January 1, 2016 and prohibits an employer from requiring an applicant to disclose a criminal conviction on an employment application or prior to an interview.  If an employer does not conduct an interview, the employer is prohibited from requiring an applicant to disclose a criminal conviction prior to a conditional offer.  

Employers are able to notify applicants that they will later be required to disclose convictions or that a criminal background check will be conducted as part of the hiring process.  This legislation does include the caveat that an employer may still consider convictions when making hiring decisions.  For additional information on what this legislation includes, visit the Oregon State Legislature and The National Law Review.  

Upcoming “Ban the Box” Legislation

To keep abreast of states and cities who enact “Ban the Box” legislation, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) has an interactive map that provides an overview of the current legislative status.  For the actual legislation, you will need to go directly to the state or city government website to access the passed law(s) in its comprehensive language.

Employers need to be aware of the legislation that exists and what legislation is pending to be prepared for the potential impact on their organizations.  If your organization currently has hiring practices in multiple states and cities, or posts job listings nationally, it is important to be cognizant of the locales’ legal expectations and determine if you need to alter verbiage on your employment application(s) and/or change specific steps in your hiring practices to be compliant with “Ban the Box” legislation.

Please note:  The ExactHire team is not legal counsel, and we do not offer legal advice, so any questions regarding your company’s eligibility for exemption with the “Ban the Box” legislation and/or proper verbiage for your company’s employment application(s) should be discussed with your company’s legal counsel.  To learn specifically how Oregon’s H.B. 3025 affects your organization’s hiring practices, please contact your company’s legal team.

ExactHire Clients

At ExactHire, we take pride in doing our best to ensure our clients’ satisfaction is the highest possible. We do whatever we can to resolve clients’ current needs and identify potential needs.  After you speak with your legal counsel, and if you and your legal team decide changes need to be made to your employment application(s) to comply with legislation, the ExactHire team can work with you to create a new application with the verbiage you specify for compliance.  Also, please know that one of the benefits of using ExactHire’s HireCentric software as your applicant tracking system is that you can create multiple employment applications, each specific to your needs.  If you’re an existing client looking for more information about updating your current employment application(s) and/or creating additional employment applications, please email support@exacthire.com, and let us know your needs.

Learn More About ExactHire Solutions

If you are not yet an ExactHire client, for more information about HireCentric ATS, please visit our resources page or contact us today.

Human Resources Legislation & Statehouse Mumbojumbo

As we approach “election season”, I’m sure many are already tuning out the political ads.  If that’s you, you might have only clicked on this article because it has “Mumbojumbo” in the title.  But hopefully you haven’t tuned me out yet, because I would like to share with you an experience that I believe is invaluable for Human Resources professionals.

The local SHRM chapter, IndySHRM, recently hosted a Day at the Statehouse that invited anyone to join in a free, half-day learning experience. Those of us in the Human Resources field are expected to understand the business aspect as well as the human aspect of our respective industry. And when your state politicians are making laws and passing legislation that will impact your business and your humans, otherwise known as employees, then you need to know about it.

Understanding New Legislation

The Legislative Affairs committee within IndySHRM, of which I am a committee member, put together this experience at the Indiana Statehouse. The day started with an overview of the legislative process: How does legislation (a bill) get started? What does it go through?  How does it get passed? What can I do to impact this? Then our participants were presented with a list of bills that had some sort of Human Resources interest and were still alive at the halfway point of the legislative session.

One of the proposed bills talked about wage payment and wage assignments. We talked about this in-depth with the group because one of the participants, an ExactHire client as it happened to be, asked for more details. To be a key player in your organization it is wise to be knowledgeable about current laws but also those that are in the pipeline.

While we here at ExactHire are not Labor and Employment Law attorneys, we do find that investing our time in understanding the political and legal landscape is important. At the very least it helps us be a better partner to our clients. For example, if you ask us to put a question on your application asking applicants if they’ve been convicted of a felony, we are going to ask you if you are sure you want this on your application because we know several states (and some cities) have specific wording that must be used when asking about criminal history (if the questions are even allowed – see “Ban the Box”). Again, we are not legal experts and we would never give you legal advice, but we will bring items to your attention that we think you should be certain about…or for which you should pursue legal advice.

I encourage you to participate in any legal updates or recaps that your local SHRM chapters may be hosting so that you can be in the know. Those of us at ExactHire take advantage of these opportunities because we want to be the best partner we can be to our clients by staying at the front of the curve. We promise, no mumbojumbo, just a commitment to your success.