4 in 5 U.S. workers say they support their jobs hiring people with criminal records

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Criminal records can become a major barrier for people seeking a job. Even though most U.S. states now have laws that prevent employers from asking about a person’s prior convictions, a new poll finds 82 percent of U.S. workers say their job application included questions about their criminal record. Despite the stigma surrounding going to jail, the survey also finds America’s attitude about this topic is changing. Four in five respondents say they would support their employers hiring people with a criminal history.

The survey of 1,200 U.S. employees and 400 U.S. executives, conducted by HR tech company Checkr, examined both sides of the hiring equation and what factors come into consideration when companies are looking to fill jobs.

When it comes to criminal records, 90 percent of executives admit certain types of offensives automatically disqualify a candidate from consideration. With that in mind, nearly half of employees (45%) say they have or know someone who did not get a job due to a criminal conviction in their past.

One in three U.S. workers add that they support their current company hiring people with previous convictions — regardless of what the conviction is. Another 47 percent say they would be comfortable working alongside these co-workers, just as long as their past arrest was not for a violent crime.

Where do bosses show bias?

The survey also delved into what workers think about their boss’s hiring practices. Researchers found that one in three employees think their company’s hiring practices discriminate against people for a number of reasons.

Out of these workers, 75 percent claim their jobs show bias against people with a criminal record. They also claim their bosses avoid hiring older workers (65%), non-English speaking workers (59%), immigrants (58%), minorities (54%), and women (53%).

Despite this perception among workers, 70 percent of executives say their companies have diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies which give people with criminal records a “fair chance” at employment. This includes 81 percent of the technology industry, 69 percent of the finance industry, and two-thirds of the retail, hotel, and transportation industries.

Do second chances work out?

For workers who get a second chance after a criminal conviction, the poll finds their bosses often have good things to say about their work.

In fact, 93 percent say fair chance employees have a good relationship with co-workers and managers. Nine in 10 bosses add these employees often work just as hard or go beyond their co-workers while on the clock.

Lastly, once these workers get another shot, executives say they’re there to stay. Eighty-five percent of executives in the poll report that “fair chance” employees usually stay with their company longer than other workers.

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