Fair Chance Hiring Guide

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DEAR BUSINESS LEADER, At the Salt Lake Chamber, we are committed to empowering local businesses with the resources and strategies needed to thrive in today’s dynamic economic landscape. To that end, we are excited to introduce a valuable resource that aligns with the changing needs of our community. The “Fair Chance Hiring Guide” is designed to help organizations navigate the path of hiring individuals who have previously been involved with the justice system. In a time when Utah’s unemployment rate is impressively low, it is crucial to explore different ways to meet our workforce needs. Why is this guide relevant to you? Consider this: Utah’s Workforce Shortage and Skills Gap: Utah has experienced remarkable economic growth in recent years. With record-low unemployment rates, businesses across various sectors are grappling with the challenge of securing the right talent to fuel their expansion. Untapped Potential: Having a criminal record is more common than you may think. Over 800,000 Utahns have a misdemeanor or felony level record, and many of these individuals are left out of the workforce. However, this also presents an opportunity. These individuals have diverse skills, relevant experience and strong work ethics. By embracing fair chance hiring, we can fill crucial positions with individuals eager to reintegrate into society and build meaningful careers. Supporting Community Reintegration: A growing body of evidence suggests that fair chance hiring significantly reduces recidivism rates, contributing to safer and more prosperous communities. When we provide individuals the opportunity to rebuild their lives through gainful employment, we invest in a brighter future for our region. Legal Compliance: The guide provides insights into the legal aspects of fair chance hiring, ensuring your business operates within the bounds of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws, local ordinances and state regulations. We encourage you to explore the “Fair Chance Hiring Guide” as a means to not only address your workforce needs but also to make a positive impact on the lives of those seeking a second chance. For more information, guidance and access to the guide, please visit slchamber.com. Together, we can build a stronger and more inclusive business community that benefits us all. Sincerely,

Derek Miller President & CEO Salt Lake Chamber


INTRODUCTION Utah has 44 available workers for every 100 open jobs. The workforce shortage can be felt across every industry in the state. Fortunately, there is an untapped potential in justice-involved individuals that can fill the gaps in the workforce. In today’s diverse and inclusive workforce landscape, employers are presented with a unique opportunity to tap into a pool of talented and motivated individuals – those who have overcome past challenges and are now ready to contribute positively to society. This is your guide to understanding, navigating and harnessing the potential of hiring individuals who have previously been involved with the justice system. By taking this step, organizations not only contribute to their reintegration but also stand to benefit from their resilience, determination and untapped potential. Discover the resources and strategies to make informed, responsible and rewarding hiring decisions.


BENEFITS Hiring previously justice-involved individuals can offer several benefits to employers and society as a whole: Diverse Skill Sets: Many justice-involved individuals have years of past work experience prior to their conviction or have acquired valuable skills which can be applied to various job roles. Strong Work Ethics: Having faced adversity, many justice-involved individuals are highly motivated to prove themselves, often demonstrating strong work ethics and commitment. Loyalty and Dedication: National studies show that those given a second chance tend to exhibit higher levels of loyalty and dedication to their employers, appreciating the employment opportunity. Reduced Turnover: Recent research shows that justice-involved employees may have a lower turnover rate, saving employers recruitment and training costs. Tax Incentives: Some regions offer tax credits or incentives for employers who hire individuals with justice involvement. Community Reintegration: Employing justice-involved individuals can support their successful reintegration into society, reducing recidivism rates. Diversity and Inclusion: Employers can demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion by offering opportunities to individuals regardless of their past mistakes.


Skilled Workforce: Fair chance hiring helps address labor shortages by tapping into a skilled labor pool that might otherwise be overlooked. Societal Impact: Fair chance hiring contributes to safer communities by providing opportunities for individuals to lead law-abiding lives. Legal Compliance: Fair chance hiring supports Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws and non-discrimination practices by not excluding candidates based solely on their conviction history. Goodwill and Reputation: Positive community and public relations result from responsible hiring practices that support rehabilitation efforts. Economic Benefits: Reduced recidivism and increased employment can lead to economic benefits for the community and society at large. While hiring justice-involved individuals can offer numerous advantages, employers need to implement responsible hiring practices and good policies that consider the nature of the offense, the time since the offense and the relationship the past conviction history might have to the job role. Many employers find that by offering support, training and guidance, they can help these individuals successfully reintegrate into the workforce, ultimately benefiting both the employee and the organization.


STEPS Engaging in fair chance hiring in Utah involves a thoughtful and strategic approach. Here are steps for employers to consider: 1. Educate Yourself: Learn about the legal guidelines and resources available in Utah to support the hiring of justice-involved individuals, and learn about the common misconceptions and fears surrounding hiring these individuals. 2. Internal Policy Review: Review and adapt your company’s hiring policies to be more inclusive. This may include revising application forms and interview questions to avoid discrimination based on criminal history. 3. Partner with Local Organizations: Collaborate with local reentry programs, workforce development organizations and nonprofits that specialize in supporting justice-involved individuals. These partners can help connect you with potential candidates and provide valuable support. 4. Diverse Sourcing: Ensure you’re sourcing talent from a variety of channels, including job fairs, career centers, community partners and reentry programs. This will help you reach a more diverse pool of candidates. 5. Provide Training and Support: Develop onboarding programs that provide additional support, such as mentoring, counseling or access to social services, as needed. This can help employees transition back into the workforce more successfully. 6. Adopt a Clear Policy, but Also Be Willing to Make Individualized Assessments: It’s important to set a clear policy on what types of records you will or will not consider for an open job role. Once decided, be willing to evaluate each candidate based on their qualifications, skills, the nature of their offense, its relationship to the job responsibilities and the time since the criminal conduct occurred. Consider their capacity for the job rather than solely focusing on their criminal history. 7. Collaborative Interviewing: Involve team members from different departments in the hiring process to ensure a fair evaluation of each candidate’s suitability. 8. Fair Chance Employment Practices: Practice fair chance hiring and delay inquiries about criminal history until later in the hiring process, giving candidates an opportunity to showcase their skills and qualifications first.


9. Supervision and Monitoring: Implement effective supervision and monitoring practices for fair chance employees, providing clear expectations and support for their continued success. 10. Be Flexible: Justice-involved individuals may still be under supervision and occasionally be required to check in with their probation officer during the work day. Ask these individuals what they need and develop a plan that will not interfere with work responsibilities or draw attention to their justice-involved status. Develop a good relationship with probation officers and communicate often. 11. Mentoring Programs: Establish mentors, allies or employee resource groups within your organization to connect fair chance employees with colleagues who can provide guidance and support. 12. Identify a Cohort: To create a culture of inclusion, consider hiring a cohort of two or more fair chance employees so they can lean on each other as they navigate a new workplace. 13. Offer Second Chances: Be willing to give individuals a chance to prove themselves and grow within your organization. Consider promoting from within and providing opportunities for skill development and advancement. 14. Create a Supportive Culture: Foster a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusivity, promoting a safe and supportive environment for all employees. 15. Evaluate and Adjust: Continuously assess your hiring and retention practices for fair chance employees, making adjustments as needed to improve their experience and success. 16. Community Involvement: Engage with local reentry programs and organizations to participate in community-building efforts and support the reintegration of justice-involved individuals. 17. Celebrate Success Stories: Share the success stories of fair chance employees within your organization to inspire and motivate others to consider hiring individuals with justice involvement. By following these steps, employers in Utah can create a more inclusive and supportive work environment that benefits both their organizations and the individuals seeking a second chance at building a successful career.


CONSIDERATIONS Hiring justice-involved individuals may have legal implications for employers, but these implications can vary depending on federal, state and local laws, as well as the nature of the individual’s conviction. Here are some key legal considerations:

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Guidelines The EEOC provides guidance on the treatment of justice-involved applicants or employees. Employers should be aware of EEOC guidelines to ensure they do not discriminate based on criminal history and that their hiring practices are fair and non-discriminatory.

Utah State Laws State laws can significantly impact hiring practices. Employers should understand Utah’s specific regulations regarding the employment of justice-involved individuals.

Consider Nature of the Offense, Relationship to Job Role and Time Since Conduct Consider the nature and severity of the offense, its relevance or relationship to the job you are hiring for, as well as how much time has passed since the criminal conduct. Certain offenses may disqualify individuals from certain roles, especially those that involve trust, handling finances or working with vulnerable populations.


Bonding and Insurance Some industries may require fidelity bonding for justice-involved employees. Employers should explore this option to mitigate potential risks.

Federal Bonding Program The Federal Bonding Program is a U.S. government initiative that provides fidelity bonds to employers who hire individuals with barriers to employment, including those with a history of incarceration.

Liability Concerns Employers may be liable for negligent hiring or retention if they hire an individual who poses a foreseeable risk to others due to their criminal history. Conducting due diligence in the hiring process is important to mitigate this risk.

RESOURCES Businesses seeking fair chance hiring have access to a multitude of resources at the state, local and federal levels, offering support and guidance to promote inclusivity and provide opportunities to individuals seeking employment.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Employers that conduct background checks must adhere to the FCRA, which outlines disclosure and consent requirements. Complying with FCRA ensures that the background check process is lawful.

Utah’s Clean Slate Law In 2019, Utah lawmakers unanimously passed a clean slate law, automating criminal record clearance for lower-level misdemeanor offenses, as long as a person remains crime free for a set period of time. While this law is very impactful, it does not have a direct notification requirement to the individual that their record has been cleared or expunged. Employers should educate themselves about the law, help spread the word about it to their employees and become familiar with the services of Clean Slate Utah.

Record Expungement or Pardon In some cases, individuals may be eligible to have their criminal records expunged or receive a pardon, which can make it easier for a person to find a job. Employers can help educate people about record clearance options available to them.

Expungement Services by Rasa Rasa Legal is a local, mission-driven Utah business that helps justice-involved individuals determine their eligibility for expungement and provides low-cost legal services to these individuals. Rasa interacts with a high number of job seekers on its platform and works with Utah businesses to offer record clearance services as a way to recruit and retain good talent.


Talent Ready Utah The Talent Ready Utah program, administered by the Utah System of Higher Education, represents a collaborative effort between educational institutions and industries in Utah. Talent Ready Utah serves as a platform for educational and industrial collaboration, focusing on skill development and broadening horizons for students. It’s a vital component in ensuring that Utah maintains a highly skilled and competitive workforce. Return to Work Grant The Return to Work Grant provides adults opportunities to re-enter the workforce after an extended absence and gives innovative return-to-work programs that offer experience, training, skills, mentoring and networking opportunities aligned with a targeted career path. Utah Works Utah Works allows education partners to develop customized curriculum for pre-employment and early employment trainings. Talent Ready Apprenticeship Connection The Talent Ready Apprenticeship Connection provides meaningful work experience for students engaged in learning the skills they need for a successful career. On-the-Job-Training On-the-Job Training offers reimbursement to employers who provide customized job training for participants. Employers can be in the public, private or nonprofit sector. In addition, reimbursement for up to 50 percent of a new employee’s training wages for up to six months is available. Employers must plan to hire the individual after the training period.


Work Opportunity Tax Credit The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit program designed to incentivize employers to hire individuals from certain targeted groups who often face barriers to employment. Justice-involved individuals who have completed or are still in the process of completing their sentence often qualify. The WOTC program, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service, is one workforce program that incentivizes workplace diversity and facilitates access to good jobs for American workers. Employers of all sizes are eligible to claim the WOTC and may be taxable or tax-exempt businesses. Requirements: The program is for new hires who meet target group criteria and begin work before December 31, 2025. To apply for certification, employers must submit the application forms no later than 28 days from the new hire start date. Benefit: The credit offers 25 percent of qualified first-year wages for those employed at least 120 hours but fewer than 400 hours and 40 percent for those employed 400 hours or more. Most targeted groups’ maximum credit is $2,400. For more information on the forms required, the certification process, and the Utah WOTC Unit contact information, visit: jobs.utah.gov/employer/business/wotc.html It’s essential for employers to consult with legal counsel or HR experts well-versed in employment law to ensure that their hiring practices comply with all relevant laws and regulations. Discrimination, negligent hiring and failure to follow applicable laws can result in legal consequences for employers. Employers should engage in the hiring of justice-involved individuals with a balanced approach that considers both the rights of the individual and the legitimate interests of the organization.


AD D I TI ONA L H E L P F UL R E S O U R CE S Business Leaders, Employees Talk Benefits of Second Chance Hiring (SHRM, 2023) shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/ global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/business-leaders-employees-talk-benefits-of-second-chance-hiring.aspx Breaking the Barriers: Why Fair Chance Hiring Benefits Everyone (2023) rasa-legal.com/blog/ breaking-the-barriers-why-fair-chance-hiring-benefits-everyone Resources for DEI Initiatives and Second Chance Hiring (SHRM, 2021) shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/ global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/resources-for-dei-secondchance-hiring.aspx Give Job Applicants with a Record a Fair Chance (Harvard Business Review, 2020) hbr.org/2020/09/ give-job-applicants-with-criminal-records-a-fair-chance 9 Myths About Hiring People with Records (Cornell University, 2020) ilr.cornell.edu/work-and-coronavirus/employer-best-practices/9-myths-about-hiring-people-criminal-records


CERTIFIED TRAINING PROGRAMS In Utah’s correctional system, justice-involved individuals have the opportunity to receive training and certification in vocational trades through collaboration with various applied technology colleges. Depending on their location, justice-involved individuals can earn certificates from Davis Technical College, Uintah Basin Technical College or Snow College. The Department of Corrections Programming Division coordinates these efforts.

CNC Machining This program equips students with the knowledge and skills to operate computer numerical control (CNC) machines, enabling them to create precise and complex metal or plastic parts used in various industries. Offered to: Male Program Training Location: Utah Department of Corrections

Automotive Technology This program provides participants with expertise in automotive diagnostics, maintenance and repair, preparing them for careers in the automotive industry by mastering cutting-edge automotive technologies and systems. Offered to: Male Program Training Location: Utah Department of Corrections

Business Administrative Services This program focuses on teaching fundamental computer skills and software applications, making students proficient in essential office tools like word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. Offered to: Male Program, Female Program Training Location: Utah Department of Corrections


Culinary Arts This program offers aspiring chefs and culinary enthusiasts hands-on training in culinary techniques, food preparation and kitchen management, setting them on the path to becoming skilled culinary professionals. Offered to: Female Program Training Location: Utah Department of Corrections, Central Utah Correctional Facility – Gunnison

Welding Technology This program provides students the opportunity to learn the art of welding, including various welding processes and techniques, enabling them to join metals securely for construction, manufacturing and fabrication purposes. Offered to: Male Program Training Location: Utah Department of Corrections

Information Technology This program covers a wide array of IT skills, including computer hardware and software maintenance, networking and cybersecurity, preparing students for careers in the IT sector. Offered to: Female Program Training Location: Utah Department of Corrections

Automation & Robotics This program allows participants to gain expertise in designing, programming and maintaining automated systems and robots, critical for industries that rely on automation for efficiency and precision. Offered to: Female Program Training Location: Utah Department of Corrections

Web & Graphic Design This program gives aspiring designers the opportunity to acquire skills in creating visually appealing websites, graphics and digital media, making them proficient in modern design software and techniques. Offered to: Male Program, Female Program Training Location: Utah Department of Corrections


LANGUAGE Justice-involved individuals are not defined by their conviction history. The words we use to reference people should reflect their full identities and acknowledge their capacity to change and grow. Be mindful of how you speak. We encourage businesses to use humanizing language — their example will inspire others.





Offender, Inmate, Felon, Criminal, Convict, Prisoner, Delinquent

Person with justice involvement

Person or individual with justice system involvement; Person or individual impacted by the justice system; Person or individual affected by the justice system

Ex-offender, Ex-con, Ex-prisoner

History of justice involvement; Formerly incarcerated

Person or individual with prior justice system involvement; Person or individual previously incarcerated; Person or individual with justice history




Parolee, Probationer, Detainee

Under judicial supervision

Person or individual on parole; Person or individual currently under parole supervision; Person or individual on probation; Person or individual in detention

Juvenile Offender, Juvenile Delinquent

Young justice-involved person

Young person with justice system involvement; Young adult impacted by the justice system

Source: Words Matter (Fortune Society, 2020) https://fortunesociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/final-humanizing-language.pdf

TESTIMONIALS “We currently have two employees we hired who have been significantly involved with the justice system. No one would give them a chance. That was almost three years ago. Both employees today are some of the best we have. Both employees have now taken the initiative to elevate their level of skill as CNC Machinists; a level beyond other employees who have been with our company much longer. Both employees are now full-time dads and husbands, contributing at home the same way they do at our shop. They both are reliable, show up to work on time every day, first to volunteer for overtime and produce precision machined components with quality that I trust. One of these employees will serve as a mentor for other formerly incarcerated employees, which will help further develop his leadership skills and be a valuable resource for anyone desiring to make a successful transition into a new career. More importantly, this will help reinforce our trust, confidence and commitment to his personal growth.”



“I am grateful for the opportunity Sunroc has given me to develop and pursue my full potential. This allowed me to grow from laborer to construction supervisor. Many companies only saw the criminal record and shut the door before they had a chance to consider my capability and my work ethic. Because Sunroc gave me the opportunity to create value through growth and development, I have and will continue to create value for the company as I help others develop and pursue their full potential.”


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