Top Menu

ESI Group - HR Web Cafe
job applicants

Hiring Compliance: Ban the Box Toolkit

job applicants


Hiring? Be aware that with the new year, several new “Ban the Box” laws are going into effect:

There are no doubt more recent initiatives recently passed or pending – this issue seems to have reached critical mass. These state and local HR ordinances are part of a trend that employment law attorney David Baron talks about in his article Employment Laws Go Local — The Rise of Municipal and State Lawmaking. Ban The Box is one example, but think minimum wage, sick pay, and other HR issues. He describes the problem – and he also offers some recommendations to employers for managing these laws at the end of his article:

“The country is rapidly moving toward a human resources professional’s worst nightmare — local governments implementing employment laws on a patchwork basis with differing rules based on city limits and state lines. Imagine the difficulty in implementing a different employment application or sick pay plan depending upon the jurisdiction. This is no longer a minor inconvenience, and local legislation is likely to get worse in the near future. This article will outline the main areas of state and city legislation and the recent laws that warrant the most attention.”

Ban the Box Toolkit

Ban the Box, defined:  First, a quick review of what “Ban the Box” is, for any that may be unaware. It’s a growing movement to give job applicants with a criminal record a fair chance when applying for jobs. The “box” refers to the ubiquitous little checkbox asking about criminal history that has been – until recently – a standard question on employment applications. Ban the Box ordinances do not prevent employers from background checks; rather, they move the issue to later in the hiring process so that an applicant has more of a fair chance to promote their qualifications and make a favorable impression. It’s not a small issue. Civil rights advocates say that there are an estimated 70 million U.S. adults with prior arrests or convictions.

Ban the Box – status of legislation: The National Employment Law Project has been very active in this issue. They issued a recent update on the current state of the laws: Ban the Box: U.S. Cities, Counties, and States Adopt Fair Hiring Policies:

“There are a total of 24 states representing nearly every region of the country that have adopted the policies  …  Nine states—Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont—have removed the conviction history question on job applications for private employers, which advocates embrace as the next step in the evolution of these policies.”

In addition, NELP says that many large employers have “banned the box” from initial applications, among them: Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Koch Industries, Starbucks, Facebook, and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Some employment law experts say that large, multi-state employers should probably adopt the practice since it is becoming pervasive. The only problem is that there are a hodgepodge of laws with different requirements.

You can check on the status of your state / local Ban the Box ordinances via this map or see this guide: Ban the Box – U.S. Cities, Counties, and States Adopt Fair-Chance an in-depth guide by Michelle Natividad Rodriguez and Beth Avery of the National Employment Law Project. It includes:

  • List of All Ban-the-Box & Fair-Chance Laws and Policies by State
  • Ban-the-Box & Fair-Chance States
  • Table Summarizing Ban-the-Box & Fair-Chance States
  • Private-Employer Laws
  • Local Ban-the-Box & Fair-Chance Laws and Policies
  • Table Summarizing Ban-the-Box & Fair-Chance Laws and Policies

Fair Chance – Ban the Box Toolkit (PDF) – Opening Job Opportunities for People with Records
Michelle Natividad Rodriguez & Anastasia Christman, National Employment Law Project

Fact Sheet: “Ban the Box” is a Fair Chance For Workers With Records
Michelle Natividad Rodriguez, National Employment Law Project

“Removing questions about conviction history from job applications is a simple policy change that eases hiring barriers and creates a fair chance to compete for jobs. Known as “ban the box,” this change allows employers to judge applicants on their qualifications first, without the stigma of a record.

The most effective policies don’t just remove the “box”; they ensure that conviction information is used fairly. Employers should make individualized assessments instead of blanket exclusions and consider the age of the offense and its relevance to the job. Candidates should be given an opportunity to review background-check results.”

Best Practices and Model Fair-Chance Policies
Michelle Natividad Rodriguez, National Employment Law Project

“As you craft a fair chance policy, including “ban the box,” here are the top ten principles to follow. These have been distilled from our work with jurisdictions across the country and are applicable to any state or region. We have also included the following model policies and laws: a local administrative memo, a local resolution, a local ordinance, a state executive order, and state legislation.”

News & commentary on Ban the Box

Continue Reading
moving ahead

Year in Review Great Big List: 2016 recap; 2017 projected trends

moving ahead

Time for our Year in Review Great Big List. The close of one year and the start of a new one is always a great time to pass the torch from one year to the next, to reflect, reassess, and look future goals. Here’s a recap of 2016 events that affected the workplace, as well as a look ahead to trends and issues that are likely to impact you in the coming year.

And because we’ve all eaten dessert before the main course on occasion – especially over the holidays – we’ll kick things off with some of the odder, more amusing HR moments in the past year.

Melissa Blazejak of HR Daily Advisor brings you smell harassment, vegan discrimination and flatulence in the roundup of
Top 20 HR Strange But True Stories for 2016, Part 1 and Part 2.

Christian Schappel of HR Morning offers The dumbest things employees, applicants did in 2016.

And Andrew G. Simpson of Insurance Journal Top 10 ‘Most Ridiculous’ Lawsuits of 2016, according to the Chamber of Commerce

For the meat and potatoes, see the Top [HR] Stories of 2016, Michael J. O’Brien’s picks from Human Resource Executive Online.

Get the Top 10 EBA stories of 2016 slideshow style.

In case you missed them, Christian Schappel of HR Morning offers the Top 10 biggest HR stories of 2016

Romy Newman of Human Resource Executive Online believes that even though a woman didn’t yet make it to the White House, she explains why 2016 was a good year for gender diversity in corporate America.

Kevin Hyde of EBN notes that all politics are local and in 2016, employment law is local too

Mike Aitken recaps SHRM’s Top 10 Advocacy Accomplishments for 2016

Richard Meneghello of Fisher Phillips offers Don’t Read This: 2016 Workplace Law Year In Review

Employment law attorney Cepideh Roufougar looks at key disability leave management issues at National Law Review: Saying Goodbye to 2016 – It’s Been Quite the Year!

HR Bartender Sharlyn Lauby offers stats from LinkedIn’s annual Talent Trends Report: 2016 talent trends

Astronology looks back and looks ahead in HR End of 2016, Beginning of 2017.

The Leading Blog offers its picks for The Best Leadership Books of 2016
And as a backdrop, James Surowiecki offers The Five Biggest Business Stories of 2016 at the New Yorker and at USA Today,
Paul Davidson and Kevin McKay look at The top 10 business stories of 2016

In the HR crystal ball department, here’s a roundup of thoughts, predictions and guesses for the coming year.

And in the interesting and notable categories

We take a look at general recap stories, but be aware – we tried to ferret out quality stories, but these things are on the Internet, so proceed at your own risk!

See what was trending in Google search in 2016

Twitter’s take on things:  #ThisHappened in 2016

Facebook’s 2016 Year in Review

BBC North America technology reporter David Lee looks at what made it big on the Internet in 2016: The top memes and viral videos of 2016

Dave Barry’s offers his annual humorous and irreverent take on things:  Year in Review: 2016 — What the … ?

Oxford Dictionary names its Word of the Year 2016

The Year in Pictures, New York Times

Alan Taylor curates 2016 The Year in Photos for Atlantic magazine
January-April; May-August; September-December

Notable deaths of 2016

Continue Reading

Holiday extravaganza – from the serious to the silly

We’ve gathered a holiday roundup of the serious, the silly and the sentimental. We cover a few real-life HR scenarios along with some fictional ones, and we offer a few light-hearted videos for your amusement!

Celebrating the Holidays and Diversity in the Workplace
Susan Milligan, SHRM

It’s not advisable—and virtually impossible—to ask workers to keep their religious holiday observances completely separate from work. The key, employment lawyers and workplace experts say, is to make sure no one feels excluded or forced to participate in workplace festivities. Diversity, whether it involves religion or the gender of the partner someone brings to a workplace party, should be celebrated along with the holidays so that everyone feels welcome, experts advise.

Premium Pay for Working Holidays Is Popular; Allowing ‘Swapped’ Holidays Is Not
Dana Wilkie, SHRM

More than half of workplaces will pay employees a premium if they work on a holiday in 2017, although the vast majority won’t let workers swap holidays if they prefer to celebrate Yom Kippur, for instance, instead of Christmas, according to a new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Santa Index 2016: Santa’s salary increases by a whisker to $146,309 – The folks at analyze Santa’s salary and how it breaks down. You can see he’s had a bit of a salary bump since we last reported on the Index in 2014: The job of being Santa: pay, essential functions & more. Also in one of our prior posts – Employment Law and Santa Claus – we consider the role of Santa as an employer (hint: he is little more than a sweatshop operator) and as an employee, including the rigorous training he undergoes and the on-the-job perils he faces.

Speaking of on-the-job challenges, check out the work it takes to deliver one million Christmas trees every year.

Robots are replacing many workers. This year, they are even giving season carolers a run for their money: Jingle Bytes? Artificial Intelligence Writes a Christmas Song. Googles rather creepy Bid Dog robots are even posing a distinct challenge to Rudolf as you can see in the clip:

In other HR holiday items:

And for some fun things:

A Christmas Carol – a Supercut of about 400 versions of a Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens Christmas Carol is one of the wold’s most popular tales – everyone relates to the crotchety, stingy, mean-spirited boss and his heart-melting transformation. There are hundreds and hundreds of adaptations in film, cartoons, tv, books, ads and print versions of this classic tale. How many have you seen? Heath Waterman has seen quite a few and he has compiled a vast number of these into a 53 minute supercut.

Animals are a popular theme over the holidays

Continue Reading

HR News Roundup: Artificial Intelligence & HR, compliance matters, meditation & more

Your company’s human resources department could get less human
Steven Overly, Washington Post

Some of the questions you ask your human resources department could soon be answered by, well, non-humans.

That’s the concept behind Talla, a Boston-area start-up that has developed a chatbot to do some of the more mundane tasks that HR departments carry out on a daily basis. That includes explaining company policy, surveying employees, collecting information or training new hires.


The number of workers joining the gig economy has slowed dramatically, says study
Harriet Taylor, CNBC

Growth in the number of workers joining the gig economy has slowed and wages for these jobs have declined in the last two years, according to a new study from the JPMorgan Chase Institute.

Slowing growth is happening both at companies that let people sell or lease assets — like eBay and Airbnb — as well as ones that connect workers with part-time jobs — like Uber, Lyft or TaskRabbit — the study found. For the average worker, dwindling paychecks are the new reality.

Post no bills? Employers have to post plenty!
Stephanie Underwood, Employment & Labor Insider

This year is ending with quite a few changes in various federal workplace posters. To ensure that employers, especially federal contractors, have kept up with the required changes, here is a summary.

Targeting FMLA fraud and abuse: 10 ways to reduce subtle FMLA abuse
HR Daily Advisor

Rooting out the more subtle types of FMLA abuse takes, first of all, diligence on your part to track patterns of leave. Keep an eye out for absences that tend to be concentrated in particular departments or with certain individuals as well as those that occur disproportionately in conjunction with weekends, holidays, or paydays.

Evidence of a pattern of abuse is usually going to be circumstantial rather than medical, so you need to track such evidence over a long enough period so as to demonstrate that the suspicious absences are due to more than mere coincidence.

Women in the Workplace 2016
McKinsey & Company

Women in the Workplace 2016 is a comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America. The study is part of a long-term partnership between LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company to give companies the information they need to promote female leadership and foster gender equality in the workplace.

132 companies employing more than 4.6 million people shared their pipeline data and completed a survey of HR practices. In addition, 34,000 employees completed a survey designed to uncover their attitudes on gender, job satisfaction, ambition, and work-life issues.

Stop meditating alone – for productivity gains, it’s a team sport
Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company

A survey by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health predicts that 22% of Fortune 500 companies will use mindfulness or brain training at the workplace by the end of the year, as a way to improve employee health and productivity, decrease absenteeism, and enhance quality of life. And the survey suggests that this number could double in 2017.

Employers offering ‘insurance on insurance’
Michael O’Brien, HRE Daily

For many workers, the WSJ notes, paying for healthcare has become “such a difficult budgeting exercise that the insurance industry is marketing additional products to help.” This gap insurance, also known as supplemental or voluntary insurance, is designed to provide extra coverage for things like hospital stays, unexpected accidents or treatment for acute illnesses such as cancer or heart disease. The policies are also designed to help cover the cost of high deductibles or copays for treatment—the gap that employees face before their health insurance kicks in.

More HR news of note

Continue Reading

Inspiration of the week: Ability vs disability

This is a brief post featuring a heartwarming video that someone brought to our attention – a 3-minute promotion for the Rio Summer Paralympics 2016. The Paralympic Games are an international multi-sport event involving athletes with a range of disabilities. The next scheduled event will be winter games on 2018, scheduled to be held in South Korea.

It’s a great video because it has a lot of energy and excitement but it also has the power to make viewers change perceptions about ability vs. disability. Among its goals, the International Paralympic Committee cites athlete empowerment but also a goal of inspiring and exciting the world and touching the heart of all people for a more equitable society. Among the values the it espouses:

“Through sport Para athletes challenge stereotypes and transform attitudes, helping to increase inclusion by breaking down social barriers and discrimination towards people with an impairment.”

Inspired? If your organization would like to achieve greater diversity and best practices in disability employment, there are many opportunities. The National Organization on Disability says that “25 years after the passage of the Americans with Disability Act, only one in five Americans with disabilities holds a job.” Here are some reasources they offer:

Leading Employment Practice for resources, surveys and research

503 Compliance Guidelines

Disability Employment Tracker

Also see The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

Continue Reading

December Health & Wellness Focus

With a variety of holidays this month, it’s a hectic season so a good health & wellness focus is stress reduction. One important way to do that is to stick to good eating, sleeping and fitness regimes. For help, see our Workplace Wellness Blog posts:

December is also National Handwashing Awareness Month. Keeping hands clean is one of the easiest and best things we can do to keep from getting sick and avoid spreading germs to others. The CDC says “Handwashing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine — it involves five simple and effective steps (Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry) you can take to reduce the spread of diarrheal and respiratory illness so you can stay healthy.”  Promotional tools include fact sheets, posters, video, social media messages.



Flu season is approaching: Are you ready?  December 4-10 is National Influenza Vaccine Week. Encourage your employees to get their flu shots! The CDC has many resources you can use to get the word out. We also have many resources at

Other health observances for the month of December, as suggested by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

AIDS Awareness:  December 1 is World AIDS Day and the CDC offers a toolkit of resources — but we’d suggest that the World AIDS Day could be a springboard to a month-long focus. According to the World Health Organization, HIV/AIDS continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 34 million lives so far. Prevention and testing are still critical, as is a focus on educating younger generations who may be less knowledgeable about risks.   Get more tools, facts and resources from the CDC’s HIV/AIDS resource center.

Disability Awareness:  December 3 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities . The theme for 2015 is: Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want

Family Matters: Safe Toys:  December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month. With holiday gift giving a huge focus this month, an important health and wellness message for families should be the importance of safe toys and gifts. Here are some tips and resources to help:

Continue Reading