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5 things employers should know about Austin’s ‘ban the box’ hiring ordinance

Though the city of Austin adopted its fair chance hiring ordinance related to hiring employees who may have a criminal history, also known as "ban the box," in March, some employers are no doubt still grappling with how to handle it.

The city has indicated that the purpose of the new law is to reduce recidivism among individuals with criminal histories and increase re-integration of qualified applicants with such histories back into the workforce. These five tips may help employers comply with the new law:

  • Covered employers: Determine if you are an employer covered by the law. All private employers that employ 15 or more employees whose primary work location is in the city of Austin for 20 or more weeks in the current or preceding calendar year are covered by the law. The term "employer" includes an agency working on behalf of an employer. Note that there are specific provisions in the law relating to staffing agencies. Those agencies should review the law for its application to their businesses.
  • Prohibited conduct: Identify what type of conduct is prohibited. Prohibited conduct applies to an initial job applicant as well as an applicant for a promotion. An employer may not include questions about criminal history on their job applications and may not publish information about a job that states or implies that a person’s criminal history automatically disqualifies the person from consideration for a job.

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