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July 10, 2018
October 8, 2018

Released and Back to Work?

Sheila Grosdidier
SCP
“We have an employee who went to jail and I told him that he would have a job when he was released. Six months later, here he is wanting to have his job back. What should I do?”

The practice owner speaking to me on the phone sounded a bit apologetic about making this decision. Since it was known by the team that the prior employee was going to be returning to work, concerns and comments began to float back to the manager. “The team is not happy about Adam returning to the practice. While he was a good worker who got along with other employees and clients for the two years he was at the practice, right now all I keep hearing is that I have made a mistake and he shouldn’t be allowed to come back to work. What am I going to do? I told Adam it was okay and to return to work on Monday.”

Return to work or not? It’s a big decision. Consider these points…

  1. The employer may be eligible to receive a Work Opportunity Tax Credit for hiring someone who has completed a prison sentence.
  2. It’s difficult to find a job after incarceration. Providing a secure job often will have high value to the individual and make them a motivated employee.
  3. In helping this individual, it helps the community around you. Employed individuals are less likely to have repeat offenses.
  4. While the impulse may be to worry about theft, your business should already have checks and balances in place. A clinic recently shared with me that, having hired someone with previous jail time, that person shared with them an inventory issues they had observed. The way inventory was stored and accessed allowed employees to remove inventory from the building unseen. While investigating the situation, it was discovered that a different employee had been stealing inventory and may never have been suspected without the information shared by the previously jailed team member.
  5. In 2016, the federal government introduced the Fair Chance Pledge that initiated an agreement for employers to give the 70 million individuals who have completed their prison sentence a chance to become part of the employed workforce of the US. The focus is on a commitment to Fair Chance Hiring practices and taking action in the local community.
  6. Many states have enacted a Ban the Box Law (check here for your state) (Alternative Site). This law disallows employers asking a job candidate early in the interview process about prior criminal convictions. While highly controversial, the law has opened up discussions about hiring processes and determining what is fair and equitable for all concerned.

Wondering what happened to Adam? Well, his employer received a call from him that his parole officer had determined that Adam shouldn’t work in a veterinary practice because of his prior drug offense.

Would you hire someone with a criminal record? Have you hired someone?

Sheila Grosdidier, SCP teaches many interesting and necessary hiring tips and techniques at VMC's H.R. Boot Camp - a two-day seminar in human resources.

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