Hiring Ex-Felons: Does ‘Felon Friendly’ Pay?

An article published this week by Human Resource Executive Online asks the question Does ‘Felon Friendly’ Pay?:

Many employers have hopped on the ban-the-box bandwagon in recent years, whether to comply with laws, stay ahead of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or simply to express an open-minded hiring philosophy. It’s not the same thing, however, as taking active steps to hire more people with felony convictions.

For example, at Total Wine and More, a 5,000-employee national beverage chain, job turnover for several job categories was significantly lower for employees with a criminal record than those without, according to the company. For cashiers, the rate was 14 percent lower.

In analyzing its data, the retailer determined that the lower turnover rates applied to all categories of crimes — “not only for individuals with low-level drug or alcohol-related convictions, but also for individuals with more serious convictions.”

Further, the self-described “key finding” in a study of customer-service employees by a trio of Northwestern University professors found that “employees with a criminal record perform as well or better than those without a record in some jobs.” (The research, titled Criminal Background and Job Performance, was posted on the SSRN.com website in May.)

Given the prevalence of Americans with criminal records, it isn’t hard to find them in the labor pool. Consider that the Brennan Center for Justice estimates that 70 million Americans have a criminal record, including 20 million with felony convictions. Or, as the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports, 95 percent of prisoners in state prisons will be released at some point.

Continue Reading at HRE Online:
http://www.hreonline.com/HRE/view/story.jhtml?id=534363215

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit & Hiring Ex-Felons

The Department of Labor reports that each year more than 700,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons. Another 9 million cycle through local jails. When reentry fails, the social and economic costs are high — more crime, more victims, more family distress, and more pressure on already-strained state and municipal budgets.

To meet the criteria for the Ex-Felon target group, the individual new hire:

  • Has been convicted of a felony; AND
  • Has a hiring date less than 1 year after the conviction OR release from prison.

For each new ex‐felon hired, the credit is 25% of qualified first‐year wages for those employed at least 120 hours, or $1,500; and 40% for those employed 400 hours or more, or $2,400.

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