The NRF says their survey shows that criminal history is important to employers when screening employees -- adding this to its list of reasons for opposing the “ban the box” movement.
Nearly all retailers use background checks to vet potential employees, according to the results of a National Retail Federation survey .
“As retailers across the country begin to hire hundreds of thousands of holiday employees, the National Retail Federation today released a survey that illustrates the importance of employee background screenings in keeping customers safe,” read an accompanying press release published on Tuesday.
Responses from the survey, which was conducted in July, came from 96 executives from various retailers and showed that 97 percent of respondents used background screening sometime during the application process.
“Pre-employment screenings are one of the tools retailers use as a first line of defense, especially during the holiday season when companies may have hundreds--if not thousands--of applications to sift through,” NRF senior asset protection advisor Joe LaRocca said.
Most of the background checks (60 percent) examine records available from the last five to seven years. These records often include credit history, criminal records, motor vehicle records, and education records.
The survey was released in part to show the importance of background checks to employers and to raise awareness of new guidelines being considered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that would prevent businesses from asking potential employees about their criminal history during the application process.
Supporters of eliminating initial questions about criminal history, also called “banning the box,” because of the box on application forms that ask if a person has ever been convicted of a crime, say removing the question would allow a person a fair chance at proving that they are the best person for the job.
LaRocca says the question is a necessary part of keeping customers safe. “A criminal history is not a scarlet letter for retail employment--in fact, retailers are able to overlook certain convictions based on position--but businesses need to understand who they are hiring right off the bat,” he said.
“A convicted burglar shouldn’t be delivering pizzas to people’s homes and a person with multiple DUI convictions is not who you would want driving thousands of miles in a company vehicle. Understanding a potential employee’s prior work experience, education, customer service skills and criminal history helps retailers make intelligent hiring decisions for the ambassadors of their company brand and the safety of their customers.”
The survey didn’t include data for how many of the companies had rejected potential employees because of information found during a background check.
Cleveland on Monday became the most recent city on a growing list of areas that have chosen to “ban the box.”
“By removing this question, applicants can be sure they will not be automatically excluded from consideration for a job because of their past mistakes,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in a press release .
The EEOC could issue a decision as early as this month.
photo by Senator Mark Warner /flickr