Recently, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, signed Senate Bill 731 (SB 731) into law. This success follows a nationwide movement to reduce the impact of criminal records on an individual’s prospects for employment and housing. This legislation seals a wide range of felony convictions for crimes committed on or after January 1, 2005. However, the seal applies only if the individual completes the terms of their sentence and avoids another felony conviction for the following four years.
This new legislation is in addition to California’s existing Fair Chance Act, a ban-the-box type law passed in many states and localities across the country. Like most ban-the-box laws, this law forbids employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until after issuing a conditional offer of employment.
With SB 731 in place, employers may expect further limitations when using conviction records for making employment decisions starting July 1, 2023. Such regulations include how this bill will automatically seal the records of many convictions. Except for certain employers such as schools, law enforcement, and courts, this change means records will become unavailable when hiring decisions occur.
Some employers may question whether this affects the value of acquiring a background check. However, it is necessary to remember that SB 731 only applies to certain convictions. Therefore, employers may still access other information regarding the criminal history of applicants and employees, including any dangers it may present.
For example, a variety of felony convictions not sealed under SB 731 include severe and violent offenses. Furthermore, registered sex offenders will not see their information sealed, either. Another detail employers should know is that automatic sealing happens after the individual goes four years without committing another felony. During that time, they are at a higher risk of reoffending. In addition to this prerequisite, they must complete the terms of their service.
These exceptions mean that employers will still be capable of identifying potential risks to employees, customers, and property in the workplace despite the limitations imposed by SB 731. However, this bill does emphasize the importance of adequate background checks, which is a crucial step in the hiring process.
Nevertheless, it is crucial to work with a background check provider that understands this and other laws regarding background checks and the limitations they create. The right provider will help prevent violations and potential liabilities while enabling employers to make educated employment decisions.
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