Update on New Background Check Rules for San Francisco Employers

Feb 26 2014 - Hiring, Workplace Policies - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

UPDATE: San Francisco’s mayor signed the new ordinance that limits the use of criminal history information by San Francisco employers.

The ordinance will become effective on August 13, 2014.

Employers covered by the new ordinance will need to review job applications and other hiring and employment documentation. A new poster will also be required. Look for more information on HRCalifornia as the notices and other information becomes available.

On February 11, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the ordinance that would “ban the box” on employment applications; eliminating the commonly used check box on employment applications that asks for criminal history. The ordinance will impose a number of new restrictions on employers’ use of criminal history information in the hiring process.

According to the Legislative Digest, the new ordinance (Ordinance No. 131192) “amends the Police Code to require employers and housing providers to limit the use of criminal history information and follow certain procedures and restrictions when inquiring about using conviction history information to make decisions about employment and tenancy in San Francisco.”

The prohibition on inquiring into criminal history applies to both the employment application and the first live interview (including in person, telephone, videoconference or use of other technology).

The ordinance would apply to employers with 20 or more employees regardless of location and would apply only to situations where the employment or prospective employment of the individual is located in whole or in substantial part in San Francisco.

On a related note, legislation enacted this year (AB 218) and in effect on July 1, 2014, prohibits public-sector employers from asking an applicant to disclose information regarding a criminal conviction until after the agency has determined the applicant meets minimum employment qualifications. The law does create specific exceptions – such as where a criminal history background check is otherwise required by law for the position.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Counsel/Content

CalChamber members can learn more about background checks and employment from the HR Library’s Obtaining Criminal History page. Not a member? Learn more about what HRCalifornia can do for you.

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