Coming Soon for San Francisco? Watch for New Background Check Rules

Feb 13 2014 - Hiring - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

On February 11, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a new ordinance that would “ban the box” on employment applications; eliminating the commonly used check box on employment applications that asks for criminal history. If signed by the mayor, 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. If signed, the ordinance would be operative 180 days after enactment by the mayor.

Of course, the ordinance comes with a new_poster_b1 and notice requirement. Surprise, surprise …

HRWatchdog will keep you up to date regarding the mayor’s action on this ordinance and any effective date. If signed, more coverage will also be found on HRCalifornia.

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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