Getting a job is hard enough without adding the extra stigma of a criminal conviction. Even if you have a perfectly legitimate excuse for your run in with the law, you might be unfairly judged during the interview process, or worse, you might not even get a call for the interview in the first place.
Thankfully, it has become a little easier to clear some pre-interview hurdles due to the state’s “Best Candidate for the Job Act.”
The act, which was signed into law just last year, prevents criminal background checks until after an applicant has been deemed qualified for the job.
“Everyone deserves a second chance when it comes to getting a job,” said former Gov. Pat Quinn prior to signing the law. “This law will help ensure that people across Illinois get a fair shot to reach their full potential through their skills and qualifications, rather than past history. It will also help reduce recidivism, fight poverty and prevent violence in our communities by putting more people back to work.”
Background Check Law
House Bill 5701 prevents employers or employment agencies from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until the applicant has been deemed qualified for a job and selected for an interview. That said, the new law doesn’t apply to all jobs or employers. If the job requires that a person does not have a criminal background, companies can research applicants before selecting that person for an interview.
Although the law was signed last year, it didn’t become effective until January 1, 2015.
State Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, who sponsored the bill, said it will give reformed individuals a fair chance to at least get their foot in the door and explain a past conviction.
“By allowing applicants to undergo the interview process without being judged as unfit for employment because of their background, we will help individuals get back to work, pursue a higher education and become the responsible residents that our state thrives on. Everyone should have the opportunity to be considered for employment. This legislation protects people with criminal records from discrimination, gives deserving people a second chance and allows them to be evaluated based on their suitability for a position.” Mayfield said. “I believe this legislation will improve the lives of many residents and give them the opportunities they were previously unable to strive for.”
Related source: Rockford Advocate