To the Editor: As someone who has spent her career in human resources, I am excited that the N.H. Legislature is moving forward with fair-chance hiring legislation. Senate Bill 100 would make a minor change that could make a huge difference. It would remove the question about whether a job applicant has a criminal record from the application form and instead have the question asked during an interview.
An employer learns much more from a question asked in-person than it does from just a checked box.
A checked box tells an HR person nothing about someone’s record. It does not distinguish the applicant who got busted for pot in college from the applicant convicted of money laundering or sexual assault. It is much more informative for an HR person to hear about someone’s record in person, including how long ago an offense was committed and what the person has done since to rehabilitate themselves.
There are many issues about which employers are rightfully forbidden from asking.
This includes asking if a woman is pregnant or about any disability. With SB 100, there is no such prohibition, but merely a deferral of a question from the application to the interview. Employers can still ask about an applicant’s criminal record and can still decline to hire the person because of a criminal record.
This bill simply invites a conversation. Given the importance of employment in successful re-entry after incarceration and for successful recovery from addition, SB100 could not be more timely for New Hampshire.