More businesses are now looking into hiring workers with a criminal past than ever before, particularly if they are offered with a crime and safety insurance, a new study revealed. Typically, employers do not interview or hire workers with criminal records as often as they do workers who might be equally abled but without a troubled past.
Statistics show that the unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated people in the US, for example, was 27% in 2008 – greater than the unemployment rate for the general population.
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'A promising approach'
In the report published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, researchers evaluated a leading online labour platform used by thousands of businesses to employ workers for short-term jobs.
Companies use this platform to connect with workers for a wide range of entry-level jobs in various sectors such as hospitality, transportation, general labour, administrative, and customer-facing jobs. These sectors, however, are purportedly averse to hiring workers with a criminal background.
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But businesses that use the online resource do not get to decide whether to work with certain workers over others. Rather, the platform extends the job offer to the worker who meets the minimum job requirements. The worker can then accept or reject the offer on a first-come, first-served basis.
Using a field study, the researchers discovered:
- 39% of businesses that use the platform found it acceptable to hire people with a criminal background
- 45% believed there were no issues to hiring said workers for jobs that do not require customer interaction
- 51% without high-value inventory were willing to hire said employees
Meanwhile, when employers found it difficult to fill certain positions, the demand for workers with a criminal record increases to 68%. This increased by 10 percentage points when the companies were offered with the following options:
- Crime and safety insurance
- The power to screen recent criminal records
- The opportunity to conduct a performance review
The study’s lead author Zoë Cullen said that the results of the study is “a promising approach” to expanding the labour supply in the US, and that it simultaneously addresses a pressing social challenge.