Effective January 1, 2015, most Illinois employment agencies and private employers will be prohibited from asking about applicants’ criminal background until the applicant reaches the interview stage of the hiring process, or, if there is no interview, until the applicant has been given a conditional offer of employment. The Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act (House Bill 5701) provides very limited exceptions. For most Illinois employers, the Act will require changes to the application process.
The Illinois Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act is the latest in a surge of “Ban the Box” legislation around the country. Illinois becomes the 5th state to enact such “Ban the Box” legislation that covers private employers, joining Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island. Seven cities (Baltimore, Buffalo, Newark, Philadelphia, Rochester, Seattle, San Francisco) also have similar provisions.
Illinois employers and employment agencies should review application materials to remove questions about criminal history by the end of the year.