Employers That Hire Ex-Offenders

Jodee Redmond
Having a record isn't necessarily a barrier to employment.

Looking for work after being released from prison may seem like a daunting task, but employers that hire ex-offenders do exist. Getting a former convict back in the work force quickly benefits that individual and Society as a whole.

Barriers To Ex-Offenders Finding Work After Release

Having a criminal record can create a barrier to being hired. An employer might look at this type of background and think the person is not trustworthy. The company may have concerns that by hiring this applicant, it is exposing itself to problems with stealing, poor customer relations skills, or an inability to behave according to rules set out by the employer.

Since an employer can be held legally responsible for the actions of its employees, a business may be reluctant to have someone on staff who has been previously convicted of an offense. After being convicted of a felony, a person will be barred from getting hired for certain types of work. Working with children is one of these restrictions.

Being convicted of a violent offense means that an offender will have a more difficult time getting hired, since many people believe that past behavior indicates how a person will act in the future.

Benefits of Getting Ex-Offenders into Paid Employment

  • The person who has served his or her sentence needs support to get integrated back into a 'normal' life and finding legitimate, paying work can help.
  • An ex-offender who is able to support him or herself legally is less likely to commit crimes to get money.
  • Employers can benefit from incentive programs offered by the federal government when they hire someone with a criminal record.

Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit

The Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) provides a tax credit for employers that hire ex-offenders, as well as other people considered disadvantaged. All employers in the United States are eligible to participate in the program.

The incentive for employers comes as a tax credit of up to 40 percent of the first $6,000.00 paid to the new employee during the first year of employment. This works out to $2,400.

Minimum Number of Hours Required

WOTC is available to employers who hire full-time and summer workers. To qualify, full-timers must have worked at least 400 hours or 180 days. Summer help must have worked a minimum of 20 days or 120 hours. Partial credits are available for employees who have worked at least 120 hours.

Employers That Hire Ex-Offenders: Most Likely Employ to Workers With a Record

An ex-offender looking for work is most likely to get hired by the employers in these sectors:

  • Transportation
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing

These types of employers typically hire workers for positions that don't require a lot of personal contact with customers. They also likely to hire large numbers of employees each year. Ex-offenders who lack experience or job skills can often get work with one of these types of employers, since they may be willing to train new workers.

Service industries are the least likely to be interested in hiring a person with a criminal record, possibly due to concerns about the ex-offender's ability to interact in a positive way with customers.

Getting Hired as an Ex-Offender

If you have a record and are looking for work, here are some tips to make you more attractive to employers that hire ex-offenders:

  • If you are asked about a prior record on an application form or during an interview, disclose what you were convicted for. An employer is legally barred from discriminating against someone with a criminal record for a minor offense. This legal protection does not extend to someone convicted of murder, sexual assault, or other violent offenses.
  • Don't lie about your past. The employer may hire you anyway, and you can be fired for lying during the hiring process if you are found out after the fact.
  • Look into getting a pardon for your offense. After a certain amount of time has passed, if you get a pardon, you will be able to have your record wiped clean and you are not under any legal obligation to reveal an offense for which you have been pardoned.

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Employers That Hire Ex-Offenders