California's Fair Chance Hiring Law


Did you know that California is now a fair chance hiring state? What does that mean for your business? Fair chance hiring means that people with criminal background are given a fair chance at applying for jobs without their criminal background automatically disqualifying them.

What You Need to Know about the Law

The Fair Chance Act (AB 1008) went into effect on January 1, 2018, and does the following:

  • California employers with more than five employees can no longer ask about conviction history before making a conditional job offer.

  • Job applications cannot include a question about criminal convictions.

  • Employers can ask about conviction history or run a criminal background check after a conditional offer has been made.

  • If a background check turns up convictions, the employer must consider the nature and gravity of the crime(s), how they relate to the job and how much time has passed since conviction. If an employer decides to rescind the offer, they must tell the applicant in writing, provide a copy of the conviction history used to make the decision and allow the applicant five days to respond. The employer must then review the response and issue a final decision via writing.

  • Employers cannot make employment decisions based on arrests that were not followed by conviction; participation in pretrial or post-trial diversion programs; or convictions that have been sealed, dismissed, expunged or statutorily eradicated.

  • There are some exceptions to this law, including certain positions at healthcare facilities, farm labor contractors and positions with criminal justice agencies. There are also exceptions where an employer is required by another law to conduct a background check and restrict employment due to criminal history.

Why Support Fair Chance Hiring?

Failure to follow this law may result in complaints to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Check your job application and review your hiring process to make sure you are complying with this law.

Aside from the legal requirement, being a fair-chance-hiring employer is good for business. Nearly one-third of adults in the US have some kind of criminal record. Many of these people are ready to work and know the value of landing a good job. A job can be a big part of successful reentry and living a healthy and productive life. Not only does a job provide income to pay basic expenses, it also provides people with a sense of purpose. These are things that reduce recidivism and keep people from going back to jail or prison. 

Employers who hire the formerly incarcerated may qualify for a tax credit under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) as well as a free federal bonding program. To learn more, visit our page on WOTC and federal bonding.

Do you want more information on fair chance hiring, or are you an employer who has questions about hiring a formerly incarcerated person? We are here to help. Email us or fill out the contact form on our Get Involved page, and we will get in touch with you to answer your questions. We also have the information in this blog post available as a flyer that we can send to you.

November Fair Chance Hiring Summit


When: Friday, November 17, 8:45-11 a.m.
Where: The Orange County One-Stop Center, 17891 Cartwright Rd. #200, Irvine, CA 92614
Cost: $25 per person, free for veterans and the formerly incarcerated

We are pleased to announce that we will be holding our second Fair Chance Hiring Summit on Friday, November 17. The Orange County One-Stop Center in Irvine will once again be hosting our summit at their office. The November summit will focus on the employment challenges faced by formerly incarcerated veterans and discuss ways that employers can support them in achieving success.

This event is designed for HR professionals, hiring managers and business owners. Attendees will leave with tips on implementing fair chance hiring policies in their workplace and learn about ways to engage with local service providers to provide employment to and support formerly incarcerated veterans in Orange County. A job can do a lot to help a formerly incarcerated veteran rebuild their lives, so it is important that employers do their part to help make this a reality.

Our speakers will include Cory Vigil from the VetNet program at Working Wardrobes; Frank Fletcher, the Local Veterans Employment Representative at America's Job Center of California at the Santa Ana W/O/R/K Center; Raj Talwar, a supervisor in the Anaheim Parole Office; Stephanie Hammerwold of Pacific Reentry Career Services; and Edward Clarke, the founder of Need4Bridges. We are working on adding additional speakers to our lineup.

This event would not be possible without the support of our friends at the Orange County Re-Entry Partnership (OCREP), Working Wardrobes, Need4Bridges and the Orange County One-Stop Center.

Fair Chance Hiring Summits

UPDATE: Our first Fair Chance Hiring Summit is scheduled for June 7, 2017 at the One-Stop Center in Irvine, CA. For more information and to register for this free event, please see our summit page.

There are many myths about hiring those with a criminal record, and this creates significant barriers for job seekers. At Pacific Reentry Career Services, one of our goals is to help break down these myths and to support employers in hiring the formerly incarcerated. Later this year we hope to start the conversation with employers by launching our Fair Chance Hiring Summits.

What is a Fair Chance Hiring Summit?

We have attended a number of reentry events and meetings since making the decision to found Pacific Reentry Career Services. One thing we noticed is that it is a challenge to get employers to the table when discussing the hiring of formerly incarcerated individuals. Employers are an important part of the community and a key part of helping people rebuild their lives following release from jail or prison, so it is important that we include them in the conversation.

The Fair Chance Hiring Summits are designed to provide a forum for employers to learn the advantages, challenges and rewards of hiring the formerly incarcerated. There will be plenty of time for questions and brainstorming, and attendees will also take away information on programs like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Federal Bonding and community resources. Attendees will leave with specific actions they can take to implement fair chance hiring practices in their workplaces.

Employers will also have the chance to talk to service providers who work with the reentry community, employers who have had success with fair chance hiring and members of the reentry community.

Who Should Attend?

The summits are ideal for business owners, HR professionals and those that oversee hiring for their company. We also welcome employers who have had success hiring the formerly incarcerated, so they can share their experiences with other employers. This is also a good event for formerly incarcerated people who have an employment success story and advice they want to share with employers.

How Can Employers Get Involved?

The first Fair Chance Hiring Summit will be later this year in Orange County. Stay tuned to our blog for information on date, time and location. If you are interested in participating in or hosting an upcoming summit, please use our contact form to get in touch with us.

Can Service Providers Participate?

Yes, service providers are welcome to attend. This includes organizations that work with the reentry population on securing employment and those who work in parole and probation. One of our goals is to foster connections between those working with formerly incarcerated job seekers with employers.

Are Job Seekers Welcome to Attend?

This is not a hiring event, so it would not be ideal for job seekers to attend. We will be planning hiring events in the future that will bring fair chance employers and job seekers together, so we encourage you to stay tuned to our blog for more information about upcoming events.

Remember to check our blog regularly and sign up for our newsletter for updates on Fair Chance Hiring Summits and other events.

Reentry Employment Meeting in Irvine, Sept. 13

This month's Orange County Reentry Partnership general meeting will focus on the benefits of hiring the formerly incarcerated. This is an excellent opportunity for employers, service providers and job seekers to learn more about this important topic.

The meeting will include a panel discussion that covers best practices in using criminal backgrounds during the hiring process, special considerations when hiring the formerly incarcerated, success stories and more.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 13 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Working Wardrobes, which is located at 1851 Kettering St. in Irvine.  See you there!