One of the biggest challenges facing business owners in our region is finding staff. There’s a massive pool of untapped talent that small businesses can benefit from using fair chance, or second chance, hiring.

Making the decision to be a fair-chance employer to someone with a criminal record, or “justice-involved individuals”, is a significant step which requires careful reflection and understanding to ensure that your company has a solid understanding of the impact this decision will have. To ensure that you have all the facts before you begin, we’ve outlined some important legal and ethical implications that must be considered and properly implemented to maximize the outcomes for both employer and those that you may hire.


SHOULD I employ justice involved?

  • Will my company’s culture support the employment goals of this individual?
  • Can I accommodate his/her constraints, such as parole check-ins, monitoring, etc.?
  • Have I removed questions regarding felony convictions from my company’s employment application?

HOW can I mitigate concerns about loss?

  • Contact applicant references, thoroughly review work histories, and, if applicable, conduct background checks.
  • Employee applies for Federal Bonding Program. You and your business can be insured for free by the federal government for up to $25,000 for any loss of money or property.

WHERE do I find candidates?

WHAT incentives are available?

  • WORK OPPORTUNITY TAX CREDIT (WOTC).  Your business can earn the WOTC  federal tax credit when you hire a new employee with a previous felony conviction. The maximum tax credit for each new hire is $2,400. To be eligible for the full credit, the employee must work at least 400 hours during the tax year. You may be eligible for a partial credit for eligible employees who work at least 120 hours.

HOW does this benefit my business?

  • Dedicated and loyal employees
  • Increased talent pool
  • Community service

HOW does this support my community?

  • Employment reduces recidivism, thus reducing local and state costs
  • Improves local economy
  • Creates strong, able, contributing citizens and families

Download the Toolkit: Fair Chance Hiring Toolkit for Business