With a stroke of a pen, the Philadelphia's City Council City Council and Mayor's Office of Philadelphia has positioned itself at the forefront of the criminal justice reform movement as far as job applications are concerned. Through changes made to Chapter 9-3500 of the Philadelphia Code (PDF warning), the City of Philadelphia changed when and to what degree an employer can consider a person's criminal history. Furthermore, it simply abolishes the ability to rely on criminal charges that did not result in a conviction.
Originally signed in 2012, the Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards law did not allow employers to ask about convictions on a job application form. Mayor Michael Nutter's signature on December 15 made it so that the only time an applicant's criminal history can be considered is after a conditional offer of employment is made. Furthermore, if the employer does run a background check, it can only go back a total of seven years.
In scenarios where an applicant has a criminal record that is discovered after the offer has been made, the statute outlines what factors an employer should consider. They include the nature of the crime, the amount of time that has passed since the completion of the case, and whether the charges are related to the work required. If an applicant's offer is rescinded, the employer must provide the employee with a written rejection along with a copy of the criminal record that was used to make that decision.
At the same time, Mayor Nutter also set new guidelines to be used by the city itself through an executive order. Any city jobs that have restrictions based on a record have to be listed so applicants are aware of which ones have barriers and which don't. Furthermore, any applicants rejected on the basis of a criminal record only will have the opportunity to respond to the results of a background check. These changes will impact Philadelphia employers in the private sector, especially those that are currently working on public sector contracts or looking to begin doing such work.