Federal Contractors Must Ban the Box


The Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019 (which was part of the National Defense Authorization Act) took effect on December 20, 2021 and requires agencies to include a clause in federal contracts that prohibits contractors from requesting, either verbally or in writing, the criminal history of an applicant for work under a federal contract until after a conditional offer of employment has been made. (The “box” refers to the box on many employment applications, which must be checked if the applicant has a criminal record).

There are exceptions where a criminal background check prior to the offer is required by law, the position is related to law enforcement or national security duties, or the position has access to classified information. Regulations implementing this already-effective requirement are to be issued in January 2022.

Notably, federal contractors, like other employers, may also be governed by the steadily increasing number of state or local ban-the-box laws.