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OPM Finalizes Federal Agency Ban-the-Box Rule

December 1, 2016 – The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published Final Rule (FR Doc. 2016-28782) that will prohibit federal agencies from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history prior to a conditional offer of employment.

The rule, proposed in May 2016, was finalized to advance the goals of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council and to help federal agencies comply with President Obama’s Memorandum of April 29, 2016, “Promoting Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Formerly Incarcerated Individuals.”  The President’s Memorandum included several directives to the council, including developing a plan to reduce recidivism and assist individuals who return from prison or jail to become productive citizens, evaluating an applicant’s criminal record with the aim of evaluating each individual’s character and conduct, and “identify and address unwarranted barriers to successful reentry.”

Under the rule, a conditional offer of employment must be extended before a federal agency may inquire about the person’s criminal history or conduct a criminal background check.

The final rule will become effective on January 3, 2017, but agencies will be granted additional time to achieve compliance through March 31, 2017.

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