The Pennsylvania Governor recently signed Senate Bill 637, with an effective date of December 28, 2020, removing criminal record restrictions in job licensing in the state. Under the new law, boards and commissions will no longer be permitted to use an applicant’s criminal history to deny that person a license.  They may also not consider juvenile convictions or convictions expunged under the Clean Slate law. The new law contains some exclusions, namely: (1) if the applicant’s criminal history is directly related to the occupation in which they are seeking licensure and (2) if the applicant was convicted of a sexual offense, he or she cannot practice as a health care practitioner.

Before denying a license, the boards must now individually consider applications based on the following: the nature of the offense, the amount of time since the conviction, and other factors including the applicant’s personal progress and training. The law also requires boards to create a public list of criminal offenses that may prevent licensure and allows applicants to get a preliminary decision if their conviction is likely to disqualify them. However, they may still choose to apply and present evidence to support licensure under those circumstances. Specific temporary licenses in barbering and cosmetology are also created for applicants who had been trained in a correctional facility. Under this provision, licensees can work one to two years to demonstrate competency and get full licensure.

Going forward, the Department of State, along with the licensing boards, will develop a guide to help applicants with criminal convictions apply for licenses in the state.

This is another initiative that, while commendable in its efforts to get more people working, also must be balanced with the legitimate concerns of employers and customers. In performing background screenings, Hire Image understands this balance. If you have any questions or concerns about this new law or any other laws that affect your jurisdiction, please contact us to speak with a representative.

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