Business group calls on Congress to ease restrictions on hiring ex-offenders

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Dive brief:

  • Bank Policy Institute (BPI) wants Congress to ease restrictions on hiring people with criminal backgrounds, business banking group told Bloomberg on Friday.
  • The group, which represents some of the largest financial institutions in the United States, such as JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, wants Congress to clarify who and what jobs are covered by Article 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act. Individuals with a criminal record involving dishonesty, breach of trust, or money laundering must receive approval from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) to work at a legally insured depository institution established in 1829.
  • The group is also proposing to exclude those who have committed crimes and to shorten the processing times for section 19 applications, Bloomberg reported.

Dive overview:

Congress has made several adjustments to the Federal Deposit Insurance Act since its inception, including easing restrictions on those who committed minor offenses or those convicted before the age of 21, but banking advocates said more needs to be done.

“There are only limits that a regulator can go without going beyond the limits of its authority under the law,” Dafina Stewart, senior vice president and associate general counsel, BPI told Bloomberg. “We are asking Congress to review the statute as there are still adjustments to be made.”

A bipartisan bill to ease restrictions on ex-offenders seeking banking jobs was introduced last year by Sens. Thom Tillis, R-NC, and Joe Manchin, D-WV.

Under the Fair hiring law in banks, a bank would not need the prior written consent of the FDIC to hire someone convicted of a criminal offense under the following conditions:

  • the person has served a seven-year waiting period.
  • the individual committed the offense when he was under 21 years of age.
  • the conviction has been pardoned, sealed or struck out.

Some banks, like JPMorgan Chase, have internal policies in place to help ex-offenders get jobs at the bank.

The country’s largest bank announced in 2018 that it had removed all criminal history questions from job applications and said it only performed a background check after an offer. In 2019, he created a policy center reduce barriers to re-employment for people with a criminal past.

JPMorgan Chase said about 10% of its new hires in the United States in 2020 – more than 2,100 people – had arrest records, a figure that has held steady since about 2018.

CEO Jamie Dimon argued that companies’ reluctance to hire people with criminal backgrounds represents a missed opportunity for the economy as a whole. The United States loses between $ 78 billion and $ 87 billion in annual gross domestic product by excluding people with criminal records from entering the workforce, according to a 2019 JPMorgan study.

“There is a really huge demand for talent in every industry and in every job market, and it’s a set of talented individuals who can and should be able to contribute to this job market,” Michelle Kuranty, executive director of talent recruitment at JPMorgan, says Bloomberg.


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