Kentucky Law Expands Potential Job Opportunities for Individuals with Criminal Backgrounds

Kentucky’s "Reentry" law goes into effect in July, 2021 and will permit employers to hire certified applicants with criminal convictions.

On April 5, HB 497 was signed by Governor Andy Beshear after being unanimously passed by the Kentucky Legislature. This law creates a certificate program by which employers are relieved from civil liability for hiring ex-offenders who are trained for specific positions and maintain the proper certification. The bill's stated intent is to expand job opportunities for the formerly incarcerated as a means of promoting rehabilitation and reintegration.

Upon release from incarceration, HB 497 requires the Department of Corrections (DOC) to supply individuals with specific documents and paperwork, which includes the prisoner's criminal history in Kentucky, institutional history documentation and any other information the department may consider relevant. Institutional history documentation includes: record of disciplinary violations, proof of the prisoner's successful completion of department approved programing, proof of the prisoner's education, work records prior to incarceration and institutional work records.

In addition to the above documents, a "certificate of employability" can be issued by the department to eligible individuals. Eligible individuals must complete certain vocational and/or educational requirements and pass specific skills assessment tests as administered by the DOC. Additionally, in order to be eligible, a prisoner must receive no major disciplinary violations the year before release. The certificate excludes certain populations, such as sex offenders.

Applicants can present the certificate as part of the hiring process and employers can verify authenticity by contacting the DOC; however, Kentucky employers are not required to accept an applicant with a criminal record. In the event an employer accepts the certificate and ultimately hires the applicant, the law provides employers with legal protection from negligent-hiring lawsuits.

For clients interested in Business Information Group providing support in confirming the validity of these certificates, please contact your sales executive or account manager.

Posted: April 19, 2021

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