Cropped shot of a man and woman completing paperwork together at a deskEffective Dec. 20, 2021, the federal Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act will prohibit federal contractors from inquiring-either directly or through a background screening process-into an applicant’s criminal background until after the contractor extends a conditional job offer to the applicant. The law will only impact those applicants seeking employment in positions related to “work under” the federal contract.

Furthermore, the law will not prohibit pre-offer criminal background inquiries related to contracts where criminal background checks are otherwise required by law, where the contract requires an individual hired to work under the contract to access classified information or to have sensitive law enforcement or national security duties or in connection with other positions that will be identified in regulations to be issued  by the federal Office of Personnel Management no later than April 20, 2021.

Federal contractors will want to confirm that their policies, procedures, applications and forms all comply with this new law, which will be in addition to any applicable state or local law that prohibits criminal background inquiries at any point in the job application process.