Colorado’s governor signed the Chance to Compete Act into law last year. It first took effect on September 1st. Also referred to as “ban the box,” the Chance to Compete Act prohibits employers from requiring job candidates to disclose a criminal history upon the initial application. 

As an employer, you may not be sure how the new law applies to you and what you need to do to comply. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment breaks down what you need to know. 

What does the new law require of employers? 

The new law prohibits you from requiring a job candidate to disclose a criminal record on the initial application or asking any questions about a candidate’s criminal history during the initial application process. It also prevents you from stating on the application or an advertisement for the open position that you will not accept applications from someone with a criminal record. 

However, the law does not require you to hire candidates with criminal records, nor does it prevent you from performing a criminal background check. 

Who must comply with the new law? 

As of now, the law applies to all public and private employers with at least 11 employees. This will change in 2021 when all employers will be subject to the law regardless of the size of the workforce. However, there are some exceptions. For example, if the job is part of a governmental program that encourages the employment of people with criminal histories, it is appropriate to make the inquiry. There is also an exception for positions that a person with a specific criminal history may not hold under local, state or federal law. 

What are the penalties for violation? 

An employer found to be in violation of the law has 30 days to come into compliance. For your first violation, you will receive a warning, then incur fines for any subsequent violations.