Developments at OPM: On May 2, 2016, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published a Proposed Rule with Request for Comments in the Federal Register, 81 Fed.Reg. 26,173-26,175. This proposed rule is part of the Administration’s larger “ban the box” initiative to avoid deterring applicants with criminal records or negative credit history from applying for federal positions.
Under current federal hiring policies, many agencies have job applicants file a detailed questionnaire (so-called “optional” form 306, or OF-306), which asks detailed questions that require the applicant to reveal criminal history (questions 9-11) or certain credit issues (question 13). OPM’s proposed rule is based on concerns that this questionnaire deters applicants with criminal histories (who have paid their debt to society) or those with credit issues from even applying for federal jobs, out of fear that their answers on OF-306 will automatically exclude them from consideration. Under the proposed rule, agencies would be prohibited from asking applicants to fill out OF-306–or ask questions similar to those appearing on OF-306–until after a conditional job offer had first been made. The proposed rule allows agencies to seek waivers of this restriction from OPM in certain circumstances.
This proposed rule dovetails with a new presidential memorandum, “Promoting Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Formerly Incarcerated Individuals” which was issued three days earlier by President Obama. The memorandum sets forward a larger agenda seeking to reduce automatic barriers to jobs, licenses, etc… for individuals with criminal records, in favor of a more individual case-by-case analysis.
Comments on OPM’s proposed rule are due July 1, 2016.
If you are a federal employee, and wish to discuss your rights, consider contacting Passman & Kaplan to request an initial consultation.