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December 4, 2020

Second Chances – What the Second Chances Bill Means for Georgia Employers


Georgia’s Second Chances Bill (Senate Bill 288) removes barriers to individuals participating in the workforce by allowing certain misdemeanor offenses to be expunged after specific criteria are met. Simultaneously, it expands liability protections for employers who hire someone with a criminal history. Expanding record restriction saves employers significant time and money in the screening process of applicants by removing conviction information that is not relevant to the hiring process.  

Georgia employers have been implementing policies and strategies to include more people with criminal records, but it is an onerous process that is not necessary in many other states with record restriction already in place. While Georgia is still one of the more conservative states when it comes to record restrictions, SB 288 better aligns our state with 40 other states that have enacted reforms making it easier to hire individuals with criminal histories. In 2019, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Mississippi extended record restriction eligibility to include more felony charges; Missouri, Louisiana, North Carolina and Texas extended eligibility to include more misdemeanors.

Changing Georgia’s law so certain convictions can be restricted and sealed after a period of time yields opportunity for nearly 1.5 million Georgians who are rehabilitated and want to work.

Helping returning citizens gain employment to fill open positions is good for business and for the community because employment is one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism. And the expansion of liability protections for employers who hire someone with a criminal history supports employers trying to include more individuals in their workforce with background barriers. 

With Sen. Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia) and Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) leading the way at the Capitol, the Metro Atlanta Chamber worked closely with the Georgia Justice Project and a diverse group of coalition members move the Second Chances Bill across the finish line. With bi-partisan support, Senate Bill 288 passed both the House and the Senate chambers unanimously on June 24, 2020. The bill was signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp on August 5, 2020 and goes into effect January 1, 2021. 

The implementation of SB 288 will further our efforts to keep Georgia the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business and foster a more inclusive economy. 

For more information about how this bill impacts your business, check out the December 3 Second Chances webinar featuring Brenda Smeeton, Legal Director, at the Georgia Justice Project. 

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