HARRISBURG (KDKA) — Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 637 on Wednesday, aimed at assisting people with criminal records to reenter the workforce in Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania must be a place where hardworking people can put their skills to work,” said Gov. Wolf. “Arbitrarily denying someone a job license because of outdated rules against criminal records is wrong. This new bipartisan law is a commonsense way to allow people to pursue the American dream and build a better life in Pennsylvania. It’s good for skilled workers, their employers and the economy for all of us.”
The bill, now signed into law, removes some job licensing barriers to Pennsylvania workers with a criminal record. According to the Wolf administration, one in five Pennsylvanians needs an occupational license to work.
As of Wednesday, boards and commissions are not allowed to deny someone employment based on their criminal history unless their prior offenses are related to that particular line of work. Additionally, if boards and commissions do have stipulations about granting a job license to someone based on certain prior criminal offenses, that information will have to be publically available. Boards are also asked to consider other factors of the applicant before deciding based on their criminal record and are requested to provide a preliminary decision to applicants so that applicants can present evidence to support their case for a license. Juvenile records or convictions expunged by the Clean Slate Law may not be considered by boards and commissions’ decisions to grant an occupational license.
However, sexual offenders will still not be permitted to work as healthcare providers.
“The Pennsylvania Department of State has been a vocal advocate for professional licensing standards that protect the health and safety of Pennsylvanians and are free of unnecessary or unclear requirements,” said Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar. “We believe this new law is a step forward toward that goal. We applaud the legislature and Governor Wolf for making this much-needed reform in the commonwealth’s licensing laws.”