Sen. Elgie Sims

CHICAGO—A new law sponsored by Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) will break down a barrier many in Illinois with criminal records face when trying to get a job.

The new law will prevent wait times for background checks by allowing individuals otherwise qualified for a direct care position to start a background check before receiving a job offer.

Currently, applicants have to wait for the offer first, holding up the employment process.

“This new law will help many throughout the state get their lives back on track,” Sims said. “It will put people back to work and help keep them out of our prison system. By getting these background checks done upfront, we provide a greater level of transparency between applicants and employers, avoid wait times and help Illinoisans with criminal records have a better shot at getting a job.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in health care occupations is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.4 million new jobs.

“Employers in the health care industry need to fill positions quickly, and with this new law we are giving them the tools they need to hire qualified candidates in the most efficient and effective manner possible,” Sims said. “This new law will help millions of people throughout Illinois get a second chance at fully reintegrating into society by eliminating this employment barrier.”

Senate Bill 1965 was signed into law Wednesday. It takes effect immediately.