An all-new ISSA state-by-state summary of economic incentives for hiring nonviolent ex-offenders, people with disabilities, and armed forces veterans is now available online at ISSA.com. To learn more about these federal and state benefits, CMM spoke with ISSA Director of Government Affairs John Nothdurft.
On behalf of ISSA members, Nothdurft closely monitors federal and state legislation and regulations to identify, analyze, and track top issues. He then educates members about how they can take meaningful action in their local areas. ISSA is the only advocacy organization that represents the specific interests of the professional cleaning industry supply chain, and advocates for important priorities that foster growth and operational ease for ISSA member businesses.
CMM: What exactly does this report summarize?
John Nothdurft: For each U.S. state, this report lists certification resources, website links, and contact information for federal work opportunity tax credits (WOTC), and federal fidelity bonding. In addition, it includes links and contact info for tax credit programs available in each state for employers who hire ex-offenders, people with disabilities, and veterans. The lists are very concise and actionable.
CMM: Why is this information important to members of the professional cleaning industry?
JN: ISSA members report that attracting and retaining good employees is one of their greatest challenges. The labor market is tight, unemployment is low, wages are increasing, and quit rates reflect workers’ confidence in their ability to find other opportunities.
An out-of-the-box solution for manufacturers, distributors, and cleaning service providers is to consider overlooked labor pools, such as nonviolent ex-offenders, people with disabilities, and veterans of the U.S. armed forces. In many cases, federal and state incentive programs are available to employers who hire these workers. Some of these incentives are direct tax credits while others offer fidelity bonding to protect employers from possible risks.
This report shows employers how and where to get the information they need to take advantage of these helpful resources and programs.
CMM: Why should a company consider hiring a non-violent ex-offender?
JN: Hundreds of thousands of inmates are released from prison every year. They are qualified, rehabilitated, and ready to work, but often struggle to secure employment because many companies fear the consequences of hiring them. This fear, however, is largely unfounded. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, ex-offenders “are no more likely to commit workplace crimes [than other workers].”
For ex-offenders who are not able to secure employment to support themselves, five-year recidivism rates hover around 76.6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice. To help remedy this and reduce tax revenue demands for continued imprisonment and welfare services, federal tax credits and fidelity bonding are available in every state, and four states (California, Illinois, Iowa, and Louisiana) offer tax credits for employing ex-offenders.
CMM: What about people with disabilities?
JN: People with disabilities represent another largely untapped labor pool. In fact, according to the Brookings Institution, only 40% of adults with disabilities in their prime working years (ages 25-54) have a job, compared to 79% of all prime-age adults.
According to Brookings, many employers simply are not aware of the capacity of people with disabilities, are unfamiliar with how to recruit and hire them, and are unfamiliar with workplace accommodations. The good news is that more than ever before, “how-to” information is available to inform and educate employers, and a list of these helpful resources is published at the end of the new ISSA summary report.
The goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) embrace equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency. To advance these goals, the federal government offers Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) tax credits in all U.S. states, and additional state tax credits are available in nine states (Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Dakota, and Tennessee). The new ISSA report includes complete contact info for how to claim all of these federal or state tax credits.
CMM: What about veterans?
JN: With veterans, trends are a bit different. Military personnel are taught to exercise collaboration, cooperation, and personal development to achieve goals. While ex-offenders and people with disabilities face attitudinal barriers and stigma in the labor market, the jobless rate for veterans fell in 2018 to an 18-year low of 3.5%; down from 9.9% in 2011.
Employers who hire veterans of the U.S. armed forces can benefit from important economic incentives. Federal programs are available in all U.S. states, and additional incentives are offered in 12 states (Alabama, Alaska, California, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). The new ISSA report includes state-by-state contact information for all of these programs, too.