When looking at job descriptions and requirements, you may see the word “bondable” – as in “you must be bondable” for this job. Just what does that mean, and does a criminal record make you “unbondable?”
Jobs that require bonding are generally those in which employees deal with cash or other valuables. Bank and jewelry store employees, for example, often must be bondable. Those employed by contractors and other businesses that do work in people’s homes (electricians, plumbers, painters, cleaners and so forth) are often bonded. It’s a selling point for many service providers to help their customers feel safe allowing strangers to work in their homes. Even employees who will have assets to trade secrets, confidential information and other valuable non-physical assets may need to be bondable.
What does getting bonded involve?
To be bonded, a prospective employee must pass a background check so an employer can get a bond (which is basically an insurance policy) that protects them financially from any criminal offense or fraud that the employee might commit.
A background check to be bonded does include accessing their criminal record, if there is one. It also looks at a person’s credit and work history, evidence of substance abuse and military service record (if applicable). In essence, the company providing the bond wants to do its best to make sure a person isn’t likely to steal or commit some other offense that will require them to pay out on losses.
The Federal Bonding Program and other alternatives
Does this mean that a criminal record prevents you from being bondable? Not necessarily. The U.S. Department of Labor has a Federal Bonding Program (FBP). It was established to help people with a record or other issues like those noted above get bonded so that they can get a good job and be less likely to end up back in prison.
Employers can get FBP bond insurance at no charge for an employee who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for a bond. It will reimburse them for any theft losses caused by that employee.
While the FBP can help you if you’re seeking a job that requires bonding, you may be eligible to have your record expunged or your conviction vacated. This can remove your record from the view of potential employers and those doing background checks for any reason (such as housing). It’s always wise to explore these options.