would you/have you hired anyone on work-release?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by lakesregionscapes, Mar 15, 2007.

  1. lakesregionscapes

    lakesregionscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 147

    Would you/have you rehired someone on work-release, that you know from prior experience?
    Specific example: A kid who worked for us last summer was an adequate worker, who'd never set records for speed, and had rather weak performance during cleanups, but he knew the mowing route and routine, could be sent out independently, and never earned complaints from customers. Frequently 15 minutes late, but never actually missed work without prior notice.
    Did a stupid teenager thing 3-4 years ago (was caught in possession of a stolen firearm - a .22 "from a friend") and after years of delays and postponements, he got stuck with 8 months time, work release after 6 months...
    He called last week to see if he could get his job back: available 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, can drive (needs to arrange for a ride - has it figured out), starting anytime (we still have snow).

    My concern is what effect could it have on our company/customer base, and has anyone tried this before. Bottom line is "felon on work-release". We're not worried about theft, or customer security (no bigger a risk than most hiring prospects around here), but the reaction IF customers found out. We deal with lots of retirees and summer residents, mostly middle class, only a couple big bucks property owners. Most of the customer's know him.
    We had one guy years ago who's wife used to run criminal record checks on the contractors working for him: we were told not to bring one specific enployee ever to that property. I am not aware of any particularily paranoid folks currently on our list though.

    At the time the available labor pool is weak, I'd expect a full half of the applicants have something they'd prefer not to share: mostly prior drug or alcohol issues, straightening out after losing licence, etc. A few have proven to be good workers, many leave/get canned after a short period... Most are still pretty young. We end up with 2-3 guys on payroll most of the season.
  2. salandscape

    salandscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 168

    Tough one, I may do it only since you seem to know him so well. But I would lay out some ground rules as far a preformance goes, bring up the previuos late/ slow working and make it clear that this won't fly with his record. Make it well known to him (not other employees) that you are going out on limb for him and he better not screw you!

    But go with you gut don't listen to me!
  3. marionlandscape

    marionlandscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 93

    I wouldn't worry too much about it. most people won't know about his felony and I doubt your clients have a secret information network if one of them should happen to find out about it. he will definatly be there every day it beats sitting in jail. you might even ask him if he wants to volunteer on Saturdays or his over-40 hours cleaning the shop or doing paperwork
  4. Need a Little Trim

    Need a Little Trim LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    I had something like this come across my desk (aka cell phone call in my truck) Covenant House called and asked if I would be using any fulltime/ Partime help in my landscaping division. They are transitional workers I was told I guess that is PC for ex cons. Still thinking about it but, I have a meeting set up with the guy next week. Still some labor issues here in New Orleans so might be a good idea.
  5. Metro Lawn

    Metro Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,116

    I would say keep him. He is dependable and gets things done without supervision. People make stupid mistakes and learn from them. You could end up having a long term devoted employee by treating him with respect and giving him a chance to redeem himself and not add to the problem by labeling him. A little could go a long way here. Just my opinion.
  6. Grits

    Grits LawnSite Silver Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 2,994

    My first reaction was HECK NO!!! But after hearing the story, I would think about it. Since you know him.....if you think you can trust him I say go for it. I know I have made my mistakes in the past, but I am still a good person. Things happen. But, if you did not have previous experience with him, I wouldn't.
  7. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    I have experience with work release cons, both while a superintendent at a golf course and as a business owner.
    That said, if the offense is non-drug related I will interview the individual with the PO there, discuss relevant facts with the PO and make my decision accordingly.
    Provided the offense is drug related there is no way in hell that I will hire this person regardless if Mother Teresa herself vouches for this person.
    I have never, ever, in over seventeen years in this industry hand first hand positive results with hiring drug related offenders.
    I have worked all up and down the eastern seaboard, most mid west states and am now in Texas.
    Given what you related about this guy I would more than likely give him a chance, with close supervision and if not weekly than bi-weekly reviews/reports to the supervising PO.
    In return I would expect local tax breaks from the taxing district, reduced labor per hour costs and considerations for municipal/county/state contracts as a result of my taking a chance in hiring people of proven criminal acts.
    I have tried and tried to extend a hand in fellowship to cons whom have fallen in to the clutches of the local criminal justice system - I refuse to take additional chances without some consideration/compensation for the risk(s) I am exposing my business/customers/employees and me too.
  8. JFGLN

    JFGLN LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,023

    We have hired two guys in the work release program. They were both good workers. Very motivated to work, always on time, never hungover. I think we also received a tax credit.
  9. Mow It All llc

    Mow It All llc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 115

    Im actually in the works of doing this. There is a program with Ocean County where you can take work release prisoners (Nothing Violent) nd have them work for you between 8am and 6pm. You DONT pay them, there NOT allowed to get paid (Im going to take care of them anyway) A friend of mine does it and he just pays him $10 an hr and send it to his wife and he is the happiest guy in the world, works his A$$ off and does great work. So it could be a good thing.
  10. mike007

    mike007 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 36

    Well to be honest as a kid I made a stupid mistake real similair to this kids. My advice is hire him, be somewhat strict and if he can stay straight reward him well. If he can see a positive outlet hell give it everything he has. Itll repay you tenfold in the future. For those out there that assume I dont know what Im talking about, someone did that for me and now Im making six figures (granted 2 jobs). Like I said, it was a mistake, talk with him to find out how he feels, make sure hes sincere about his answer and dont take any crap. Do this and you'll reap the rewards of a very loyal employee.

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