BUSINESS OWNERS, take note: "Ban the Box" goes into effect tomorrow.

Pull up a chair if you just uttered a deeply confused, "Huh? Wha'?"

"Ban the Box" - also known by its less-catchy official name, the Philadelphia Fair Criminal Screening Standards Ordinance - was signed into law by Mayor Nutter in April.

The ordinance prohibits any business in the city that employs more than 10 people from asking job-seekers either on their application or during their first interview if they have any criminal convictions.

Courts, prisons and the Police Department are exempt from the law.

The aim, Nutter said last spring, is to give ex-offenders a fair shot at being considered for jobs for which they'd otherwise be qualified.

The ordinance, introduced by former Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller, notes that one-fifth of Philadelphians have criminal records.

"It gets your foot in the door, but it doesn't guarantee employment," said Deputy Commerce Director Kevin Dow, who's been reaching out to business leaders across the city to explain the new law.

Employers are allowed to perform background checks on applicants and ask whether they've been convicted of a crime once they get beyond the first interview, said Rue Landau, the executive director of the city's Commission on Human Relations.

Employers who violate the law will at first receive a warning notice from the commission and be given 30 days to rectify their error.

Ultimately, violators could be hit with a $2,000 fine every time they violate "Ban the Box."