Recruiters and employers should give serious thought about what to do if job applicants have criminal records – if you look at the numbers they’d be mad not to.
Nearly ten million people in the UK have criminal records – that’s a fifth of the adult population – and many are searching for work.
It goes without saying plenty of these job seekers will have alluded to their past in their application and have given a list of unspent criminal convictions.
They may have also volunteered information about a spent criminal conviction. So what do you do if an applicant tells you they’ve got a criminal record?
What to do if job applicants have criminal records – and what not to do
Firstly don’t react in haste and above all don’t panic.
The first thing you need to know is that it is against the law to refuse someone a job because they have a spent criminal conviction or caution.
That is unless it’s because a DBS Check shows they are unsuitable for the work you are offering.
What is a ‘spent’ conviction and how do I avoid breaking the law myself?
‘Spent’ is the description given to cautions or convictions that were recorded some time ago.
Most cautions and convictions become ‘spent’ at some time. Only convictions requiring a custodial sentence of four years or more are never ‘spent’.
Any more recent cautions or convictions that are not yet spent are considered ‘unspent’. It is as simple as that.
You aren’t allowed to ask about spent convictions unless the role is suitable for an Enhanced DBS Check.
However, let’s say you have an applicant with a string of unspent convictions and one spent conviction, which he or she has volunteered to tell you about…
Are the applicant’s convictions relevant to the work on offer?
All jobs are different. Say, for example, our candidate’s convictions all relate to drink driving – if the role doesn’t require the applicant to drive and the convictions do not appear connected in any way to the job, you might well consider them irrelevant.
The main thing is to look upon the convictions with an open mind.
If they appear unimportant or irrelevant, move on and use the rest of the information you have available to decide on the applicant’s suitability.
If you consider they are relevant and you couldn’t employ the applicant because of them, make detailed notes about how you have come to your decision and advise the applicant accordingly.
Just remember you don’t have to employ people who have a criminal record but you should do everything you can to avoid discrimination.
Hope this helps but as always get in touch if you have any queries!