Giving job applicants with a criminal conviction a chance

Mark Owen – Health & Safety Expert

August 04 2015

It is fact of life; we all make mistakes, most of which are harmless and innocently made, however when the bad decisions and mistakes you make are illegal, the consequences of your actions can have a negative impact for years to come. For individuals who commit an offence, the sentence they receive can often stay with them after they leave the confinements of the legal system, taking a different form in the shape of possible rejection from certain aspects of society including gaining employment. Ex-offenders are already at a disadvantage when they re-enter society.  They may be ostracised by their relatives and loved ones, whilst having to face the time they have missed out on, which makes attempting to integrate back into a functional routine extremely difficult. Getting ex-offenders back into work will provide them with the opportunity to avoid falling back into bad habits and reduce the likelihood that they will re-offend. This is easier said than done, as it comes down to the employers’ showing willingness to give them a chance. Whilst it may seem fair to ask an applicant to tick a box if they have a criminal conviction, it is not a true reflection of the individual in their present mind-set as it does not provide them with the opportunity to explain their circumstances, highlighting how far they have come since committing the offence. Under The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) most convictions and all cautions or warnings are considered spent after a certain period of time, which is determined by the length of the sentence the offender is given.  After this time, those with spent convictions have the legal right not to disclose them when applying for a job. Most organisations and jobs will be covered by the ROA, however for jobs that are exempt from the ROA for example those in teaching or the medical profession; the employer is entitled to request the details of any spent or inspent convictions. Ex-offenders should not automatically be typecast as morally corrupt individuals who cannot be trusted to work within a business.  By avoiding pigeon-holing these individuals you may find that they are intelligent, approachable and highly employable candidates. Employers can play a large role, however, in integrating ex-offenders back into society, thus providing a potential solution to the problem. Employing individuals with a criminal conviction is not without its challenges, however providing them with a fair opportunity to gain employment not only serves their best interests, but it may allow you to find the skills necessary to help grow and develop your business, which you may have missed out on by allowing personal hesitations to cloud your judgement. For further clarification on this issue please contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.

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