What Should Employers Do If A Job Applicant Has A Criminal Record?
Many employers request that job applicants get a DBS Check to search through their criminal record and reveal details of any offences committed. If the DBS Check shows that the applicant has a criminal offence on their record, employers are not always sure what to do.
The chances of an individual having some kind of offence on their criminal record these days is quite high, numbering at around 10 million people. This is equal to almost a quarter of the entire UK workforce.
Many of these offences will be for petty crimes, rather than serious ones, but the question still remains – what should employers do if a DBS Check reveals a conviction?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the options available to an employer when it turns out that a job applicant has a criminal record.
What to do if an applicant reveals their criminal record
If you are planning to recruit for a role that requires a DBS Check, then it’s a good idea to ask any applicants to volunteer details of any convictions on the job application form.
The job applicant can reveal the details of any offences directly to you, which will give you the option to consider whether to proceed with the application without needing to do a DBS Check. If the applicant doesn’t give any details of convictions, you should still proceed with a DBS Check to make sure.
If an applicant volunteers the information to you, the next step is to decide whether the conviction is relevant to the job role in question. If not, then employers need to be careful not to discriminate against applicants based on their criminal record. For instance, if somebody reveals that they got caught and convicted for shoplifting several years ago, but the job is a care role with children, which involves no handling of finances or valuable items, the employer would be best advised not to rule them out straight away.
What to do if a DBS Check reveals convictions
If a job applicant has a criminal record and it is revealed on a DBS Check, but they have not disclosed it on their application form, then you can rightly reject their application as they have lied by omission.
If the DBS Check shows an offence and you didn’t ask for disclosure on the application form, then you need to follow the same logic as above in the case where they revealed it on the form.
Firstly, don’t act hastily and reject the application out of hand. You should consider the nature of the conviction first and how relevant it is to the role in question. You should then consider whether the conviction is spent or unspent.
What is meant by a “spent” conviction?
A spent conviction is one that has been on a person’s criminal record for long enough that it is considered to be no longer relevant to recruitment decisions. The majority of criminal convictions and cautions are considered spent after a specified time period, but convictions that have resulted in a custodial sentence of 4 years or longer will never be considered as spent.
If a conviction or caution is marked as unspent, it means that the required amount of time for that type of crime has not passed yet.
Spent convictions are revealed on Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks, but not Basic DBS Checks.
How to decide whether a conviction is relevant
The truth of the matter is, many convictions and cautions will not be relevant to the job role being applied for. For instance, a person convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol several years ago may not be a risk whilst working a job as a shop assistant.
If the conviction has no connection to the job role or was committed a long time ago, you can use your discretion to ignore it and proceed with the rest of the recruitment process.
Our advice is to remain open minded. Under the rules of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, employers must not discriminate against individuals who hold a criminal record, unless it is relevant to the job role.
The key message here is, you don’t have to employ somebody who has a criminal record, but make sure you don’t discriminate against them. For example, if two people apply for a job and one is more suitable for the job in terms of qualifications and experience, but has a non-related offence on their record, it could be considered as discrimination to employ the other candidate simply based on their clean criminal record.
If you would like to find out more about criminal record checks, then get in touch with one of our advisors today.