In Re an application by Lorraine Gallagher for Judicial Review, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) rules are disproportionate because they require disclosure for multiple offences, even if they were minor, and fail to distinguish between warnings or reprimands given to juveniles and convictions. Read more ….
[see How to survive a criminal charge, conviction or police caution at work, Personal information about criminal convictions and offences, Working or finding a job with a criminal record, The Disclosure and Barring Service, Is it fair to dismiss an employee who has been charged with a criminal offence, but not convicted?]
If you are found guilty of a criminal offence by a court, the offence is recorded against your name and held on the Police National Computer. This page tells you about your employment rights if you are working or trying to find a job with a criminal conviction, and signposts you to available resources and support. [see How to survive a criminal charge, conviction or police caution at work]
Disclosure and Barring Service checks contain information about convictions, cautions, reprimands, and warnings which are on the Police National Computer.
Finding a job when you have a criminal record is difficult, but you can do it. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA) allows some criminal convictions to be ignored after a prescribed period. The intention of the act is to make sure that people do not have a lifelong blot on their records because of a relatively minor offence in their past. ROA is “an Act to rehabilitate offenders who have not been re-convicted of any serious offence for periods of years, to penalise the unauthorised disclosure of their previous convictions, to amend the law of defamation, and for purposes connected therewith.”
The Act does not apply to certain jobs such as those involving access to children, vulnerable adults, and other sensitive positions. The full list of exceptions is contained in the Exceptions Order of the Act.
ROA aims to improve the chances of people with convictions being fully rehabilitated into society by removing some of the barriers that they face. Cautions and convictions become ‘spent’ after a specified period of time. This specified period is different depending on the sentence that a person was given.
A prospective employer would want to make sure that you don’t have any previous criminal convictions. The fact that you have a conviction does not automatically mean that you are not suitable for the job, particularly where your conviction does not impact on your job.
There are particular roles for which you must disclose your spent convictions. These jobs are excluded from the ROA. The following are examples of jobs where you have to declare spent convictions;
In these jobs, if you are asked to disclose spent convictions, you do not have the legal right to say no. If you don’t declare when asked you could face prosecution and dismissal. The vast majority of jobs and professions are not covered by these exemptions and a request to disclose spent convictions can be ignored unless the position is exempt. Any job that requires a standard or enhanced disclosure will show spent convictions and cautions, so be upfront in applications and interviews.
If your conviction is unspent, then you do not have the legal protection of the ROA 1974 and cannot answer “no” when asked if you have a criminal record. This means that there is nothing to prevent a potential employer from asking you the details of those convictions if you admit to having a criminal record.
If your prospective or current employer asks, and you don’t declare an unspent conviction, you can be dismissed when your employer finds out. Your employer could sue you for breach of contract or even criminal prosecution.
If your prospective employer does not ask about your unspent convictions, then you don’t have to declare them. If your employer did not ask and later finds out and dismisses you, you may have an unfair dismissal claim. [see How to survive a criminal charge, conviction or police caution at work]
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