Employing ex-offenders: convictions disclosure regime changes

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By Emma Cousins

Employing ex-offenders is a sensitive issue: some employers are wary of potential risks and reputational damage, while others embrace the idea wholeheartedly. Sir Richard Branson, for example, ‘would like to encourage more companies to proactively recruit ex-offenders’.

Most job applicants and employees are not obliged to disclose past criminal convictions. There are a number of important exceptions and safeguards, in particular regarding certain professions and jobs involving children and vulnerable adults. However, it is open for employers to require job applicants and employees to disclose all ‘live’ convictions, that is those that are not ‘spent’. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 sets out the periods of time during which convictions remain live. These periods will be reduced with effect from 10 March 2014, in an attempt to increase the employment opportunities for ex-offenders…

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