Past convictions still effecting individuals’ futures

Featured Image

In the UK 75% of companies still continue to probe jobseekers about past convictions during the application process. Research conducted by Unlock, a charity for people with convictions, found that 22% of employers had asked questions in a manner that was potentially unlawful or misleading.

The study found that if an employer asks misleading questions, it could expose them to the risk of asking for information that they are not entitled to and this in turn may put off some applicants that believe they should not have to disclose such information.

Christopher Stacey, Co-Director of Unlock, believes that the amount of employers removing questions with regards to a criminal record is progressive, however the attitude towards completely removing questions about past convictions is not moving quickly enough. Stacey stated that the results from the study are “unsurprising” and that “employers are asking about criminal records at application stage as a way of deselecting applicants”.

The aim of Unlock is to increase the number of opportunities for people who have convictions to try and secure work, and they represent themselves as advocates of changing such outlooks within recruitment. As part of this Unlock have co-founded the ‘Ban the Box’ campaign.

Ban the Box campaign

The campaign refers to the tick box that candidates have to mark if they hold a criminal record. Stacey says that the campaign has had a positive impact on over 110 businesses in the UK, including some big name firms such as Barclays, Boots, the Civil Service, and Virgin Trains.

The new research has found that is remains a default for many interviewers and employers to ask whether people have criminal records at the application stage, with approximately 75% of companies using this particular box to disregard applicants at an early stage.

Many recruitment firms are urging their candidates to be honest about their past in terms of convictions in order to build trust with the prospective employers. A large number of businesses are promoting a future in which the ‘Box is Banned’, therefore preventing jobseekers with convictions from having to reveal them during the recruitment process.

Jocelyn Hillman OBE and CEO of recruitment agency Working Chance stated that the “as a society, we claim we want prison to reform people, to allow them to reintegrate into mainstream society again. Yet, if we won’t let them work because of their criminal conviction, how can we expect them to become part of mainstream society?”

The laws perspective?

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 states that it is unlawful for employers to take past convictions or cautions into account when making decisions on recruitment.  The website says that employers can ask the jobseeker for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) but only for certain roles, this is particularly common in healthcare or childcare sectors.

Throughout the application process for jobs, employers are encouraged to stop asking about criminal records in order to create more opportunities and to prevent jobseekers with convictions from being disregarded in the recruitment process.

Have you heard of the ‘Ban the Box’ campaign? If you have any queries or concerns in relation to candidates with convictions, you can contact a member of the oneHR team on:


Phone: 0845 509 6854

Tweet: @oneHR_


Please follow and like us:
Back to News