Can I Employ Someone With a Criminal Record?

Written by Calvin Bowers
Last updated December 16, 2020

Employing an ex-offender can provide significant benefits to your business, but is perhaps a process that not many organisations are familiar with.

Am I able to employ ex-offenders?

The short answer is, yes. You can employ someone with a criminal record unless the offence means the individual is barred from specific jobs. This is usually in the case of more serious crimes and typically prevents them working with children, adults or other groups.

Aside from this, employing an ex-offender is at your discretion. It is essential to decide whether the person’s conviction means they are unsuitable for the role. For example, an individual with a driving offence would perhaps not be suitable for a role such as a delivery driver.

What aspects need to be considered?

To help make your decision, it is important to weigh up the applicant’s skills, experience and qualifications against any risk assessment of the job.

Some of the questions you should answer include:

  • Is the offence related in any way to the role?

This is necessary for the protection of groups of people and your business. This can also be considered in a positive light too. For example, someone who has moved on from a drug-related offence themselves may be in a perfect position to work within a role that helps others do the same.

  • Is the offence related in any way to the role?

This is necessary for the protection of groups of people and your business. This can also be considered in a positive light too. For example, someone who has moved on from a drug-related offence themselves may be in a perfect position to work within a role that helps others do the same.

  • What were the circumstances surrounding the offence?

You should consider the circumstances surrounding the offence and listen to the explanation provided by the candidate. Their offence may have been as a result of personal difficulties relating to housing, finances or emotional wellbeing, and they may have completely turned their life around since then. You should look and respect openness and honesty as for a lot of people, their criminal record will be a difficult subject to talk about.

  • Do they have reliable references from other employers?

References from other reputable employers will be valuable in providing further insight. It will inform you of how the candidate works and whether there were any issues with previous employment, allowing you to assess the risk.

  • What level of supervision is involved in the role?

Does the role involve employees working by themselves or under supervision? Does the nature of their conviction require additional supervision to minimise risk?

  • Are there any safeguards or policies that can be put in place to minimise any risk?

For many ex-offenders, getting back into work is a significant deal. It could be beneficial to provide the employee with a mentor to help guide and settle them in. It may also be worth considering a probationary period, to cover your business if things perhaps don’t work out as planned.

What does the UK government do to support employers willing to hire candidates with a criminal record?2020-11-20T09:51:54+00:00

The New Futures Network is a Government campaign acting as a specialist part of the prison service. The Network aims is to connect serving prisoners and prison leavers with inclusive employers. By working with employers to help organisations understand the potential of ex-offenders, New Futures Networks helps ensuring everyone has access to a second chance. 

Last Updated: Tuesday November 24 2020
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