Do I Have to Disclose My Criminal Record to Employers?

Written by RAC Editor
Last updated December 30, 2020

If you have a criminal record, it is important for you to understand and be confident in knowing when and how to disclose this information when applying for jobs.

Do you have to disclose?

Legally you only have to disclose your criminal record if it is still ‘unspent’, your employer asks you to or if you are applying for a specific role.

After being convicted or cautioned, this information stays on your record for a specific amount of time. The length of time will depend on the type of punishment or sentence you received, and your record remains ‘unspent’.

After the allocated amount of time passes, most convictions or cautions then become ‘spent’. This means they are no longer on your basic criminal record and will only show up on more detailed DBS checks.

Some roles require the disclosure of a criminal record even if it is ‘spent’ and employers can carry out enhanced DBS checks. Examples of where this occurs include jobs within healthcare or working with children.

When is the best time?

Every employer uses different recruitment methods, so the best time to disclose may not be the same in every case. Generally, the ideal time to disclose your criminal record is when you are asked.

Which way?

When you are applying for a role, it is always a good idea to draw up a disclosure statement. You can either give it to the employer as a written statement or disclose your criminal record verbally. Whichever way is most appropriate, it is always best to have something prepared, so you know what you are going to say.

It is recommended that you give a brief explanation of your conviction and if appropriate the circumstances you found yourself within. It is also beneficial to reassure the employer that you are no longer a risk and include any other employment or voluntary experience that can help to demonstrate this.

Your rights

By law, employers are not allowed to refuse you a role because you have a spent conviction or caution unless it means you are unsuitable for the job.

Are certain sectors or businesses more willing to hire ex-offenders than others?2020-11-20T09:15:23+00:00

There are a variety of sectors that typically hire a greater number of ex-offenders. People with criminal convictions can bring many benefits to the workplace and certain employers are actively looking to recruit ex-offenders. These include employers in the construction and transportation industries. It is also important to remember that certain sectors, such as child care and teaching, are unable to consider people with a criminal conviction. 

What jobs cannot be done with a criminal record?2020-11-20T09:13:58+00:00

A criminal conviction may prevent you finding employment in a select few areas, including teaching, child care, health care, policing, legal professions and the civil service. However, a criminal conviction will not put an end to your career; there are a host of employers who actively target former offenders. It is also important to remember that the nature of your conviction will make a difference. For example, minor traffic offences do not usually form part of a criminal record and therefore will less likely affect your employment prospects.

Last Updated: Tuesday November 24 2020
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