With over 11 million people having some sort of criminal record in the UK, how does it affect job opportunities?

Well, it all depends on the severity of the offences which have been committed, and what job role is being applied for.

This guide will take you through the ins and outs of the impact a criminal record can have on people in England and Wales.

Will Offences Show up on a Criminal Record Check?

Whether an offence shows up on a CRB/ DBS, background check depends on if the convictions are spent, or unspent. 

Certain criminal convictions become spent after a certain amount of time has passed, meaning that under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, some convictions can be effectively ignored. There are some which cannot be ignored which will be laid out below. 

A conviction is classed as unspent until the rehabilitation period for it is over, and the amount of time it takes to become spent depends on how severe the penalty was. 

Because your future employer will be getting a Disclosure and Barring Service check on your behalf, this will show up any potential unspent convictions on any disclosure level, whether it be Basic, Standard or an Enhanced DBS check. Any spent convictions will not appear on a Basic DBS Check, but will appear on both Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks.

What is the Difference Between Spent Convictions and Unspent Convictions?

Spent Convictions: These are convictions and cautions that the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 determine have reached the point where the person is to be considered (for most purposes) as if they have never committed the offence. 

Unspent Convictions: Unlike spent, these convictions and cautions have not been determined to have reached the point that they should be considered to never have happened. Many convictions can never become 'spent', for example, imprisonment of more than 2 years and 6 months, sexual, and terrorism offences. A full list of offences that will never be filtered can be found on the UK Government website. 

You read more about this on The Difference Between Spent and Unspent Convictions blog.

Do You Have to Disclose a Criminal Record When Applying for Jobs?

In an application process for potential jobs, you are legally required to disclose any unspent convictions. 

If you have a spent conviction, you must first consider whether it will be filtered in line with current DBS guidance, and employers are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of spent convictions. This rule is slightly different depending on the role applied for, as some jobs are exempt. This includes any role which involves working with children or vulnerable adults, national security, healthcare, and finance to just name a few. 

Only the information your employer is legally entitled to know will appear on your DBS certificate.

Can Convictions be Used Against Someone?

This all comes down to the severity of the convictions and if they could affect the job applied for. 

Very serious crimes which include sexual abuse, violence, or terrorism are going to stop someone from working with vulnerable groups such as children or vulnerable adults. Crimes that include the likes of theft or fraud could stop someone from being hired for a job involving finance or cash handling. 

Employers at businesses are not legally allowed to discriminate against applicants because of spent convictions unless of course, the DBS check shows they are unsuitable for the role.

So Does a Criminal Record Stop Someone From Getting a Job?

Put short, having a criminal record does not automatically stop someone from getting a job, so having one shouldn't cause too many issues.

Employers will more likely than not recognise that people mistakes and can change, so if the conviction wouldn't affect the role applied for, there's a good chance they will overlook it.

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