A 2016 YouGov survey commissioned by DWP found that that 50% of employers wouldn’t employ an offender or ex-offender. The survey also showed that, whilst only 32% had concerns about ex-offenders’ skills and capability, 40% were worried about the public image of their business and 45% were concerned ex-offenders would be unreliable. Hopefully some of the stats in this blog might help you change your mind as an employer?
Urban myths surrounding job applicants with criminal records are worth reviewing.
All ex-offenders have been to prison
Not true. Fines are the most common sentence (68%) given by all courts. Only a small number of people go to prison. Only 7.9% of offenders are given immediate custodial sentences.
All ex-offenders are men
This is another one that’s not true. 7 out of 10 men who have proceedings against them in court have some kind of action taken against them. Not all are custodial sentences. 9 out of 10 offenders given custodial sentences are men.
Ex-offenders are violent
Violence against the person is one of the most common crimes in the UK. BUT the severity ranges dramatically. These crimes often occur when offenders are under the influence of alcohol. 47% of victims of violent crimes believed the offender was under the influence of alcohol.
Violent crimes can result in sentences from a fine to prison sentence, depending on the severity of the act. The courts also consider mitigating factors. Working out if the offender has mental health issues or a learning disability is key. Violent offences account for 27% of convictions.
Ex-offenders are dishonest
Only a small number of offenders are sentenced for fraud and forgery offences. These are the crimes typically associated with dishonesty. These people often have no previous convictions. 6% of all convictions are for fraud or forgery. It’s a sobering fact to think that fraud and forgery can mean many things. It ranges from failing to tick the right box on a form, to crimes with significant financial implications. Sentences range from a fine to a prison sentence.
Reed surveyed employers. 72% who had knowingly employed someone with a criminal record said they were equally or more trustworthy than other staff with no convictions. 13% didn’t know they had a criminal record.
Only ex-offenders with a serious sentence have to tell an employer
When applying for most roles, anybody with a criminal conviction will have to tell an employer when asked for a specific period of time following their sentence. For example: if fined by a court, an applicant must disclose that they have a conviction for one year.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act specifies the length of time following sentencing that an offender has to declare their conviction. Ex-offenders are legally required to tick a box on an application form asking whether they have any ‘unspent’ criminal convictions. An unticked box indicating anything from a court fine to a lengthy prison sentence.
Some employment is exempt from the “spent” period of convictions. When applying for regulated roles, including those with children of vulnerable adults, applicants’ must disclose their entire criminal record. Only excluding an old, minor conviction if filtered from their record in line with restricted rules of recently implemented legislations. If you work in these sectors you’ll already be familiar with safeguarding in recruitment.
I’ve got job applicants with criminal records what do I do?
Don’t panic! Considering the role that they have applied for is useful. What bearing does the conviction have on that role? For example, if you’re recruiting for a cashier, deciding that someone with a conviction for stealing money is not appropriate may be reasonable. But someone convicted of drink driving doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t be trusted around money. Ask yourself, how recent was the offence? Taking the view that an offence committed 20 years ago may be reasonable if there are no further offences since. What bearing does this have on their suitability for a job now?
Maybe asking the job applicants with criminal records about their conviction is helpful. The circumstances can be an important . For example, a man convicted of a violent offence told of his girlfriend being accosted by another man. A fight took place. The job applicant’s story is that he was protecting his girlfriend. In the heat of the moment the other man was injured. The job applicant was prosecuted. Now he has an offence for violence. You may feel that this changes your view of the offence and how it relates to employment with you.
Other useful ideas
There is a pilot scheme offering employers a financial incentive to employ ex-offenders. Rolling it out is currently being considered by the Government so it might be useful to keep an eye on this development.
Ignoring a section of the available labour force available to your business might be short termism. Research shows that the treatment ex-offenders get when searching for work suggests that if you do take a chance you are likely to be well rewarded. You might just finish up with a committed. loyal employee because they appreciate the opportunity more keenly than some.
Are you complaining about chronic skills and labour shortages. Maybe investing in job applicants with criminal records is a solution that hasn’t been fully considered? Give us a call on 01706 565332 if you want to talk more about this.
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.