You Want to Know, but Can You Ask?

 11 November 2015

A survey has revealed that 61% of employees believe that ‘having a criminal record’ is the worst thing that you could possibly admit to a prospective employer. However, one in four adults in the UK actually has a criminal record – so how do you know if the person you’re interviewing is one of these?

The good news is that you can ask potential employees about ‘unspent’ criminal convictions, although the obligation on employees to disclose this information is limited. You cannot enquire about convictions that are considered ‘spent’ unless the occupation, profession or office the applicant is applying for is one of the stated exemptions (for instance, an individual working with vulnerable groups).

In the event that the job you are interviewing for is exempt, therefore eligible for a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service, the successor to the CRB) check, then this is a sure-fire way to reveal a conviction that might otherwise have remained hidden. You can make the successful completion of a DBS check a condition of employment. Failing the check would then enable you to withdraw the job offer.

If you are not able to impose a DBS check as above, but you wish to verify the potential employee’s response in relation to ‘unspent’ convictions, you can ask them to undergo a basic disclosure. Although this will not give you a full account of their criminal background where ‘spent’ convictions are concerned, it will at least confirm the information that they have given you.

At Alpha, we can help you to create a robust recruitment process that is legally compliant. This is a complex area and one which can land you in trouble – either by recruiting the wrong person or by asking the wrong questions. At Alpha, we are experienced in creating bespoke recruitment processes that enable your company to get the staff you deserve. Please contact us for more information.


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