Employing people with criminal records

Gaining steady and meaningful employment is often an important step in the rehabilitation journey. And it’s a step that can’t be taken without employers willing to hire someone who has a criminal record.

As an employer it’s important to realise that people who have a criminal record are distributed across all sections of our society. They also come with a variety of skills, knowledge and experience – just like anyone else applying for jobs.  For some employers, and for whole occupational sectors, a criminal conviction may be of little importance in a person’s ability to do the job, and therefore shouldn’t affect the application process.

Beyond the myths

There’s a lot of prejudice that ex-offenders face when applying for employment, most of which is based on myths and supposition. In all the years we have been helping people on their rehabilitation journey we know that:

  • most ex-offenders feel they have something to prove and will be loyal and conscientious workers
  • in general they are as reliable as any other workers
  • given the opportunity of a fresh start an ex-offender will make the effort to fit in
  • people can and do put their past behind them – if given the opportunity

Police certificate and spent convictions

A job applicant doesn’t have to voluntarily provide information about a criminal record. As a part of the application process, some employers request a National Police Certificate which will list any criminal and traffic court outcomes as well as pending charges.

If someone has successfully applied to have an old conviction spent, it will not show up on the National Police Certificate. Legally a spent conviction entitles someone to assert they have “no convictions”. It is also important to note that under the Equal Opportunity Act, it is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of a spent conviction. Information on spent convictions can be found on the WA Police website.

If you have a job applicant who has disclosed a criminal record, we suggest you consider the following aspects when assessing their suitability for your company and for the job:

  • How relevant are the offences to the job being applied for
  • How long ago the offences occurred
  • How many times has the person offended
  • The nature and seriousness of the offences
  • The background to the offences
  • Whether the circumstances have changed (i.e. drug dependency, homelessness, domestic violence)
  • Whether or not they were work related
  • The person’s attitude to the offences

Sometimes it’s inappropriate to hire an ex-offender, but many times it simply won’t make any difference. You are welcome to contact us and discuss your situation.