Employers FAQ

I’ve recently employed a person with a past criminal conviction. Is it best for all concerned that I keep that information confidential?

Yes  – your new employee should be assured that the confidentiality of disclosed information on criminal convictions will be respected. Normally, only the HR Manager needs to know, although in some circumstances it may be advisable that the person’s line manager be informed. If you have involved a selection panel in the interview process, you will need to talk to them all about confidentiality.

We recently interviewed someone who had disclosed their conviction in their application. I didn’t know whether to bring it up in the interview or leave it out. What is the best approach?

It’s usually best to bring it up. If the applicant is aware it’s being handled objectively, they will probably be glad to get it out in the open. It is advisable though, to let them know up front that it will be discussed so they can be prepared. The discussion should only focus on those convictions that may be relevant to the job and be conducted in a calm, factual and professional way.

What is the best way to inform an applicant who has disclosed a criminal record, that they have not got the job?

It is usually preferable that you let them know in writing and our recommendation is that you modify your standard ‘rejection’ letter to accommodate the disclosed conviction. In particular it’s important to make the distinction between the decision being based on their skills and experience or because of their conviction. We’ve included some phrases you may like to consider using:

In this instance, it was felt that your conviction was relevant to the position applied for. On closer scrutiny of your conviction and the job criteria, it was felt that it would be inappropriate for you to hold the position at this stage. We would, however, like to thank you for your honesty and welcome any future applications from you for other vacant positions for which it may not be relevant.

I am aware that during your application you did disclose a criminal conviction, and I would like to thank you for dealing with us in such an open and honest way. Please feel assured that the conviction was not deemed to be relevant, and therefore was not taken into consideration when assessing your suitability for this position. We will welcome future applications from you for other vacant positions.

Are there any problems with obtaining reference checks for job applicants who have recently been in prison? I understand that prison officials can’t give references.

Firstly it’s important to understand that only a small percentage of offenders go to prison. Your applicant who has disclosed a recent conviction may not have been incarcerated, so you can contact referees in the normal way. If an applicant has been imprisoned, don’t discount training acquired within the prison system. Some excellent training, including industry-accredited courses, occurs within prisons. The training officer will be able to provide you with the individual’s