first_img Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Legislationdue to come into force next year which will allow employers to ask jobapplicants for details of their criminal records could lead to increaseddiscrimination against offenders. Ross Wigham reportsLegislation due to come into force next year will mean employers will beable to ask job applicants for details of their criminal records. The provisions in the Police Act (1997), which will become law in autumn2002, are designed to provide information to help recruit-ers make moreinformed decisions about the suitability of those seeking work in positions oftrust. But research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has raised concerns thatthe new powers could lead to heightened discrimination against offenders oreven increase the risk of further criminal activity. Although the Act is designed primarily for positions that involve regularcontact with children or vulnerable adults, all employers will be able to askapplicants for details of any convictions which are not spent, under the law’sbasic disclosure provision. Seventy-two per cent of the 400 employers surveyed by JRF say it is very orquite likely that they would require applicants to provide basic disclosures ofcriminal records under the act. One in four private employers reveal they would not seek the informationunless making a firm job offer but the study concludes that many organisationswould use the disclosure system to vet applications before interview. Del Roy Fletcher, co-author of the report, is worried about the consequencesfor past offenders. “Requests for basic disclosure certificates seem setto become a standard recruitment practice once the legislation comes intoforce,” he said. “Ex-offenders already face considerable difficulties finding work, eventhough a steady job can play an important part in making it less likely theywill commit further crime. Our research suggests disclosures will heighten thelevel of discrimination against offenders, with serious potential consequencesfor levels of re-offending.” The CIPD warns employers that they must use the new powers responsibly andlearn how to deal with this type of information sensitively. “The research shows that employing offenders is something employers arenot comfortable with,” said Dianah Worman, adviser on diversity at theCIPD. “There are certain jobs where employers need to ensure people don’thave certain convictions – child abuse, for example. The problem is thatemployers have not been used to dealing with this kind of information and theserecords will show all kinds of convictions, which could throw employers.” Worman told Personnel Today that employers will have to make a judgment onwhether they can employ people and what information is most relevant whenmaking that choice. She added, “The availability of records will mean thatemployers will have to become more efficient in dealing with the informationand the candidates sensitively.” The changes have been broadly welcomed by the CBI, which claims that unfairdiscrimination is not a relevant argument. “Taking into account a criminal record is not unfair discriminationbecause it could be a relevant factor in assessing whether an individual issuitable for the job or not. Obvious examples include the security industry,accountancy and care homes for vulnerable groups like children and theelderly,” said a spokesman. The CBI believes that employers are fully entitled to know about candidates’unspent past convictions and to take them into account in hiring decisions.”Employers have a duty of care to their staff and customers to ensure thatthe candidates they take on are suitable,” he said. The CBI thinks the new system will help cut down on errors and poor qualitydata caused by the practice of individuals being asked to obtain their ownrecords because of the current limitations on checking applicants. The spokesman added, “Where vetting does occur, the establishment ofthe Criminal Records Bureau and the availability of basic disclosure is to bewelcomed. “It replaces the system of obtaining records from police stations,which was inaccurate, slow and unreliable.” Tracy Myhill, president of the Association of Healthcare Human ResourceManagement, does not think employers will use the legislation to discriminateagainst job applicants with criminal convictions. She said NHS employers are already able to check whether job applicants havecriminal records if they are applying for roles where they will be involvedwith children or vulnerable adults. “We treat every case individually and make a judgement depending on thenature of the conviction. “We will take advantage of the fact that there is more informationavailable, not to discriminate against people but to protect the clients theywould be looking after.” Myhill is confident employers will use common sense and will not abuse theirnew powers. She said, “All employers want the best person for the job and justbecause someone may have done something in their past, does not mean they arenot good workers. “Getting people back to work is important because not only does it helprehabilitate them it will also stop them reoffending.” www.jrf.org.ukEmploying ex-offenders: the stats– Less than 1 per cent of the 22,000job applications studied in the analysis revealed details of previous criminaloffences, despite Home Office figures showing that one in three men have atleast one criminal conviction for a non-motoring offence.– Seven out of 10 employers thought it “very” or”quite” likely they would require a basic disclosure certificate fromapplicants.– One in four private employers said they would not seek theinformation unless making a firm job offer.– Two out of three employers had a formal or informal policy onhiring people with criminal records, many of which restricted recruitment tosome extent.Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation Controversy over plans to reveal job applicants’ criminal recordsOn 16 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Articlelast_img

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