What you need to know about employing people with criminal records

Companies today are very careful about who they hire, which often means that many otherwise competent individuals do not get the chances they deserve due to some aspect of their past that is not exactly optimum. This is never more evident than in the case of people who have criminal records.

So many businesses are so reluctant to hire people who have criminal records because they are nervous about it affecting their reputation, or they are worried about the honesty and integrity of the individual in question. This is pretty understandable, but it also means that a lot of really talented people, who would actually be great employees are never given the chance to prove themselves. Not only that, but ex-offenders are often even more loyal and hardworking than other employees because they know how much harder it can be for them to get work.

So, if you run a business, you definitely should not discount hiring someone with a criminal record, but there are a few things you should know…

When is it Legal to Employ Someone with a Criminal Record?

If you conduct a DBS check on an applicant at ucheck.co.uk, and you find that they have a previous conviction(s), there is nothing stopping you from hiring them unless they are barred from working with children or vulnerable adults who they will be put into contact with during the course of their work, or in a few other cases, which you can find out about by reading the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, which you can read at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1974/53. It’s basically down to your own discretion otherwise, so you have nothing to worry about if you do feel like you can take a chance on someone with a criminal record.

Is it Legal to Refuse Someone with a Criminal Record a Job?

If you find that someone who wants to work with you has a criminal record, you are not allowed to discriminate against them on that basis if their conviction is spent, but if their conviction isn’t spent, and their offence is relevant to the role they will be doing eg. they were convicted of stealing and they will be working with money, you can refuse to offer them work.

Should You Tell Other Employees About their Criminal Record?

This is something that you should not do unless the applicant has given you their permission to do so, but even then you should think very carefully about disclosing an employee’s criminal record to other members of staff because it can lead to workplace bullying, a lack of trust and other issues which could make it difficult for the employee in question and difficult for you to manage.

How Should You Discuss the Criminal Record with the Applicant?

If an employee discloses a previous conviction to you, it’s important that you discuss it with them as frankly as possible if you want to make the right decision as to whether you should employ them or not. Do not grill them, but do ask them about the exact nature of the offence, what led up to it happening, how they feel about it now and how they believe they can fit into the workplace bearing everything that has happened in the past in mind. If they come up with reasonable answers and you feel that they have moved on, then it is probably safe to assume that they will be fine to employ, using your discretion, of course.

Of course, if their conviction is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, and it doesn’t really relate very much to your business, you son;t necessarily need to talk about it at all if you don’t want to. It’s probably a good idea to make some mention of it just for everyone’s peace of mind, but it is not essential.

Can I Fire Someone Who Lied About Their Criminal Record?

If you employ someone and then find that they have a criminal record which you are not comfortable with, you can terminate their employment providing that their conviction is something that relates to and could have a negative impact upon your business. However, if they have been  working for you without issue, they do their job well, and they didn’t lie about the conviction in the first place – you just neglected to ask – it may be work, as long as you aren’t breaking the law by having them there, keeping them on and giving them a chance. A lot of people with past criminal records have made a mistake, paid for it and moved on. By giving them another chance, you can help them to turn over a new leaf, and of course, you will benefit from having a great employee and not having to go through the recruitment process again.

Are There Any Benefits to Hiring an Ex-offender?

There are a surprising number of benefits to hiring someone who has been in trouble with the law in the past, providing that you use your discretion to hire people who are in a good place now. Here are just some of them:


When you give someone with a criminal record a chance when others won’t, they are far more likely to remain loyal to you. Ex-offenders know that it is likely to be much harder for them to secure employment, so when you take a risk on them and give them a job, they will be grateful, and they will work hard.


Despite the image of people with criminal records being less intelligent and less qualified than the average person, a lot of people who have been to prison in the past have benefitted from various levels of education, which can make them perfect for your company. If more companies who struggle to find skilled workers were more open to employing people with criminal records. The economy would probably be in a much better place.

Societal Improvements

When people have stable jobs and people who believe in them, they are more likely to stay in the straight and narrow and contribute to society. This benefits us all.

I hope this helps you to feel more comfortable about dealing with individuals who have criminal records in your business.

*This is a contributed post

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