Criminal Records: What Recruiters Need to look out for

Hands in handcuffs on the tableSometimes, it is the employer that loses out massively. Often, this occurs when an employee is working their notice and steals information or tries to harm the company. This is why it has become increasingly common for employers to monitor and block malicious behaviour with software or products. You can often sort the wheat from the chaff before they enter the office by running a background check on their criminal history.  

Of course, not every youthful indiscretion necessarily reflects on the adult in front of you – likewise, not every criminal has a record. That’s the risk you take. You are entitled to ask about any criminal record your prospective employee might have, but there is a limit to how far you can probe.   

Asking about any prior convictions is an invasion of privacy, unless it’s necessary to the position. For example, you will need to run background checks on anyone who is working with children or vulnerable adults. Be aware that not all convictions stay on someone’s record forever – they will disappear from view after a number of years. If your candidate is applying for a nursing, doctor, barrister, accountant, solicitor, teacher, or care role, you are entitled to see both ‘spent’ and ‘unspent’ convictions.  

How Do You Know That Your Candidate Isn’t Lying?  

You can ask your potential employee if they have any previous convictions you need to be worried about, but to know that they’re telling the truth, you will have to request a formal record of their criminal history. This is called a ‘Basic Disclosure’ and the candidate has to attain it.  

In a situation where the employer is required by law to check even unspent convictions, a Criminals Record Bureau (CRB) check is necessary. This check is made through the employer. You will have to register with the CRB before you can look this deeply into a candidate’s criminal background.   

Your Candidate Doesn’t Have A Clean Record 

You are allowed to reject a candidate based on their criminal record. In fact, it may be required by law for you to do so. Otherwise, it’s advised that you think carefully before you dismiss your candidate; especially if they address their previous conviction in the meeting and convincingly explain how they have changed since then (proactively). Sometimes, a troubled youth or small convictions can add to character-building and important life experience.   

Only ask for a conviction history when you’re at the interviewing stage. You can offer jobs based on the condition that their CRB comes back clean – however, in such situations, asking a criminal law solicitor to help clarify any discrepancies  will be your best choice if there is any uncertainty. In addition, often, the most queried cases recruiters encounter relate to driving offences – so perhaps a direct contact with a specialist motoring solicitor will offer better peace of mind.  

What Happens If You’re Candidate Lies? 

You can dismiss your employee if you find out that they lied about previous unspent convictions, as this is a huge breach of trust. However, this doesn’t quite work the same for spent convictions – that would be unfair. Also, if your employee has been fantastic otherwise, will you really want to chuck them for this indiscretion? 


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