By Chris Proctor

in Nacro comments

Last week I was contacted by Owen* via the public helpline who was applying for a job with a large, well-known national organisation. He had recently spent some time in prison and was explaining to me how difficult he was finding trying to turn his life around on the outside. Applying for work was a nightmare and he couldn’t bear to receive another rejection letter from an employer, or worse, no response at all. He then began to tell me how he had found the perfect job but there was one problem. He had to answer the following question:

Do you have any unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings?

He was toying with the idea of ticking no on the application form. He thought that no employer would be interested if he told them he had a record. That’s when I decided to tell him this story:

Jack* applied for a job working as a sales assistant at a large national organisation. He had previously worked for a rival and had been dismissed following his imprisonment for benefit fraud. Jack received a nine-month sentence but was released after four and a half months. He applied for a new job after he was told that he would not be allowed to return to his old job. When completing the application form, Jack was asked whether or not he had any criminal convictions. He answered no. This organisation did not perform any type of criminal record check. Jack impressed them at interview and was given the job.

Unfortunately for Jack, his next door neighbour came into the store where he worked and recognised him. His neighbour informed his boss about the conviction for benefit fraud. Jack was called into his boss’s office and immediately suspended from work. His employer conducted an investigation and subsequently found out more information about Jack’s conviction. His employer then conducted a disciplinary hearing. Jack was found to have breached his employer’s trust and confidence for failing to disclose his criminal conviction and was dismissed immediately. Jack appealed the decision. His appeal was rejected by his employer. As he had been in this job for less than two years he had no employment rights.

Katie* contacted Nacro whilst applying for an administrative job at the same organisation. She had several convictions for shoplifting and theft. She had been in and out of prison, as recently as eight months prior to her application. I advised Katie about disclosing her criminal convictions to the employer and the different options available to her and the respective pros and cons of the different options. Katie went away and completed the application form. When asked about whether she had any criminal convictions, she decided to answer yes on the application form, although she did not go into any detail. At her interview Katie provided the organisation with a disclosure statement which she had prepared using our disclosure guide and then sent it to us for some feedback. She was subsequently offered the job and has been working there ever since.

Owen then said “So, what shall I do?” and my response was “What do you think?”

If you want to know what specific advice and guidance was given to Katie on how to disclose her criminal record to her employer read our next blog about the key points to remember when disclosing or follow us on twitter @Nacro_.

* Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.