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Employers’ guide to recruiting and supporting people with convictions
Hiring with Conviction: Working Chance have published an employers' guide to recruiting and supporting people with convictions.

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Hiring with conviction

Working Chance, the employment charity for women with convictions, has just (7 June 2023) published a new guide to recruiting and supporting people with a criminal record. The guide is split into four main sections:

  1. Why recruit people with convictions
  2. How to recruit people with convictions
  3. Dealing with disclosure of a criminal record
  4. Criminal records and the law


In England and Wales, there are around 12.3 million people with a criminal record. This huge group represents people with a wide range of knowledge, skills, attributes and experience. They may have served a custodial sentence (ie. been to prison) or may have served a community sentence (what used to be called community service), or had a caution or a fine.

Many people with convictions have committed relatively minor offences such as low-level
shoplifting, or traffic violations. Their conviction(s) may have been decades ago or very recent.
Even people who are currently still in prison can become part of the workforce, through a scheme known as Release on Temporary Licence.

Why recruit?

This section of the guide sets out three main rationales for recruiting people with convictions:

  1. The business case
  2. The social value case
  3. The ethical case

It then goes on to set out the facts about hiring people with convictions. The guide highlights that one of the most significant challenges for people with convictions is overcoming misconceptions and stigma. It then sets our a number of key fact which address some of the most common and unhelpful myths about people with convictions including:

  • You do not need to tell staff that a new employee has a conviction – in fact, the opposite is true. This data is sensitive and should be confidential.
  • Your liability insurance is unlikely to be affected by hiring someone with a conviction.
  • If someone with a criminal record does offend in the workplace, the employer is no more liable than if the employee did not have a criminal record.

The guide presents a helpfully balanced approaching noting that:

  • As long as the employer has taken a balanced approach to the risk and relevance of a candidate’s criminal record and recorded the rationale behind the decision-making, they may be no more liable for any criminal conduct committed by someone they hired with a criminal record, than they are for someone they hired who didn’t.
  • Employer liability exists regardless of whether or not the employee had a criminal record when they were recruited.
  • An employer may decide not to employ a person in a particular role where their past convictions may genuinely indicate an increased risk (eg. a candidate convicted on several occasions of dangerous or drink driving may be considered unsuitable for a driver role), but that would not and should not exclude the person from working in other roles within the business.


The guide is practical and written in plain (jargon-free) English and makes an excellent reference guide enabling employers to work through putting a policy in place, informing them where to get help and advice and developing a welcoming organisational culture. 

It also includes examples of success stories and includes eight useful appendices:

  1. Sample recruitment policy for people with convictions
  2. List of important Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) considerations
  3. Sample ROTL procedure
  4. Copy of paid ROTL memorandum of understanding
  5. Criminal record self-declaration form – ROA 1974
  6. Self-disclosure rules – ROA Exceptions Order self-disclosure flowchart for candidates
  7. Criminal record self-declaration form – ROA Exceptions Order
  8. New employee induction checklist

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Criminal Justice
If Jocelyn Hillman were Justice Secretary

My first priority as Justice Secretary would be to lead by example, hiring an ex-offender as my diary secretary. By employing women with convictions the government could reduce reoffending at no cost to the taxpayer, while also creating life-changing opportunities for some of the most marginalised people in our society.

I would ensure that ex-offenders were included in the Ministry’s diversity quotas and that my staff, from top to bottom, were engaged in understanding the importance of inclusive hiring practices. I would also ensure all government contractors were obliged to implement the same measures.

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