It has been estimated that a fifth of the UK working population has a criminal record.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act means that in most circumstances a job applicant does not need to state or disclose any ‘spent’ convictions. Spent convictions are those where a stipulated amount of time has passed since a persons conviction. Although it should be noted that prison sentences of longer than 2 and a half years and also particular offences are never classed as being spent.

The question arises that if you have a spent conviction and a potential employer asks you if you have any convictions then what do you say. You may be surprised to learn that you are legally entitled to reply ‘no’. Needless to say this can increase your chances of getting employment.

If a job involves a person having to work with children or vulnerable people then the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply to that. A good example of this is employment in the National Health Service. With these employers any conviction even is it spent will have to be declared. Many of them will also require successful candidates to undertake a CRB check.

You should never put down any criminal convictions on your CV, if you feel the need to volunteer this information then do it when face to face with the employer.

If there is a gap in your career due to you having a conviction and you do not wish to disclose it on your CV then simply put something like ‘unavailable for work due to personal circumstances’.

Police records
A criminal conviction is separate from police records, which are not the same as criminal convictions. A police record can be a final warning, reprimand or a police caution.

Studies into employment and offenders
Research has shown that paid employment is one of the most important factors in stopping offenders from re-offending. Studies have also shown that jobseekers with a criminal record can find it up to eight times more difficult to get jobs than non offenders.

Further advice and guidance
If you would like further advice on how to write a disclosure on your CV or when to disclose then consider contacting the crime reduction charity NACRO

Related topics:

Dealing with prejudice in job applications

Discrimination in the workplace