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Advice line: Disclosing criminal convictions

Claire Ronald examines the thorny issue of disclosing convictions on job application forms

In what feels like an ever more competitive job market the question to disclose or not to disclose can often arise.

Take criminal convictions.

Some people think that once a criminal conviction is spent it is wiped from the record. 

It is not. Instead, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 gives people the right not to disclose spent offences when applying for a job unless those jobs are exempt from the act.

Physiotherapy and physiotherapy support worker jobs are exempt from the Act and you will be subject to an enhanced form of disclosure prior to starting employment. 

The level of disclosure required for jobs in the health service (or in the private sector where you have direct patient contact) will generally list not only current and spent convictions and cautions but also relevant information held in police records.  

This can include information about attempted prosecutions that were unsuccessful or behaviour that may be indicative of criminal behaviour.

A past criminal conviction will not automatically bar you from employment.

It depends on a number of other issues, but a failure to disclose at the point of application something that your prospective employer will find out on disclosure is not advisable, and could lead to a disciplinary sanction or dismissal.

Instead, be as honest as possible on your application form and if there is space list not only the convictions but how they came about and how you feel about them now and what has changed since the time of the conviction.

  • Claire Ronald is a CSP senior negotiating officer

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