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Ex-Offenders Policy

Our Policy on Employment of Ex-Offenders

  1. Background
    The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act was introduced to ensure that ex-offenders who have not re-offended for a specified period of time since their date of conviction are not discriminated against when applying for jobs. The Act enable ex-offenders to ‘wipe the slate clean’ insofar that, unless the job they are applying for is exempted, they are no longer required to disclose to organisations convictions that are spent. In other words it is unlawful for an organisation to discriminate against an ex-offender on the basis of a spent conviction unless they are applying for an exempted job. The length of time required for a conviction to become spent depends on the sentence received and the age when convicted.

    There are, however, a number of jobs that are exempt from the Act in order to protect vulnerable groups within society. Such posts might involve unsupervised access to children, young people, the elderly, disabled people, alcohol and drug users and the chronically sick.

  2. Introduction
    The purpose of the policy is to ensure that SkillForce fully with the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and best practice in its recruitment of staff with a criminal record. It aims to ensure that it treats all applicants for jobs who have a criminal record fairly and does not discriminate unfairly against candidates with either a spent or an unspent conviction. At the same time the policy aims to safeguard the Charity, its staff, students, visitors and other service users. The policy sets out the basis on which it will seek information from prospective employees about past spent and unspent convictions, how this information will be used and the way in which it will seek and deal with information relating to offences for posts exempted under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

    SkillForce has posts that require it to check the background of proposed appointments to positions of trust and which are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (see 1. above). Following recent changes organisations are required to use the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) Disclosure Service in order to check the history of applicants and to assist them in assessing candidates’ suitability for such posts. The basis on which such information will be sought and handled is set out in 3. below.

    The basis on which information regarding unspent convictions will be sought and handled for non-exempted jobs is set out in 4. below.

  3. Exempted jobs with a requirement for Disclosure
    As set out in 1. above, there are Instructor and Team Leader posts in SkillForce exempted from the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act that require it to check the prospective employee. Most of these involve regular contact with or the training, supervision, or sole charge of children or young persons under the age of 18 years.

    Applicants for exempted posts will be told that if they are still deemed appointable after interview, they will be subject to a criminal record check from the Criminal Records Bureau whereby information regarding cautions, reprimands, final warnings and convictions will be sought. Candidates invited for interview will be informed in writing that relevant criminal convictions and other associated information will be discussed at interview in order to assess job-related risks. They will be asked to submit, in writing, such information to the interview panel in advance of an interview. They will also be invited to submit any other relevant information that will improve understanding and aid fair decision-making. The main purpose of the interview is to assess the candidate’s suitability against the person specification for the post. However, in this instance it will provide an opportunity to discuss any offences.

    If a candidate is still deemed appointable after the interview, then a Disclosure application will be made to the Criminal Records Bureau under one of three levels of Disclosure. (For most Skill Force posts deemed to be exempt, the level of Disclosure will be enhanced). If this yields information that appears to make the candidate unsuitable for appointment, then the applicant will be informed of the reasons in writing. If there is a lack of clarity in the information received or it appears to contradict that previously submitted by the candidate, then s/he will be invited to discuss this with the Chief Operations Officer and a member of the HR department before a final decision regarding the appointment is made. Only convictions that are relevant to the person’s suitability to perform the job in question will be considered.

  4. Non-exempted jobs
    For non-exempted jobs all job applicants will be informed that if they are shortlisted, relevant unspent criminal convictions and associated information will be discussed at interview. Candidates shortlisted will be encouraged to submit appropriate information to the interview panel on the basis that it will only be considered and discussed at interview if it is relevant to the job.

    Candidates for non-exempted posts will only have criminal convictions considered where these are relevant to the post. Applicants are not required to disclose convictions that are ‘spent’ under the Act. (Cautions, reprimands and final warnings are regarded as spent as soon as they are issued).

    The suitability of a person with a criminal record will vary depending on the nature of the job and the circumstances of the conviction. An assessment of the applicant’s skills, experience and the nature of the convictions should be weighed against the potential risks associated with the job.

    Examples of issues that SkillForce will consider in assessing the relevance of offences to particular jobs include:
    does the post involve one-to-one contact with children, staff, students or visitors?
    – what levels of supervision will the post holder receive?
    – does the post involve any direct responsibility for finance or cash handling?
    – does the post involve contact with the public?
    – will the nature of the job present any opportunities for re-offending?

    The answers to these sorts of questions will help SkillForce determine the relevance of particular offences to particular posts. In carrying out a risk assessment the charity will take into account the following issues.
    -the seriousness of the offence and its relevance to the safety of staff, students, visitors and premises;
    – the length of time since the offence occurred;
    – whether the offence was a one-off or part of a repeated pattern;
    – whether the offence has since been decriminalised;

    When a decision is made not to appoint an individual after unspent criminal offences have been considered, SkillForce will, on request, inform the individual why they were considered to be pertinent.

    Following this process, if an individual is appointed and it subsequently emerges that they had an unspent conviction that was not disclosed, then this will be treated as a serious disciplinary matter and handled and investigated under the relevant SkillForce staff disciplinary procedure.

  5. Existing staff with a criminal record
    If SkillForce has to obtain Disclosure information in relation to existing staff who were not required to disclose conviction information at the time of their appointment and this process reveals a criminal history, then Skill Force will assess whether or not this prevents them continuing in their present job or moving to another job. In carrying out this process Skill Force will examine the factors set out in 4. above. In circumstances where, after an appropriate assessment is carried out, it is deemed that they can not continue in their present job, then SkillForce will examine re-deployment possibilities.
  6. Training of staff
    SkillForce staff involved in leading the recruitment and selection of staff are made aware of this policy and its provisions.
  7. CRB Code of Practice
    A copy of the Criminal Records Bureau’s Code of Practice on the employment of ex-offenders can be obtained by job applicants on request.
  8. Safeguarding Statement
    SkillForce are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expect all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.



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