Getting Started

Getting Started

Taking the first step

So, you’re thinking of employing people with convictions, but you’re not sure quite where to begin. Or not entirely sure you should.

Well, we’ve addressed some of the common myths HERE.

As the Alliance grows, we’ll create our own library of resources, in partnership with friends and allies from the commercial and third sectors, to guide employers through every step they need to take to address each tier of our Fair Chance Charter. But for now, here are our thoughts (below) on the most important principles you’ll want to think about, with links to some of our favourite advice from experts already doing great work in this field.

Fair Chance Principles

Our friends at Unlock researched and devised eight Fair Chance principles for hiring people with convictions. Here’s our short summary version – but for chapter and verse you’ll want to visit their website, where explain how and why each one matters.

Note: All of the information about the law applies to England and Wales only – provisions in Scotland and Northern Ireland are often similar but sometimes vary.

Do you need to know about an applicant’s criminal record? Why? It’s sometimes legally necessary, but mostly not, and if it isn’t relevant, why do you need to know

If your risk management process says you do need to collect criminal record information, you’ll need to evidence why, have a written policy, and follow the law. The Data Protection Act (2018) and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) or ROA and the Police Act (1997), are all key pieces of legislation.

Data protection law requires that you collect no more personal data than is necessary. If you’re not going to hire someone, you don’t need to know – so at what point in your recruitment process to ask? See Ban The Box.

The rules around disclosure are complicated. Be clear and precise – for both HR and the applicant – about what information you do and don’t need. Under the ROA, there may be information the law does not allow you to know.

Decisions you make about disclosure, including how you record and manage applicant information, must be documented, well understood and applied. Don’t “copy and paste it” – write your own Criminal records policy.

If you require disclosure for a role, give the candidate the chance to explain their record in their own words. This also provides an opportunity for you to ask specific, relevant questions based on their disclosure and address any discrepancies between their disclosure and a DBS report.

Keep a record of the recruitment process, including clear notes on how, if at all, a disclosure affected a hiring decision.

Training for HR staff, and wider awareness for colleagues, is essential to protect you, your team and your new applicant. It’s one of the reasons why we started the Alliance!

Other useful resources

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