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Criminal Records Checks for Employees

Changes to disclosure of Criminal Records

From Monday 10th March 2014 the length of time that a previous offender must declare their previous convictions to a new employer has been reduced.

The basic position is that those who are convicted of a criminal offence and who have not re-offended should not have to disclose their convictions to new employers after a period of time has passed. This is known as the conviction becoming ‘spent’.

There are various exceptions for particular job roles, such as those working with children or vulnerable people where convictions should always be disclosed. In addition to this, offences which are classed as serious must always be disclosed and will never become ‘spent’.

Prior to the recent change serious offences included any offence for which the person received a prison sentence of more than two and a half years. Now this has been increased to four years. Despite this increase any conviction for specified sexual or violent offences will still never become spent.

As a result of the changes the obligation upon employees to disclose their convictions when applying for a job has changed.

The new rehabilitation periods are (for offenders over 18):

Custodial sentence between 2 ½ – 4 years = 7 years from completion of sentence becomes spent

Custodial sentence between 6 months – 2 ½ years = 4 years

Custodial sentence up to 6 months = 2 years

Fine = 1 year

For young offenders (under 18 at date of conviction):

Custodial sentence 2 ½ – 4 years = 3 ½ years from completion of sentence becomes spent

Custodial sentence between 6 months – 2 ½ years = 2 years

Custodial sentence up to 6 months = 18 months

Fine = 6 months

Asking about Criminal Records?

If you are unsure about whether you can require a prospective or existing employee to disclose their criminal record history I recommend that you seek advice as to whether the role is an exempt position in the first instance. Exempt positions require disclosure regardless of whether the conviction is spent.

I am happy to discuss your concerns with you on a confidential basis and I can be contacted on 01983 897003, 023 8098 2006 or by email

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The information contained in this blog post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time it is written. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

The guidance should not be relied upon in any decision making process. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.

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