Helping ex-criminals back to work

Ban the Box

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation has published a criminal records guide designed to support and advise recruiters on best practice for candidates with a criminal conviction.

This includes advice on speaking to candidates about criminal records and a checklist for recruiters.

Over 11 million people in the UK have a criminal record. The majority of them have been convicted on only one occasion and more than 90% of the people convicted each year do not serve a prison sentence. Yet 75% of employers admit to discriminating against applicants with a criminal record and 1 in 7 said that they would exclude any candidate with a criminal conviction, regardless of the offence.

Holding a criminal record should not be a damning indictment on all future job prospects. The vast majority of people who hold a criminal record are good, honest and keen to work and have learnt from their past mistakes.

Employment is a crucial opportunity that reduces the likelihood that an individual will reoffend. Conversely, failure to give employment to people with convictions increases crime and costs society billions of pounds every year.

Removing the barriers faced by people with past convictions will not only provide these candidates with a fair chance at finding employment but broaden the talent pool for recruiters and employers. With candidate shortages across the UK economy, even before the UK has left the EU, UK business can no longer afford to discriminate against such a large talent pool.  

This makes sense for the UK’s society and economy, as well as an individual’s wellbeing.

Recruiters have an important role to play. They are well placed to encourage employers to be as open as possible by raising awareness of inclusive recruitment initiatives like Ban the Box and Fair Chance. The REC’s Good Recruitment Campaign promotes an inclusive approach to recruitment across the board and provides tools to help employers benchmark and reinvigorate their hiring processes.

The REC believes that everyone should be able to pursue their chosen career regardless of their background. Chris Russell, REC policy advisor

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