Employers could soon find it difficult to access the criminal records of prospective staff for offences that happened more than two years ago.
Delegates at the CIPD Parole to Payroll conference heard that plans being considered as part of a government review of criminal record disclosure could result in the minimum period being cut from six years to two years.
The review of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act will take into account concerns that ex-offenders could struggle to find jobs following the introduction of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), giving employers easy access to the records of all job applicants.
Sue Jago, leader of the Home Office review of the ROA, set to be completed in June, said that reducing the minimum disclosure period made sense.
She said: "New disclosure periods will reflect the period in which an ex-offender is most likely to offend. If a former offender has not re-offended in two years then they are less likely to do so."
Jago confirmed that the 10-year disclosure period was unlikely to change for ex-offenders with violent and sexual convictions and for jobs that involve working with children or vulnerable adults.
"The move may seem alarming to employers and we do not want organisations to take undue risks.
"If an individual is not suitable for employment then during that high risk period you are entitled to all the information," said Jago.
Currently only employers which employ staff responsible for children or vulnerable adults can use the CRB's disclosure service to check criminal records but soon every employer will be able to use its service.
All companies will be able to ask job applicants to apply for the minimum level of disclosure, known as basic, which will include details of recorded offences over the past six years.