A new bureau giving employers quick access to job applicants’ criminal
records is very welcome if it can stop the vulnerable in care homes from being
victims of the sort of scandals that have come to light in recent years.
However, research shows that most employers will use the facility simply to
screen out applicants with convictions. This is ironic as firms are likely to
check on criminal records only after they have satisfied themselves that the
candidate is the right person for the job. Employers could be shooting
themselves in the foot if they make a criminal record the sole criteria for
rejecting a candidate.
You would need to be very optimistic to expect employers to embrace their
social responsibility and play their part in the rehabilitation of offenders.
Nevertheless, the Government must act to raise awareness of the issues among
employers. And in organisations, HR has a chance to take a lead in spreading
best practice in a sensitive area.
Where’s the common sense in that?
There are times when equality law seems to creep into areas it was never
intended to cover. It seems harsh, for example, that changes to the sex
discrimination regulations could mean that male executives wooing clients over
a round of golf could leave themselves open to claims of indirect
discrimination against women (top story, right).
If a male employee makes a habit of taking clients to lap dancing clubs to
strike deals, it seems reasonable for female colleagues to object. But banning
business talk on the golf course does seem draconian. It would be nice if
common sense were to prevail but with an army of employment lawyers scouring
the statute books for ammunition we can never be sure.