Ex-offender charity Nacro has called for the introduction of a new licensing authority to stamp out discrimination resulting from criminal record checks.
A report released today calls on the government to take urgent ssteps to reform the way people with criminal records are treated in the labour market, by introducing an independent licensing authority which would hold ultimate responsibility for clearing people for employment.
The report – Getting Disclosures Right: A review of the use and misuse of criminal record disclosures – highlights how, under the current system, people who are not a risk to children or vulnerable adults are being refused employment, suspended and dismissed on the basis of wholly irrelevant cautions or convictions.
It uncovers widespread discrimination against people who have a criminal record – even where the nature of their offence means that they would pose no risk – across the public, voluntary and private sector.
Paul Cavadino, chief executive of Nacro, said: “It is vital to have an effective system to protect children and vulnerable adults from those who are a risk to them. However, far too many people with past cautions or convictions for minor non-sexual offences are being unfairly refused jobs.
“A job applicant who was convicted of shoplifting as a teenager but has since matured could prove an excellent care worker. It is absurd to bar them from such work, treating them on a par with a sex offender.”
Last year nearly 15,000 of the 20,000 calls to Nacro’s helpline were enquiries about criminal record disclosures.
“Too many employers are making discriminatory, unreasonable and in some cases illegal decisions based on completely irrelevant convictions”, he said.
Key recommendations of the report include:
Introduction of an independent licensing authority which would hold ultimate responsibility for clearing people with criminal records for employment
Strengthening the powers of the Criminal Records Bureau to take action against employers who breach the Disclosure Code of Practice by running checks on posts that are not eligible for checking
Reform of the law on unfair dismissal. Under current legislation if you are employed for less than a year and are dismissed from your job you cannot usually claim unfair dismissal. Nacro wants to see an amendment to enable people with spent convictions to claim unfair dismissal.