New law could prompt rise in criminal bias

The CIPD has warned employers to be sensitive in dealing with staff
information when a law allowing them access to criminal records is introduced
next year.

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggests that provisions in the
Police Act (1997), which take effect in 2002, could increase discrimination
against offenders and increase the chance of them re-offending.

Dianah Worman, adviser on diversity to the CIPD, said, "The research
shows that recruiting offenders is something employers are not comfortable

"The availability of records will mean employers will have to become
more efficient in dealing with information sensitively and making judgements on
the relevance of offences."

Currently employers are not permitted to check applicants’ criminal records
unless the job involves working with children or has security implications.

When the Police Act (1997) is fully implemented it will give all employers
access to criminal records of job applicants.

"Employers have not been used to dealing with this kind of information
and these records will show all kinds of convictions, which could throw
them," said Worman.

The survey shows that seven in 10 employers would ask for a disclosure and
that a significant number would be unwilling to recruit even those with
convictions for minor offences.

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