Parliament Committee recommends Government consider a statutory “ban the box”

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The problem

Many employers have unfair and discriminatory policies, procedures and practices that unfairly exclude people with convictions. This gets in the way of people with convictions becoming positive, productive members of society and means that, instead, they cost society by being unemployed or underemployed.

What we think needs to change

We believe that employers should have fair and inclusive policies and procedures that support the recruitment of people with convictions.

To achieve this, we believe there needs to be changes in government policy and changes in attitudes and practices by employers.

Changes in government policy

There needs to be a national policy for the employment of people with a criminal record.

Government should pilot financial incentives for those employers who actively employ people with convictions.

Government should incorporate the employment of people with convictions in procurement and commissioning decisions.

DWP should develop guidance to help employers recruit people with convictions. This should include practical information on spent and unspent convictions, insurance and how to recruit to different roles. It should also include businesses who have already employed people with convictions and what support they can provide to other employers.

Government should extend Ban the Box to all public bodies, with exclusions for the minority of roles where it would not be appropriate for security reasons.

Government should consider making banning the box a statutory requirement for all employers.

Changes in attitudes and practices by employers

Alongside changes in government policy, there’s a role for more proactive and positive business practice when dealing with the recruitment of people with a criminal record. For example, the ‘Ban the Box’ initiative aims to deal with a common problem amongst mainstream employers – the use of ‘tick boxes’ about convictions on application forms as a way of determining an applicants’ suitability.

The approach of this initiative enables people with convictions to put themselves forward first and foremost on an equal playing field and competing for jobs on their skills and merit. Early indications show the potential for such positive practice to be adopted as a matter of routine, and alongside working with employers, we are working to embed this into recruitment practice across all Government departments and agencies. We are keen for the UK Government to follow the US example by looking to write this kind of practice into employment law.

We will be working on this issue as part of our fair access to employment project and, in particular, through our website for employers

What we’re doing

We are working with government to support changes in government policy towards the employment of people with convictions.

As part of our fair access to employment project, we are working to achieve improvements at both an individual employer level and at a broader sector level. :

  • Supporting larger employers in implementing significantly fairer and more inclusive policies and procedures. Case studies are on our website for employers.
  • Developing and maintaining Recruit!, a website for employers and recruitment professionals
  • Challenging employers who act unfairly and/or unlawfully, improving their practices as a result. Case studies are on our website for employers.

We are also challenging employers who breach the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act by carrying out unlawful criminal record checks or unlawfully take into account spent convictions. Find out more about this work.

Our approach to employers

Our approach to employers as part of our fair access to employment project is outlined here.

How we support employers

How we can support employers is explained here. This sits within Recruit!, our website for employers.

Case studies

We publish case studies of employers we’ve worked with.

Latest news

See the bottom of this page for our latest posts about supporting and challenging employers.

You can also find below the latest from Twitter, using the hashtag #FairChanceUK (although we cannot endorse what gets displayed here).

For more information

  1. For employers – We have information about how we support employers 
  2. For employers – We have developed a dedicated website for employers
  3. Practical self-help information for people with convictions  – We have guidance on looking for employment on our information site
  4. Personal experiences – We have posts relating to our work supporting and challenging employers on our online magazine, theRecord
  5. Discuss this issue – Share your views and experiences on our online forum
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