Case study – Sharmini – Disclosing a conviction in a different way

Sharmini contacted our helpline following the withdrawal of two job offers; one with an insurance company and the other a high street bank.

She told us that during her interviews with both employers she disclosed that she had a motoring conviction and that both employers indicated that this would not be a problem. On the most recent occasion, Sharmini was given a start date and said she had been really looking forward to the challenge of a new role. Immediately after she received her basic criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland she sent it to her potential employers who then contacted her. In her words:-

‘They were surprised by the contents of the disclosure certificate and felt that they had been misled by her explanation at interview. In the circumstances therefore they had no option but to withdraw the job offer’.

To try to get a better understanding of her conviction, we asked Sharmini for further details. She told us that in 2013 she had been convicted of drink-driving after having an accident in her friend’s car. Her friend, unaware that she had taken the car, had reported it stolen and despite informing the police that he did not wish Sharmini to be prosecuted, the police took the decision to charge her not only with drink-driving but also aggravated vehicle taking. In court she received a driving ban together with a 6 month sentence suspended for one year for theft.

We asked Sharmini whether she had explained her offence in this way to the employer. She confirmed that all she’d told them was that she had a motoring conviction because she considered the theft to be linked to the drink-driving charge. She was also concerned that she’d never be given a chance if she mentioned her suspended sentence.

We explained that having listened to her disclosure at interview, the employer would have expected to only see a drink-driving ban on the certificate. What they actually received showed a further conviction which had resulted in a suspended prison sentence. It’s possible therefore that they had taken the view that she had not been totally upfront and honest with them and, as a result of this perceived ‘breakdown’ in trust, they were less likely to let her explain further.

We suggested that although Sharmini may find it hard to disclose her suspended prison sentence, it would (at the moment at least) come to light if an organisation were to do a basic criminal record check. If asked at application or interview, explaining it face to face would give her the opportunity to describe the circumstances that led to the convictions. An employer would hopefully be able to see for themselves how the two offences were linked and that in this situation the ‘aggravated vehicle taking’ probably sounded a lot worse than it actually was.

We told Shamini that having seen a copy of her basic disclosure, she now knew how her criminal record would be presented and she could use this knowledge to her advantage when disclosing it to an employer.

Two months later, Sharmini contacted us again to give us an update. She told us that she’d been for an interview with a financial services company. The job was her dream job with lots of potential for training and promotion. Despite her fears, Sharmini used the information and advice we’d given her and disclosed in full. The company told her they would let her know. Several days later, she was offered the job.

 

Sharmini said:

When I contacted Unlock I’d started to think that I’d never get a job. When the advisor told me that, given my current situation and the type of jobs I was applying for, it was best to disclose everything I couldn’t see any immediate advantages to this. However, the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. At my last interview, I just went for it and told them everything. I really thought I’d blown it but a couple of days later I was offered the job.

 

Ironically, I haven’t been asked to do any formal criminal record checks so I probably could have got away with not telling them about the suspended sentence. However, recently my boss told me that he’d shortlisted two candidates – there was little between us. What swung it for me apparently was my honesty!!’

Lessons

This case shows the importance of a good disclosure be it in writing or verbally. Any vagueness, hesitation or omitting key facts could make you look dishonest. In this case, her convictions were unspent and the employer was doing a basic check, so knowing what that looks like on paper can held an individual to better disclose verbally.

Links

We have information on our self-help information site which looks at disclosing to employers, including how to get a copy of a basic disclosure.

Notes about this case study

This case study relates to our helpline.

Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

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