Off the record – reforms to employment law & rehabilitation of offenders

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Posted in:HR and Employment|March 31, 2014 | Join the mailing list

The law recognises that if everyone who has ever been convicted of a criminal offence is always required to reveal that conviction to their employer if they are asked, then this will result in far higher unemployment amongst offenders and in turn is likely
to lead to higher rates of re-offending.

As a consequence, there is legislation in place which means that certain convictions end up being regarded as “spent” after particular periods of time have elapsed. This means that the offender does not have to disclose the spent conviction and will be able
to bring an unfair dismissal claim if their employment is ended, either because they committed the offence or because they failed to disclose the conviction to their employer.

Legislation in respect of this has been in place for many years now, but on 10 March 2014 new laws came into effect which altered, in certain cases, when a conviction will become a “spent” one, and employers need to be aware of these changes.

In relation to offences for which a custodial sentence was imposed (and irrespective of whether or not that sentence was a suspended one), the length of time after which the conviction becomes a spent one now runs from the date when the sentence is completed
(including any time spent on parole). The time periods vary with the length of the custodial sentence and are as set out below:

·    sentence of six months or less – conviction becomes spent 24 months after the sentence is completed;

·    sentence of more than six months but not more than 30 months – conviction becomes spent 48 months after the sentence is completed;

·    sentence of more than 30 months but not more than 48 months  – conviction becomes spent seven years after the sentence is completed;

·    sentence of more than 48 months (or a life sentence) – conviction does not become spent at any time.

Reduced periods apply where the offender was under the age of 18 when he or she was convicted of the offence and there are also different rules which apply where a conviction results in a non-custodial sentence, such as a fine or community rehabilitation order.

There are also certain professions and occupations where different rules apply and where offenders do not have the same protection in relation to having a criminal conviction or failing to disclose it.

For England and Wales, those professions, jobs, offices and occupations are listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975, and that piece of legislation has been amended and expanded over time since it was first introduced.

Examples of the positions which are currently covered by these different rules include health professionals; those involved in regulated activities with children; positions involving caring for vulnerable adults; solicitors, barristers and legal executives;
dealers in firearms; accountants; and HM Revenue & Customs commissioners, amongst others. It should be noted, however, that this list is only a selection of examples of those covered by the legislation and the actual list in the legislation itself is considerably

For more information about any of the above or for practical commercial advice on this or any other aspect of employment law, please contact
Nigel Crebbin of the Berg Employment Team on 0161 833 9211 or email him at

Follow us at Twitter: @BergHR.

(The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Berg or any of its partners or employees. Professional legal advice should
be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.) 

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