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“Employers have an exaggerated fear of employing ex-offenders” says Business in the Community

"Employers have an exaggerated fear of employing ex-offenders” says Business in the Community.
  • 25 employers with a combined workforce of 200,000 have banned the criminal conviction ‘tick box’ from application forms in first year of Business in the Community’s Ban the Box campaign in the UK

  • Much more to be done to make fair consideration of criminal convictions the norm: if just 5% of UK private sector employers followed the lead of the pioneering few, over a million roles would be made accessible.

The charity Business in the Community is calling on more UK employers to remove the criminal record disclosure tick box from application forms – as part of its Ban the Box campaign, launched a year ago in response to widespread discrimination against job-seeking ex-offenders.

25 employers, with a combined workforce of over 200,000 have removed the criminal record tick box from their recruitment process over the past year, enabling ex-offenders to compete fairly for roles based on an assessment of their skills first. These employers, who come from a range of sectors, now benefit from a wider pool of talent while also contributing towards reducing the estimated £11 billion annual cost of reoffending.

Yet Business in the Community says too few employers are taking action to make their workforces accessible to the 1 in 5 unemployed jobseekers with a criminal conviction due to exaggerated fear; misunderstanding of legal requirements surrounding conviction disclosure; and the belief that the tick box helps to prevent risk to the organisation and employees.

“Business has a huge opportunity and responsibility to make the workplace more accessible to talented ex-offenders that simply want to contribute their skills to society” said Catherine Sermon, Employment Director, Business in the Community. “Yet too many companies have an exaggerated fear of recruiting people with criminal convictions and a misconception that employing them is risky business.”

“Removing the tick box doesn’t remove disclosure. It simply moves asking about convictions to later in the recruitment process – assessing candidates on their suitability, skills and ability first. If just 5% of UK private sector employers removed the tick box, over a million roles would be more accessible to ex-offenders. We are urging many more employers to join the 25 pioneering firms who have committed to Ban the Box this year.”

Michael who has criminal convictions and is now employed by construction and support services firm Carillion as a team leader, said: “People with criminal convictions face so many hurdles; removing the tick box from application forms takes one of those hurdles away. It gives people the incentive and motivation that they can get a job because their application will be considered on its strengths. Employers with the tick box are shutting the door to some people with the skills, motivation and potential to be great employees, but who have made mistakes in the past. My employer Carillion has been so supportive. All I needed was a chance to show what I could do and I’ve been given that. I’m keen to keep progressing and want to stay here long-term. Businesses that Ban the Box really will benefit as much as people like me.”

Janet Dawson, HR Director, Carillion plc said: “It is so important to maintain a steady flow of skilled, engaged people into our workforce and promote opportunities within our business to a wider pool of talent.  Not having a criminal record tick box is one of the ways we meet this aim. Of course we want to monitor and manage the recruitment of people with criminal convictions, but we also want to show through our recruitment process that we give opportunities to different groups of people that bring alternative views and perspectives into the workplace. We’re proud to be one of the pioneering companies to adopt Ban the Box.”

Business in the Community is calling for employers to:

  • Remove the tick box requesting information on unspent criminal convictions from online and paper job application processes.

  • Examine recruitment policies and practices to identify how disclosure of criminal convictions can be moved further down the application process. Best practice examples available at www.bitc.org.uk/banthebox

  • Publically declare their commitment to offering fair opportunities for ex-offenders to compete for jobs by registering as a Ban the Box employer at www.bitc.org.uk/BTBregistration

It is not calling for any changes to the checks and processes that are legally required when recruiting for “regulated” roles as defined by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), such as jobs with children or vulnerable adults.

Following their early adoption of Ban the Box, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP has generously committed to support the growth and development of the campaign in its second year in order to inform and inspire more employers.

People affected by their criminal record or supportive of the campaign can share their views by signing the petition at www.change.org/banthebox

For more information about Ban the Box visit www.bitc.org.uk/banthebox and follow the #BantheBoxUK on Twitter.

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