We were contacted by an individual after the decision of a major supermarket to revoke a job offer for a delivery driver job following disclosure of a conviction which had come to light as a result of a basic criminal record check.
The individual confirmed that prior to applying for the job he had checked to see the status of his conviction and had been told that it was spent under the ROA and that he had no legal requirement to disclose. So he was confused as to why his conviction was now appearing on his basic certificate. Part of the disposal had been a compensation order which he had paid immediately upon conviction. He had provided Disclosure Scotland with confirmation of the payment. We contacted Disclosure Scotland on his behalf and were asked to provide them with copies of all previous correspondence and evidence of the payment. Following a thorough investigation, Disclosure Scotland accepted that a ‘technical error’ had occurred and were happy to reissue him with a ‘clean’ certificate and a letter to the supermarket confirming that the disclosure had been a mistake on their part.
We contacted the supermarket with this new information and they were able to confirm that once they’d had sight of the new certificate, they would be able to offer him a new start date.
During the course of this though, we noticed something. At the time the individual had applied for the job, their online recruitment application form stated that:
‘As part of the recruitment process, a background check to verify your identity and a CRB check will be carried out by an authorised third party’
When the individual was made aware that something had been disclosed on his criminal record certificate, he was concerned that the supermarket may have done a higher level of check (e.g. standard or enhanced, not basic), and although this hadn’t been the case, it did flag up to us a potential issue.
So, we contacted the supermarket explaining that the CRB no longer existed as an organisation and setting out the problems arising when an employer does not make it clear what level of criminal record check they will be carrying out. For example:-
- There can be confusion amongst applicants about whether they need to disclose or not.
- People with offences that don’t need to be disclosed may be put off from applying because they believe they’re being asked to disclose them.
- More information than necessary might be disclosed, running the risk that the employer might take into account something that they’re not legally allowed to consider.
This supermarket took on board the issues we had raised and now have the following question on their form:
‘Do you have any unspent convictions (this includes overseas unspent convictions) as defined in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act? For further details on this see http://hub.unlock.org.uk/knowledgebase/detailedguideroa/’
This case shows that many organisations struggle with asking the right questions about criminal records in clear and simple terms.
- We have guidance about the wording of questions that employers should use.