Global manufacturer asking misleading questions on their employment application form

We were contacted recently by an individual who had some concerns about the questions that a global manufacturing company were asking about criminal records on their employment application form. The form stated:

  • “Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offence? (Including motor offences but excluding parking fines)
  • Have you ever received a formal police caution?”

We contacted the company concerned to make them aware that in our opinion, the questions they were asking were misleading for potential applicants. In particular:

  • As there was no guidance or links to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act provided, there may be confusion amongst applicants about whether they needed to disclose their spent cautions or convictions.
  • Individuals with spent cautions/convictions which didn’t legally need to be disclosed may be put off from applying because they believed that they were being asked to disclose them.
  • It was likely that an applicant may disclose more information than was legally necessary, meaning that the manufacturer ran the risk of taking into account something they were not legally allowed to consider.

The company subsequently contacted us informing us they had recently amended their application form and had completely removed the question relating to criminal records from their application form.

Lessons

This case demonstrates how employers should review and update their employment application forms, to ensure that when questions are asked they are clear and concise. Alternatively, they may decide, as in the case of this employer, to remove completely the question which asks about criminal records.

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Christopher Stacey