Even some of ‘best’ employers can improve their application forms

This case involves a well-known employer of people with convictions. They actively support the recruitment of people leaving prison and in the community, but when we took a look at their online application form, we were left with a few questions.

Under the title “CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS (Offender Act 1974)”, the question on their online form asked:

‘Have you been convicted of any criminal offence which are not yet spent under rehabilitation?  Yes/No’

We suggested that the question (or some additional guidance) should make specific reference to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, and although they had an additional statement about how they are “one of the country’s biggest recruiters of ex-offenders“, it would also be useful of explain to applicants how they could work out if/when their convictions are spent, after which point they don’t need to be disclosed.

We were asked to provide some suggested wording for the company to consider and we offered two alternatives for the company’s consideration.

Following in-house meetings, the company amended their wording to:

‘Do you have any unspent convictions? Yes/No’


They provided the additional statement that helps explain this question, and even say:

‘If you’re not sure if your convictions are unspent or spent, you can use a tool available at www.disclosurecalculator.org.uk’


This case shows how even the most proactive organisations can struggle to ask questions around criminal records in the simplest and clearest terms.


Notes about this case study

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