Should I ask referees to provide information on criminal records?
  • The requester and the referee would both need a lawful basis and condition for processing this data.
  • Based on advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office we do not believe either a referee or a requester would have a lawful basis for providing information in a reference.
  • To remain compliant with data protection law, we advise employers not to ask this question of referees but to include any necessary questions about criminal records in pre-employment checks with preferred candidates.
  • Jobs that are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act will require a standard or enhanced/barring list check as a matter of law, so asking referees to provide this information is unnecessary and potentially risks gathering inaccurate data.
Do I need to tell our insurers that we’re employing somebody with unspent convictions?
  • This will depend on the type of policy you have, and the approach of your insurer.
  • Don’t assume that your insurer needs personal data about an employee with a criminal record – and don’t assume they would prevent you from employing the candidate
  • More information: Dealing with insurance when employing people with convictions [Practical guidance]
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