Davina contacted us for some assistance with an employment dispute.
She had been employed as a dental receptionist having been recruited by a friend (who was the Practice Manager). The manager was aware of her previous convictions which included shoplifting and driving offences but as the recruitment process was very informal, Davina wasn’t asked to disclose them on any application forms nor at interview.
Whilst working at the Practice, the CQC undertook an unannounced visit where it was discovered that the Practice hadn’t undertaken DBS checks for any of its employees. They were told that this had to be done and the CQC would arrange a further visit at a later date. Davina agreed to an enhanced check, (although she did not believe that her position within the Practice required this). She felt that as her convictions were very old and not relevant then they would not affect her role at the Practice. Before the certificate was returned to her, she was diagnosed with cancer and was signed off sick from work.
Whilst on sick leave, she was contacted by her employer to say that due to an office reorganisation she was being made redundant. She was not offered any alternative position. Davina believed the redundancy was as a result of her illness and decided to take her employers to an Employment Tribunal.
At the first Hearing, her employer told the Panel that Davina had been chosen for redundancy as a result of a reorganisation. When it became evident that the Hearing was going in Davina’s favour, her employer stated that following receipt of her DBS check (which had come back with previous convictions), a CQC Inspector had stated that these were ‘not acceptable’ and that Davina should be asked to leave.
When Davina spoke to us she had been given a date for her Final Hearing and wanted to know whether she should have disclosed her previous convictions on application.
We confirmed that anybody responding to an advertisement which does not state whether a job is covered or exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act should disclose nothing, if their convictions are spent. We advised Davina that in our experience, the CQC rarely forced employees to dismiss employees with convictions which were not relevant to the work they were doing. We contacted the CQC and were able to speak directly to the inspector who had visited the Practice. He confirmed categorically that he had not insisted that the Practice sack Davina and agreed to put this in a written statement.
Details of these discussions and were passed to Davina and her advocate for use at the Hearing.
Davina contacted us immediately the Tribunal was over to let us know that it had gone very well and that she had won the case.
‘I was initially disappointed that Unlock were unable to represent me at the Employment Tribunal but I understand why that was the case. However, Debbie did everything she could possibly have done to gather information to support me and I am sure that the statement from the CQC inspector was the real turning point. Thank you so much for everything Unlock. I feel that justice was done.’
This case shows how an employer might sometimes use a criminal record as an excuse, but that once you know your rights, you can stand up for yourself and challenge this.
We have information on our self-help information site which look at criminal convictions and employment law.
Notes about this case study
This case study relates to Unlock’s helpline.
Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.