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Penny – Sometimes you need to be brave and ask an employer to justify their decisions

Disappointed to hear that her job offer had been revoked, Penny had nothing to lose by asking the employer to review their decision.

Unlock had previously worked with Penny in early 2021 when we assisted her in making an application to come off the adult and children’s barred lists. She had been barred following a conviction in 2011 for common assault. On receipt of her representation, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) removed her from both lists.

In October 2022 Penny was offered a job as a support worker for young adults with learning difficulties. She disclosed her conviction and the employer applied for her enhanced DBS check. Penny completed all her pre-employment training and was looking forward to starting work with the company.

Three hours before the start of her first shift she was contacted by her line manager and told that due to the conviction on her DBS certificate, the company were withdrawing the job offer. Contacting the Unlock helpline for advice Penny said:

“I’ve worked so hard to get off the barred lists and I was completely honest and upfront about my conviction but now I’ve lost my job. I’m heartbroken.”

Penny explained to the helpline advisor that disclosing her conviction had been extremely difficult especially as it was linked to an abusive and controlling relationship with her ex-husband. Reflecting on the interview she stated:

“I felt like I was being interrogated. I was crying, my throat was tight and I was having difficulty breathing. It feels like the more honest I am, the worse I’m treated.”

The advisor listened to Penny allowing her time to talk about the recruitment process. Penny had never hidden the fact that she had a conviction and her DBS certificate only served to verify the information she had already disclosed. The advisor suggested that Penny write to the Head of Care at the organisation asking them to reconsider their decision to revoke the job offer.

Several weeks later Penny got in touch again to say the employer had reconsidered their decision and had reinstated her.

“Thank you so much for encouraging me to write to the employer. I don’t think I would have gone through with it by myself.”


Notes about this case

  1. This case relates to Unlock’s helpline.
  2. We have practical guidance on disclosing criminal records to an employer.
  3. Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

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