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Category: Poor recruitment

Help us to challenge employment discrimination

Work is progressing well to lay the foundations for our project to challenge employment discrimination. We’re now at the stage where we want to start opening out the conversation, to help to shape the project.

This update is the first of what we hope will be an ongoing conversation – with employers, with people with convictions, and with others who have an interest in ensuring that employers have fair and inclusive policies and procedures that support the recruitment of people with convictions.

There’s a number of things we’re working on, and we’re keen to get your input.


  1. Help us develop good practice and resources for employers
  2. Send us evidence of bad practice
  3. How would you like to be treated when applying for work?

Help us develop good practice and resources for employers

One of the key focuses of the project is to support employers in developing good policies and practices. One way we’re going about this by developing a resource centre specifically for employers.

So, we’re going back to basics. We want to make sure that we support employers who choose to consider criminal records by helping them to do so in a way that is fair, inclusive and lawful. However, we also want to challenge the inappropriate use of criminal records and to question the assumption amongst some employers that criminal records checks should always form part of their recruitment process in all circumstances.

To help us do this, we want to know what you think ‘good practice’ looks like.

We’re keen to get the thoughts of a range of people. We’re particularly keen to hear from employers about what you would find useful in helping you in this process. We’re keen to highlight the different ways that employers have tried to make themselves more open and inclusive towards people with convictions. We’re also looking for suggestions of existing resources that you’ve found useful.

We’ve put together a short set of questions, and we’d be grateful if you could spare a few minutes to share your thoughts (you can stay anonymous if you wish).

Complete the online survey here.

Alternatively, you can read the questions here and email your answers and other thoughts on this topic to

Send us evidence of bad practice

Alongside our work to support employers to develop good practice, we’re also on the look-out for evidence of bad practice by employers with regards to the policies and processes that they have in place for job applicants with criminal records.

This could include employers that:

  1. Have a blanket policy of not recruiting anybody with unspent convictions
  2. Carry out DBS checks for roles not eligible for them
  3. Request applicants to provide a copy of their ‘police record’ (also known as ‘enforced subject access’)
  4. Don’t give applicants an opportunity to explain their criminal record

Find out more details here about how to send us examples and evidence of bad practice.

How would you like to be treated when applying for work?

Alongside our survey of employers, we’re also keen to hear from people with convictions about how they’d like to be treated when applying for work.

In particular, we’d like to know what you think is a ‘fair’ way of dealing with criminal records as part of the recruitment process.

To do this we’ve put together a short survey for people with convictions.

You can complete the survey online survey here (you can stay anonymous if you wish).

Alternatively, you can read the questions here and email your answers to


Interesting in keeping updated about this work?

You can subscribe to receive these types of updates by email by signing up to our email updates and choosing to receive ‘News on our work challenging employment discrimination’.

Employers – New criminal offence; make sure you check your recruitment processes!

Tomorrow, the 10th March 2015, a new criminal offence of ‘enforced subject access’ comes into force, which employers and organisations need to be aware of.

This news has implications on the recruitment processes of employers and organisations. In particular, it has an impact on those that ask individuals to obtain a copy of their police record, for example as part of the recruitment process.

To help to understand the practical implications of this news, and what employers should do, we’ve produced a simple guidance leaflet which explains this in more detail.

We have also produced guidance for individuals with convictions. A link to this, and more background information, can be found in our main news piece.

If you have any questions about this as an employer, you can contact us for advice.

Have you been blocked from working in probation/prison because of your criminal record?

You should be able to find out more about this below. Depending on your settings, you may have to click on this link.

One year into the Ban the Box campaign; pioneering employers change their practice, but more must follow their lead

Business in the Community’s Ban the Box campaign, which Unlock actively supports, has reached its one year anniversary. It was launched in October 2013 in response to widespread and costly discrimination against people with convictions who are seeking work.

So far 24 employers, with a combined UK workforce of over 200,000, have committed to support the campaign. They assess jobseekers on their skills and abilities first, taking criminal convictions into account later in the recruitment process. This gives candidates equal opportunity to get to interview based on their competency for a role rather than excluding them because of an unrelated conviction. And employers benefit from a wider pool of diverse talent and contribute towards reducing the estimated £11 billion annual cost of re-offending.

But when 1 in 5 unemployed jobseekers has a criminal conviction, much more must be done to ensure that a tick box approach is not blocking them from work. Ban the Box isn’t about positive discrimination, or removing disclosure altogether. It is the first step that all responsible employers can take to level the playing field for people with convictions whilst still protecting themselves from risk.

“In the last year, we’ve seen real benefits to individuals who are simply trying to do the right thing by getting a job and becoming taxpayers. The employers who have signed up give people with convictions the confidence to apply” said Christopher Stacey, Co-Director of Unlock. “People with convictions simply want a fair chance to provide they’re the best person for the job, and that’s what Ban the Box is all about. And the end result is that employers have the best possible opportunity to recruit the best people. But people with convictions continue to face widespread blanket attitudes by many employers. That’s why, in the year ahead, we’ll be doing to more to encourage employers to support this campaign. We’ll also be doing more to work alongside employers to help them to develop and implement positive recruitment practices.”

“Business has a huge opportunity and responsibility to make the workplace more accessible to ex-offenders that simply want to contribute their skills to society” said Catherine Sermon, Employment Director, Business in the Community. “24 pioneering firms have banned the box and ask about convictions later in the recruitment process – sending the message that they value applicants’ skills and potential over past mistakes. If just 5% of UK private sector employers followed their lead, over a million roles would be more accessible to ex-offenders. Now is the time to dramatically improve the life chances for the huge numbers of people with convictions and make fair consideration of criminal convictions the norm.”

You can find out more information about Unlock’s support for employers here.

Visit for more information about Ban the Box. Follow the campaign at #BantheBoxUK

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