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How we support employers

Fair treatment of people with criminal records


In 2015 Unlock started a project, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, focused on fair access to employment. A key part of this work is supporting employers to develop and implement fair and inclusive policies and procedures that enable the recruitment of people with criminal records.


Why is this important?

  • Over 10 million people in the UK have a criminal record, with around a quarter of people claiming unemployment benefits having received a criminal record in the last 10 years, and yet 75% of employers discriminate against applicants on the basis of a criminal record.
  • People with irrelevant criminal records are, as a result, often discouraged from applying for jobs.
  • However, employers cannot afford to ignore the diverse talent of people with criminal records.


Our approach

  • Supporting
    • We support and educate employers to help them to develop and implement fair and inclusive practices towards people with criminal records.
  • Challenging
    • Where necessary, we are a critical friend to employers, asking questions about the impact of policies and approaches on people with criminal records and offering alternatives.


How we can help

  • Advice & Support
    • We work closely with larger employers that are looking to develop significantly fairer and more inclusive ‘whole-organisation’ policies and practices.
    • This support will vary depending on your organisation, but can include support for senior leaders and working in partnership.
    • We work closely with established employer networks such as the ‘Employers Forum for Reducing Reoffending’ and the ‘Ban the Box’ network of employers.
    • Our advice and support is part of a project supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, so it’s at no cost to employers.
  • Resources
  • Training

Issues we help with

We support employers in dealing with questions employers often ask themselves such as:

  • Should we ask about criminal records, and if so, how should we ask?
  • How do we make sure we don’t discourage suitable applicants from applying?
  • How do we decide whether we should employ somebody with a criminal record?
  • What legal issues do we need to be aware of?


For more information

Visit Recruit!, our website for employers.

In particular, there’s a dedicated section on how we support employers.

If you have any questions, you can contact Rachel Tynan, who leads our support for employers.


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12 million people have criminal records in the UK. We need your help to help them.

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