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Amazon, if you ban all applicants with unspent convictions then you’re missing out on a huge amount of talent

Visit Amazon’s website and you’ll read this “We are passionate about creating a diverse workforce to reflect our global customer base and ensure we have diverse perspectives”. Unfortunately, Marc’s experiences of this diversity and inclusivity were very different.


Back in 2015 I received a conviction for offences against my wife (common assault and harassment) which resulted in a prison sentence of 23 months.

My actions were totally out of character and I feel shame and remorse for the way I behaved. I don’t want to be seen as someone that can’t take responsibility for their actions or as somebody that’s just making excuses but at the time I was suffering from undiagnosed PTSD which led to my lack of judgement and irrational behaviour.

The time I spent in prison enabled me to seek help for my PTDS and I left prison better able to deal with the things that had contributed to my offending behaviour.

On leaving prison, I applied for many jobs with little success but managed to get by working in a variety of short term, temporary posts. However, earlier this year I saw a driving job advertised with Amazon. It was an ideal job for me, I loved driving and I had no problem working on my own.

I was delighted to get an interview and knowing that Amazon would carry out a basic DBS check if I was successful, I took the opportunity to disclose my conviction during the interview. This didn’t seem to be a problem for the interviewer and a week later I received a job offer.

I’d been working for the company for approximately 3 weeks when I was telephoned by HR informing me that they had received my basic DBS certificate and that my contract was being terminated due to the information which had been disclosed on it.

To start with I thought they’d made a mistake. I’d assumed that the basic DBS certificate would only be used by Amazon to verify what I’d already told them. But sadly, it was no joke and when I received the formal letter in the post it stated that I was being dismissed for

Gross misconduct for failing to pass a background check.

I tried to appeal Amazon’s decision but my appeal failed.

I’ve subsequently discovered that Amazon have a blanket ban on the recruitment of people with unspent convictions so it was a dot on the card that my appeal wouldn’t be successful.

I loved the time I spent at Amazon (albeit only 3 weeks) and felt proud being part of their team. Although I don’t agree with their blanket ban on recruiting people with unspent convictions, I would have preferred to know from the outset that my application was never going to be progressed. I feel as though I’ve wasted a month of my life when I could have spent the time applying to an employer with more inclusive values.

By Marc (name changed to protect identity)

A comment from Unlock

This is not the first time Unlock has heard of individuals being dismissed by Amazon for failing a DBS check, despite disclosing unspent convictions during the recruitment process. We are concerned at the implication that applicants can either pass or fail a DBS check, this is certainly not the case – it is the responsibility of the employer to decide who they employ and whether a conviction is relevant to the job they are doing.

As part of our Fair Access to Employment project we have tried to engage with Amazon to encourage them to implement fair and inclusive policies that support the recruitment of people with convictions, without success.

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