While a criminal record is often seen as a barrier to getting work, more and more employers are thinking twice. There are plenty of good workers who have a record, and who may have turned their lives around completely since then. If they have the skills, is it right to deny them a chance because of their past? Consider these seven factors before making a decision.
1. How long ago was it?
If their conviction was twenty years ago, and they have managed to stay out of trouble since then, it might be a good indication that they have reformed their life. If they have been in prison for the whole time, that might be a different story! Consider how much time has passed since their punishment to get an idea of whether they are now a different person.
2. How severe was their offense?
If they committed a petty crime, such as shoplifting a low-value item, you might consider this a lot differently to a serious crime like murder. The degree of severity will definitely have an impact on whether you now feel they can be trusted to return to the world of work. Don’t forget that you also have other employees to think about: will they feel safe, knowing that there is someone in their midst who once knifed another person in an argument?
3. What kind of offense did they commit?
There are some kinds of offence you may want to look closely at. Fraud and theft, for example, might indicate that your potential new hire will end up defrauding or stealing from your company. Assault, murder, or other violent crimes may indicate a temper that you do not want to expose customers to. On the other hand, you may feel there are some crimes which are not relevant to the work they will do for you, and which would not indicate whether or not they are fit for the position.
4. Are you legally able to hire them?
Consider legal issues that might come into play if you do hire this person. Some industries do not allow the hire of people with criminal records, while others require you to do stringent checks. If you are not sure about whether it is okay for you to hire them, check with a lawyer before you make any decisions.
5. What do their references say?
If the applicant has been in employment since their criminal offense, you may wish to talk to their references. A previous manager will be able to give you some information about their temperament and how they are able to integrate into the workforce.
6. Will it affect their work?
This question may be something that you can answer already without doing any further investigation. If the employee will be working alone, for example, you can say with a degree of certainty that previous violent convictions won’t be a problem. If you know they will always be supervised, then you might not worry about a theft conviction. But if they have a theft conviction and will be working alone, you might have to introduce a new supervision policy – which will be difficult.
7. Can you take a chance?
Finally, can you afford to take a chance on them? Helping former criminals to start again and live a life on the straight and narrow is an important societal duty. If you can, maybe you should.
With these questions answered, you should know whether you should be hiring a candidate with a criminal record. Refer back to these considerations any time the issue comes up in the future!
Lucy Taylor is an avid blogger who enjoys sharing her tips and suggestions with her online readers. Working as a legal expert at LY Lawyers, Lucy often helps people dealing with legal problems, addictions and crime.