The idea of employing someone with a criminal record is something that polarises much of the recruitment industry. Many people would view hiring a person who has spent time in prison and is a ‘criminal’ as ludicrous! After all, what if they re-offend on the job?

YOUR job would be on the line and you could have potentially put others at risk.

Not only this, there’s the concern that even if they re-offend outside of work time, this could result in you losing a member of staff and having to repeat the recruiting process unnecessarily, which is far from an ideal situation.

It’s not as risky as you think

Truth be told, the risk involved in hiring someone with a blot on their record is considerably lower than you might think. This is especially true if their history is limited to one misdemeanour, or perhaps a juvenile record.

Whilst it might be wise to raise concerns over an unmentioned criminal past, if someone has been honest enough to own up to their past, it seems counter intuitive to punish their honesty by throwing out their application upon reading their admission.

While possessing a criminal record is less than the ideal, demonstrating honesty and a willingness to own up to mistakes could outweigh the negative implications of having a record in the first place.

In fact, looking at the results from this survey by Career Builder, where 51% of HR Managers have hired someone with a criminal record, we can see that it is not that rare a situation after all.

As well as this, there is the legal tangle of refusing to hire someone based on their past. Obviously, if their offending is directly related to the role at hand – for instance, someone with a history of sexual offending looking to be hired for a healthcare role – then you are well within your legal rights to refuse to consider them.

However if you are simply turning someone down because they ticked the ‘yes’ box under the question ‘Do you have any Criminal Convictions?’ then you’re putting yourself at risk of receiving a discrimination complaint/lawsuit.

A different way of looking at it

One business owner that has made notable inroads into shifting the attitude towards this is Richard Branson. Virgin Airlines has been pushed to ‘try and take on as many convicts as possible’ with Branson defending this approach to take on those whom others might not, saying “I made some mistakes.

I could easily have spent time in prison myself over importing records and not paying tax. Then I would have had great difficulty finding a job. Virgin might never have happened and the 60,000 people we now employ might not have had jobs. So I’m sympathetic from a human viewpoint.”

To reinforce Branson’s view on reformed criminals, the National Employment Screening website details that a study performed at Carnegie Mellon University showed that after 5 years ‘clean’ living, someone with a criminal record was at no greater risk of committing another crime than someone of the same age who did not have a record.

So next time when someone ticks ‘Yes’ in the criminal convictions box, perhaps take the time to find out more, rather than throwing their CV in the trash.