Spent/Unspent Convictions and Employment Law

We have had several calls recently from Managers recently who have interviewed a candidate and the DBS check has come back with a conviction (spent or unspent) and we have been asked the question whether to employ or not employ.

Spent convictions are those convictions that have reached a set period as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, and are removed from an individual’s criminal record. Unspent convictions are those records that have not yet reached this defined time and will appear on a Basic DBS check.

Having a criminal record does not automatically preclude candidates from seeking or securing employment in the health and social care worker. Many roles are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and require Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks which will disclose all convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings which are not protected, along with other relevant information which the police feel ought to be disclosed. Employers are entitled to take this information into account when determining suitability for a role.

Some things you might want to consider when assessing candidates with spent and unspent convictions.

  • Whether the information requested was disclosed
  • Nature of the offence
  • Degree of risk posed to clients
  • Age at the time of offence
  • Age of offence
  • Relevancy of the offence
  • Seriousness of the offence
  • Whether there is a pattern of offending
  • Circumstances of the offence and whether the applicant’s circumstances have changed
  • Evidence of good character
  • Commitment to upholding the trust and confidence of patients/clients

We would advise that you speak to the potential candidate about the offences, ensure that you have a full DBS check and at least two (or more) references as well as carrying out any necessary risk assessments.

Each case will be slightly different and individual so we would advise that you should call us on each occasion.

Should you have any questions feel free to reach out to our help line. DLP advisors are available to answer any questions you may have at 0330 400 4495.


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