A spent conviction refers to any offence or issued warning which, as determined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, is not supposed to be considered by employers during their hiring process. These particular convictions are classified as ‘spent’ once a specified amount of time has lapsed since the incident occurred.
How Long Does It Take For a Conviction to be Spent?
The time that must pass before eligible convictions are deemed to be spent and can no longer form part of the employer’s decision-making process depends on the length of sentence served. So, rather than the nature of the criminal offence determining how long convictions can influence an individual’s employment prospects, the duration of the custodial sentence itself determines this.
Do Spent Convictions Appear in DBS Checks?
As employers are no longer supposed to take these convictions into account, spent convictions will not appear in basic disclosure checks. A basic DBS check is the least detailed level of criminal background check available in the United Kingdom. However, it is also the type that most employers will be permitted to request on behalf of prospective employers.
Standard and enhanced DBS checks are usually only attained in relation to candidates who apply for roles that would involve working with children and vulnerable young people. Even with these more detailed DBS checks, an employer can only question you about convictions and cautions if they are not protected by the DBS filtering process.
Do I Have to Disclose a Spent Conviction if Prompted?
But what about when an application for a new job asks you if you have been dismissed from a previous role? Or what if the job application form requests that all applicants disclose any disciplinary action that has been taken against them in previous roles?
Section 4(2) of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act actually helps to address such an issue.
‘The person questioned shall not be subjected to any liability or otherwise prejudiced in law by reason of any failure to acknowledge or disclose a spent conviction or any circumstances ancillary to a spent conviction in his answer to the question’.
So, the legislation states that there is no obligation to mention any spent convictions or to discuss situations which would then lead you to reveal, or your prospective employer to assume, a spent conviction has occurred.
If therefore, describing the disciplinary action or dismissal would result in also revealing the existence of the spent conviction, then you are not obligated to discuss what happened in your previous workplace.
For further guidance regarding the types of DBS checks and how to arrange a DBS check for your prospective employees, please contact us today.