A recent research study by Unlock has revealed that one in five employers are asking candidates for information they are not legally entitled to.

Unlock, a charity for people with convictions, have revealed that despite their Ban the Box campaign being a huge success with major companies such as Virgin Trains and Barclays having already signed up, three quarters of national companies continue to ask candidates about criminal convictions at the application stage.

It has been a longstanding practice for companies to enquire about a candidates’ criminal record as a way of deselecting applicants.  Although the recent Ban the Box campaign has proved to be a positive initiative, not enough companies are removing criminal record questions from their application forms.

The Rehabilitation Act states that it is unlawful to gather information about spent convictions and cautions and by asking for information that they are legally obliged to ignore, employers could be breaching the Data Protection Act 2018. An Unlock survey has also cited that 80 per cent of employers who asked about criminal records provided no guidance to applicants.

A plethora of candidates choose not to apply for certain job roles because they would have to declare their criminal record and assume their application would be immediately discounted.

Unlock have spoken to employers who are open about their inclusive recruitment practices and they all report a positive impact deeming these employees ‘reliable, hardworking and loyal’.

The charity is advocating a change in employer behaviour, but they have asserted that if not enough progress is made from Ban the Box campaign, the only way to ensure all candidates gain equal opportunities is on a statutory basis.

Business in the Community (BITC), who lead Ban the Box campaign in conjunction with Unlock, believe that the charity’s work to unearth the recruitment practices of UK companies illustrate the inconsistency and prejudice that comes to managing risk around criminal convictions.

Jessica Rose, manager for the Ban the Box campaign, said: ‘employers need to implement Ban the Box, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it will benefit their business and their communities’.

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