Are there any advantages to disclosing your criminal record to your jobcentre/work programme advisor?

If you’re not asked about your criminal record then, legally, you don’t need to disclose any unspent convictions, but in our opinion, withholding this information means that your advisor may not be able to provide you with the best information, advice or service.

So, are there any other benefits in choosing to disclose?

The role of the jobcentre advisor is to support you back into employment. They will often have a good idea of the recruitment practices of local companies and how ‘friendly’ they are towards people with convictions. If your advisor has a good understanding of any potential problems you face in getting back into work (for example, an unspent conviction), they’ll be better placed to help you. You could even use this as an opportunity to test out your disclosure technique on your advisor.

Some companies have blanket bans on recruiting people with any unspent convictions, some ban people with certain types of offence. Failing the criminal record criteria isn’t going to secure you a job with these types of employers but, if you’ve not disclosed your conviction to your advisor and they believe you’ve got the relevant skills and experience, they’ll expect you to apply.

What if your conviction is spent?

For many jobs, you don’t need to disclose spent convictions. If these are the jobs you’re focusing on, you could choose to make that clear to your advisor in terms of your job search.

Some jobs, for example a cleaner in a school, are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and mean that you’ll need to disclose both spent and unspent convictions (unless it’s filtered). If you’re not comfortable in disclosing a spent conviction then, providing they know about it, your advisor can steer you away from applying for these types of jobs.

What else should you think about?

By voluntarily disclosing your criminal record, you’re placing a lot of trust in your advisor. However all advisors are bound by job centre confidentiality policies and the Data Protection Act.

Most advisors will welcome your honesty – it will make their job much easier and will hopefully help you both to establish a good working relationship.

If you choose to disclose your spent conviction and you’re only applying for jobs covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, make sure that your advisor knows that it’s for information purposes only and that there are only certain jobs where you’d need to disclose it.

For more information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on our support getting into worklooking for (and keeping) employment and volunteering and disclosing to employers sections.
  2. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.
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Debbie Sadler