Looking for friendly employers


A criminal conviction doesn’t have to be the end of your career but many people with convictions feel anxious about disclosing details of their past fearing that they will be judged and discriminated against.

For many people, knowing that an employer is ‘friendly’ towards people with convictions helps them to apply for jobs with more confidence.

That’s why we’ve developed this page to go on top on the information we have about disclosing to employers.

On this page, we’ve identified a number of employers who, either as a result of their recruitment process or company ethics, have a positive attitude towards people with convictions.

However, please note – you shouldn’t limit yourself to only applying to these companies as we know from our work there are loads of employers that regularly recruit people with convictions, it’s just that they simply don’t shout from the rooftops about it.

Employers ‘banning the box’ and improving their recruitment process

Many employers consider individuals with convictions on merit and take steps to encourage applications from people with convictions.  However, it is important to remember that this doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed a job.

In order to try and ensure individuals get the most positive start to their applications, a number of companies have signed up to the Ban The Box campaign. This calls on UK employers to create a fair opportunity for people with convictions to compete for jobs by removing the tick box from application forms and asking about criminal convictions later in the recruitment process.

Employers who have signed up to the Ban the Box campaign:-

  • Do not request information about unspent criminal convictions on application forms
  • Examine their own recruitment policies and practices to identify how positive disclosure of criminal convictions can take place later in the process
  • Register their commitment to offering fair opportunities for people with convictions on the Ban the Box website

There is a regularly updated list of companies that have signed up to Ban the Box here.

Places to look for friendly employers

As more employers recognise the advantages of having more fully inclusive recruitment policies, there may be other employers not included on this page. Other places to look for ‘friendly employers’ are:-

Ban the Box is a national campaign (led by Business in the Community, and supported by Unlock and others) which calls on UK employers to create a fair opportunity for people with convictions to compete for jobs by removing the tick box from application forms and asking about criminal convictions later in the recruitment process.

Employers Forum for Reducing Reoffending (EFFRR) is a membership organisation for employers who agree to recruit people with convictions.  As part of their membership regulations they have to agree to supply data regarding the number of  people with convictions that they employ and also commit to support the wider recruitment of people with convictions.

Clean Sheet employers agree to actively consider applications from Clean Sheet members, by assessing their suitability for a role equally with other candidates.

Companies recruiting from the community

Do you know of others we could add to this list? Let us know

The following are some well-known ‘friendly’ employers that are known to recruit people with convictions from the community.

Alliance Boots initially recruited 10 people with convictions into warehouse roles but have since recruited people with convictions across all areas of their work. They were one of the founder members of the ‘Ban the Box’ campaign.

Blue Sky Development is a social enterprise which offer jobs only to people with convictions.

Camden Garden Centre offer opportunities to older people, women returning to work, people with convictions, people living with mental health problems, homeless people and those recovering from drug or alcohol addictions.

Carillion is one of the UK’s largest support services companies, a major construction contractor, one of the top three suppliers of mechanical and electrical engineering and the largest independent energy services company. They are the largest employer of young apprentices in the UK construction sector, many of whom have criminal convictions.

Compass Group have involvement in food services, healthcare, education and sport and leisure. They offer opportunities for people with convictions and were part of a group of organisations who wrote an open letter to the Financial Times setting out their positive experiences of recruiting individuals with convictions.

Cook Food Ltd cook and sell frozen ready meals. Job opportunities vary from working in their network of shops, working in their kitchens, delivering food or working as part of their central team keeping everything running.

Co-op are a food retailer, insurance provider, funeral services provider and a growing legal services provider.  They offer employment opportunities to people with convictions, provide financial education within prisons and help those about to be released from prison set up bank accounts.

Costain Group work within the energy, water and transportation industry. Applicants would usually be expected to meet the entry standard for any specific vacancy. However, Costain work with a number of organisations, including the Princes Trust to ensure that opportunities are open to people who may have difficulty in demonstrating that they meet the standards, including people with convictions.

East Coast Trains run high speed passenger services between London, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.  In November 2014 it was announced that Virgin (a well documented supporter of people with convictions – see below) had won the franchise to run East Coast Trains until March 2023.

Enterprise work within the field of car rental and leasing.  They have won many recruitment awards, especially around the recruitment of disadvantaged groups and have solid links with organisations such as Business in the Community and Stonewall.

ESH Group launched a major recruitment drive at the end of 2014 as demand for its construction services grew in the North East, Cumbria and Yorkshire with a commitment to recruit anybody (including people with convictions) who were prepared to ‘buckle down and hit the ground running’.

Home Group provide housing for people with low to medium support needs. They positively encourage applications from people with convictions as a way of demonstrating their commitment to enable people to gain independence and lead a stable life.

Iceland are another retailer who signed an open letter to the Financial Times supporting the recruitment of people with convictions and are a member of the ‘Ban the Box’ campaign.

Interserve are a multi-national support service and construction company.  They employ more than 2500 people with convictions in their UK work force and were a founder member of the ‘Ban the Box’ campaign.

Lend Lease  employees set up a dedicated not-for-profit company called BeOnsite in 2007.  They provide people from excluded groups with industry relevant training and sustained employment within the property industry.

Marks and Spencer have a positive attitude to the recruitment of people with convictions and have publicly stated that ‘the morale and motivation of their existing staff without a criminal record increased following amendments to their recruitment policies to include people with convictions’.

Mitie Group work in conjunction with Mosaic, a mentoring charity, to provide workshops and training which ultimately lead to work placements and paid employment with Mitie.

Pets At Home are another retailer who signed an open letter to the Financial Times supporting the recruitment of people with convictions.

Poundland have been supported by the Shaw Trust to provide employment opportunities for people with convictions.

Ringway set itself a challenge in 2007 to recruit a more diverse workforce and find young people who wanted to enter the transport infrastructure industry.  The recruitment of people with convictions started following a visit to HMP Rochester but now extends to recruitment from the community.

Sainsbury’s state that ‘diversity and inclusion are an integral part of their heritage’ and have for many years had links with the prison service providing opportunities to people in custody and also people with convictions living in the community.

Tesco has a fully inclusive recruitment policy which includes working with the prison service to provide opportunities for people in custody and extends to people living in the community with convictions.

Timpson actively recruit people with convictions, alongside their work in prisons (see below).

“I have been in contact with the Timpson Group with regards to employment. The contact was initially well received and as the Timpson Group actively, overtly, recruit and publicise that they recruit people with criminal records, I did expect this positivity. After a couple of phone calls and several emails, I was asked to disclose my offence and when I did so I received an email back saying that they cannot accept CV’s from people with criminal convictions for sexual offences. I was not allowed in anyway to explain my circumstances or have any face to face discussions at all. I was saddened and I now want others to know that this is their stance so they aren’t surprised by this. It is really sad that a company, that on one level is so open and supportive, take such a singularly blinked view of a whole group and disregard everyone connected to that group without consideration or discussion.”

Trafford Housing Trust has worked in partnership for many years with social enterprise, Clean Start but has more recently outlined its commitment to provide opportunities to people with convictions in the community.

Virgin Group actively encourage the recruitment of people with convictions in the community and those who are still in custody, or working towards release.

Wates Group set up its own independent Community Interest Company, Changing Paths, a scheme helping people with convictions in local communities get back into the workplace.

Companies with links to prisons

There are some employers that have established direct links with prisons. This might first involve offering training or work experience opportunities.

These include:-

Amaryllis Group Holdings works within the facilities management, environmental and manufacturing sector. They provide a programme in prisons offering training in the ‘green’ economy. The programme provides a progression into work opportunities upon release.

Cisco Systems has a programme in place mentoring individuals in HMP Wandsworth and HMP Spring Hill who are studying for the Cisco networking qualification.

DHL Supply Chain work in prisons themselves, allowing prisoners to gain work experience as well as a qualification. Upon release, many gain full time employment with DHL Supply Chain. Note – DHL have a number of business units (including DHL Express) – this reference relates specifically to DHL Supply Chain.

Gelder Group work in partnership with Milton Keynes College to provide construction related training courses in HMP Lincoln.  Completing training through the Gelder Training Academy provides genuine opportunities for employment upon release.

Greggs deliver training courses for people with convictions setting them up with a placement in a shop with a view to being offered a full time position at the end of the training period.

Halfords work in partnership with HMP Onley to provide training and employment opportunities for people in custody.  Upon release, employees can go onto complete a three year technician programme leading to the Institute of Motor Industry NVQ3 and Diploma.

National Grid operate a Young Offender Programme throughout 22 prisons and provide training and employment upon release.  They also act in an agency capacity to meet the recruitment needs of 80 other companies they have links with.

Pret a Manger run an apprenticeship scheme which offers up to 70 places a year to people with convictions and/or the homeless to enable them to access a three month work placement within Pret. Apprenticeships can often lead to a full time job.

Skanska UK offer training placements for people in custody who are in the last 12 months of their sentence.  The training leads to certificates in minimum gas industry standards and individuals are guaranteed employment upon successful completion of the training.

Sue Ryder have been offering volunteering placements in their shops and central offices since 2006 to people with convictions. Many of these individuals go on to secure paid work with the charity.

Timpson employs more prison leavers than any other company in the UK. They provide training workshops in prisons which can train up to 35 apprentices at any one time. Successful applicants will often go on to work in a Timpson shop whilst still in custody and would usually expect to be kept on after release. Timpson help other retailers to employ people with convictions.

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  • saradipidie

    Thanks for all your advice and reference points. I need all the help I can get.

  • John

    I have been convicted and awaiting sentence. One of my biggest worries is getting a job. I am so grateful that there are companies out there willing to give me a chance to improve my situation. I am very appreciative of this website and have added it to my favourites.

  • derick

    same here m8 i dont know hwat employers will employ me

  • Jan Young

    I feel that people should be given a chance, we all make mistakes and make the wrong decision, I did and paying the price, but I really want to move on. I am a good person and never hurt anyone and never will! I wish there was a jobsite that people with convictions can find their for ever job.

  • Billy no mates

    Virgin should be removed from the list.

    Once I told them of my conviction they didn’t take my application any further, I didn’t even get to the interview stage despite being ideally suited and qualified for the job.

  • Billy no mates

    For the Co-op, if you apply for any store role other than manager or supervisor, you have to fill in an application by hand (why can’t it be online or at least a word document!), then take it to the local store, without even knowing if they have a job available. The application has the conviction question. I was convicted of a sex offence, I do not believe this is an appropriate way for my sensitive data to be handled. I have no confidence this would be kept secure and I fear for my safety. So not really a friendly employer.

  • starlaeuropa

    So basically, me continuing with my degree is a waste of time because of a caution 20 years ago – nice to know that I can only get minimum wage jobs that I’m too disabled to do anyway! What’s the point of even trying? 🙁

  • chas

    Billy you do well to make it known, so maybe in future I’ll avoid Co-Op. I don’t understand why any employer would expect you to do an application in that way. You may as well put an ad in the paper about your offences. It worries me a lot, now I’m having to look for work again, even with some recent work history doing very valuable work to show on the application, that I will be expected to just tell every secretary or jack the lad who just happens to be the one responsible for looking at applications for vacancies in their company. It’s a nightmare as it is, worrying all the time that someone will come along and say to you ‘you’re the one who was in the paper last year aren’t you, I’m going to put it on facebook ‘ I’ve developed some coronary problems recently, probably from all the stress of the last 18 months, which has been horrible.
    Thanks for highlighting it. Chas

  • Billy no mates

    Strike Sainsbury’s off the list: “Due to the nature of the driver role you must not have any unspent criminal convictions. As part of the recruitment process a background check to verify your identity and a Disclosure Barring Service check will be carried out by an authorised third party.” From a role I just tried to apply for. Not like their chief executive is above exploiting tax loopholes to avoid paying his fair tax, that’s not breaking the law…

  • Daisy

    Pets at Home shouldn’t be on this list. Their online application not only has the “box” but asks you to give details of your conviction at the point of application so needless to say I didn’t even get an interview despite being more than qualified to work there!!

  • Hi Billy

    Although Sainsbury’s carry out basic criminal record checks (through Disclosure Scotland) on their delivery drivers, they don’t do checks on other roles within the store and they definitely recruit people with convictions to work in stores. Our local stores in Kent also recruit people who are still in custody from local open prisons. Even though your experience of driving jobs at Sainsbury’s has not been particularly positive, we believe that they should remain on our list of friendly employers on the basis that for other types of job they do take on people with convictions. Wishing you the best of luck in your search.