Telling employers about your conviction

After a certain amount of time (known as a ‘rehabilitation period’) you do not need to tell potential employers about most crimes you’ve committed in the past.

Rehabilitation periods

The length of your rehabilitation period depends on how long you were in prison or young offender institution, or what sort of punishment you got. After that, your crime (also known as your ‘conviction’) is ‘spent’. This means you do not need to tell anyone about it.

Before your conviction is spent, you only have to tell the employer about your past crime if they ask you.

You were 18 or over when found guilty in court

Prison sentence Rehabilitation period (from end of sentence)
6 months or less 2 years
Between 6 months and 30 months 4 years
Between 30 months and 4 years 7 years
More than 4 years Conviction is never spent
Other punishments Rehabilitation period (from end of sentence)
Community order (such as unpaid work) 1 year
Fine 1 year (from date of conviction)
Absolute discharge (you were not given a punishment) None

You were under 18 when found guilty in court

Sentence Rehabilitation period (from end of sentence)
6 months or less 18 months
Between 6 months and 30 months 2 years
Between 30 months and 4 years 3.5 years
More than 4 years Conviction is never spent
Other punishments Rehabilitation period (from end of sentence)
Community order (such as unpaid work) 6 months
Fine 1 year (from date of conviction)
Absolute discharge (you were not given a punishment) None

There are different rehabilitation periods in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Cautions

Simple cautions become spent immediately. Conditional cautions become spent after 3 months.

When employers still need to know about your conviction

You usually do not need to tell a potential employer about your conviction once it is spent.

You’ll have to tell your them if your sentence was more than 4 years long.

Some jobs, such as locksmith, lawyer and teacher, require a criminal record check (these used to be called CRB checks). Your potential employer should tell you if they need to do this.

The ‘standard’ and ‘enhanced’ criminal record check will show an employer your past crimes, even if they’re spent. If you’re not suitable for a job because of a spent conviction or caution, the employer can withdraw a job offer.

It’s against the law to refuse someone a job because they’ve got a spent conviction or caution, unless it’s because a DBS (criminal record) check shows that they’re unsuitable.

Employing ex-offenders

Employers interested in offering training and employment to ex-offenders, can register with the Ministry of Justice to find out more.