BITC calls for ban on criminal-record tick boxJanuary 2014
The charity Business in the Community (BITC) is calling on UK employers to remove the default criminal-record disclosure tick box from job application forms – as part of its Ban the Box campaign to address the discrimination faced by job-seeking ex-offenders.
According to latest figures 9.2m people – one in five of the population – in the UK have criminal records, yet research suggests that three-quarters of employers admit to using a criminal conviction to discriminate against an applicant, meaning that millions of job seekers are blocked from employment.
Ban the Box, which is backed by high street health and beauty giant Alliance Boots, asks UK employers to stop this discrimination and assess job seekers on their skills and abilities first, rather than excluding them because of an unrelated conviction. Employers can request positive disclosure of unspent criminal convictions as required at a later stage in the application process after the initial skills assessment.
“Ban the Box is about challenging the perception that people with unspent convictions inherently bring exceptional risk as employees,” said Edwina Hughes, campaign manager for reducing re-offending at BITC. “Using the blunt instrument of a tick box, employers reject passionate, skilled employees. That could range from anyone who has received a £300 fine for a driving offence and will have to tick the box for five years, to someone with a prison sentence of more than 2.5 years who has to tick the box for the rest of their life. In the past ten years, no progress has been made on stopping this discrimination in the UK. Now is the time for action.”
“If individuals are diverted away from the trap of re-offending and into employment, they become positive contributors to their local area and the economy,” added Stephen Howard, chief executive of BITC. “The ex-offender population includes a large number of dedicated, motivated and diverse potential employees, who continue to be excluded by blanket screening procedures or put off from applying for roles as they believe ticking the ‘X’ puts them out of the running.”
Marco Pagni, group legal counsel & chief administrative officer, Alliance Boots, commented: “Ban the Box is the right thing for business to do. It allows people to be assessed on their skills and abilities rather than pre-judged on their criminal convictions. By removing a tick box at the first stage of the recruitment process, we are giving people the opportunity to compete for jobs and be assessed alongside all other candidates.”
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