On 28th October 2023, section 193 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 came into force.  This new legislation reduces the time period before criminal convictions become spent and are no longer legally required to be declared to an employer.

In this article, we will explore why changes have been introduced and how they will affect employers and job seekers with criminal records.

Why have the changes been introduced?

Under the previous rules, some offenders were required to disclose their sentences indefinitely, even for crimes committed decades earlier.  This had a significant impact on their life chances, often preventing them from getting employment.

Now, custodial sentences of four years or more for less serious crimes, become ‘spent’ after a seven-year period of rehabilitation, provided no further offence is committed.

Offenders who have committed serious sexual, violent, or terrorist offences are excluded from these changes to ensure this does not result in an increased risk to the public.

What are the new disclosure periods?

Although time frames and offences that need to be declared can vary, this legislation makes the following changes on declaring custodial convictions:

Custodial Sentence Previous disclosure period New disclosure period
Over 4 years Never spent  7 years*
2 ½ years – 4 years 7 years 4 years
1 year – 2 ½ years 4 years 4 years
6 months – 1 year 4 years 1 year
Up to six months 2 years 1 year

*Certain offences classified in the Sentencing Code as “serious violent, sexual and terrorism offences” are exempt from the changes and never spent.

The above disclosure periods are slightly shortened if the offender was under 18 at the time of their conviction.  A new conviction will have its own disclosure period.

How will job seekers with criminal convictions benefit from the new law?

The changes will immediately impact thousands of people with previously unspent convictions, and many more each year.  It is suggested that approximately 125,000 people sentenced in 2022 alone will benefit from these changes.

The Government believes that the shortened disclosure requirements will improve rehabilitation opportunities and relationships between ex-offenders and employers by eradicating stereotypical views and allowing ex-offenders to have a fairer chance of employment and rebuilding their lives.

What do employers need to do?

Employers will need to make sure they are aware of the changes and be clear of the guidelines on when and how they can inquire about an applicant’s criminal history.  Recruitment and induction processes should be updated to reduce the risk of discrimination claims and ensure compliance with the law.

Contact us for more information or advice

If you are an employer seeking to understand how your business will be affected by the new disclosure rules, then Backhouse Solicitors are here to help.  Contact us today to arrange a free initial consultation with one of our employment law specialists.

Tel:          01245 893400
Email:     info@backhouse-solicitors.co.uk
Visit:       17 Duke Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1JU
Or send us a message through the Contact Us page on this website.