Firms urged not to check for convictions

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Councillor Nick Small

Councillor Nick Small urges employers to give criminals a second chance

Employers in Liverpool are being urged not to routinely check job candidates’ criminal records in an attempt to help more people get into work.

In many cases, convictions may be irrelevant, yet applicants will still be discriminated against and therefore lose an opportunity to gain employment, those arguing for the new regime say.

Labour Councillor Nick Small, the city council’s cabinet member for employment, enterprise and skills, said the council is supporting the Ban the Box campaign, which looks to give people a second chance by removing the tick box from application forms that asks about criminal convictions.

Everyone who receives a fine from the courts will have to tick the ‘criminal convictions’ box present on most application forms giving them a direct disadvantage in the choice process, campaigners say.

Small told JMU Journalism: “If you don’t have the box on the application form they will be able to interest the employer with their skills and knowledge. One of the biggest biases is that people who have criminal record have trouble getting back into the job market because of their past.”

He said he is currently finding out whether Liverpool City Council itself has such boxes on their job application forms.

Small continued: “It is right that employers do background checks on their potential employees, but ex-offenders who’ve served their sentence should be able to rehabilitate themselves by getting back to work.

“Businesses should still check applicant’s criminal convections but at a later stage therefore allowing all applicants an equal opportunity.”

Research suggests that three-quarters of employers use a criminal conviction as a reason to skip over an applicant.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of unemployed people in the North West for the three months to August stood at 294,000 up by 24,000 on the three months to May.

Video report by Lauren Percy, JMU Journalism TV

About Jade Masri, JMU Journalism