The Rules On Employing Ex-Offenders
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 introduced the concept over 40 years ago that ex-offenders sentenced to less serious penalties should, after a period of time, be considered rehabilitated and not obliged to disclose previous convictions which would be regarded as ‘spent’. The Act also stated that some occupations, for example, those involving working with children, would be exempt from its protection, meaning that even spent convictions for those wishing to undertake such roles would continue to be disclosable.
In March last year the Act was amended so that most convictions now become spent in a shorter period of time. The amendments also increased the number of sentences which could become spent. Exempt occupations (those where convictions were always disclosable) were virtually unchanged by the amendments.
The changes were retrospective, so some ex-offenders who previously would have always had to declare their convictions now don’t have to and others have found their rehabilitation periods reduced. The rehabilitation period is determined by the length of the penalty awarded to the offender by the court and not by the nature of the conviction.