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Must I tell employers about my criminal record?

When I was younger I got into trouble with the police. I'm applying for jobs now and I'm worried my conviction will stop me getting work. Do I have to tell employers about my criminal record?

The information that you have to give will depends on the length and type of sentence that you received and the job that you are applying for. You will always have to declare a prison sentence or an equivalent period of youth detention or custody of more than two and a half years (in England and Wales, four years) if you are asked about your criminal record by an employer. This applies to a suspended or partially suspended sentence too.

You will also always have to declare any conviction if you are applying for a job where you are working with children or vulnerable adults. For example, you will have to declare all convictions if you are applying to teach, work in the healthcare sector, work as a childminder, or as a social worker.

However, if you are not working with children or vulnerable people, there are some offences that you do not have to declare after a certain period of time has passed. If your conviction falls into this category the conviction is considered to be spent and does not have to be declared even if an employer asks you directly about your criminal record. This fixed period is known as a rehabilitation period. The length of the rehabilitation period depends on the sentence that you received rather than the type of offence that you committed. Some will be spent more quickly than others.

In England and Wales, you can also use the online calculator at www.disclosurecalculator.org.uk to work out if your criminal record has become spent.

For more information about rehabilitation periods in Scotland, go to the website of Apex Scotland, an organisation that aims to improve the employment prospects of offenders and ex offenders, at: www.apexscotalnd.org.uk.

For more information about declaring a criminal record when you want to work with children or vulnerable adults, in England and Wales, go to the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk. In Scotland, go to the website of Disclosure Scotland at www.disclosurescotland.co.uk.

If you wish to challenge the information in a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate in England and Wales, you can do so by going to the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk. You should do so within three months of the issue of the certificate. In Scotland, go to the Disclosure Scotland website at www.disclosurescotland.co.uk.

In Northern Ireland criminal history record checks are carried out by AccessNI. For more information go to their website at www.nidirect.gov.uk.

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