After having a job offer withdrawn after disclosing a conviction, Sam wasn’t put off from applying again for the same job two years later, only this time she was adamant that she’d get a different result.

 

Two years ago I was interviewed for a job with a government department. At the end of the interview I was given a form which asked me to disclose details of any cautions or convictions and, although I was able to provide the facts of my conviction, I wasn’t able to include an actual disclosure statement.

I was delighted to receive a provisional offer and at that stage, I was told that the organisation would be carrying out a formal criminal record check. I wasn’t unduly worried about this as I’d already disclosed my conviction. However, when the DBS certificate came back and I handed it over, the job offer was withdrawn.

Unfortunately, my conviction is one that will never be filtered from standard or enhanced DBS checks because although I have just one conviction, it has two counts. I was 19 at the time and claiming benefits but I’d managed to get some casual shifts in a local hotel. Looking back, I was stupid and naive and I’d only actually worked two shifts when the DWP caught up with me. I paid back all the money I owed them which was approximately £250 and for roughly six months I didn’t know whether I was going to be prosecuted or not.

When I received the court summons, I immediately sought legal advice. My solicitor couldn’t understand why I was being prosecuted, it was a relatively small amount of money and I’d paid it all back. I later found out that many employees at the hotel had been signing on whilst working and the DWP wanted to make an example of everybody. I received a 2-year conditional discharge and £50 costs.

So, despite the ultimately unsuccessful outcome of that first job offer with the government department when I saw the job being advertised again two years later, I decided that I’d reapply. This time round I was asked to disclose any cautions and/or convictions at the provisional offer stage. I was also given the opportunity to submit a full disclosure statement online which I hadn’t been given before.

As soon as I received my DBS certificate, I sent it to the recruitment department along with a hard copy of my disclosure letter. There was no way that I was going down without a fight this time.

I didn’t hear anything for 12 weeks and then, out of the blue, I received a phone call telling me I’d done really well in my application and interview. However, although my conviction was spent, they couldn’t take it lightly as it was for benefit fraud. The lady I spoke to then went on to say:

But as the conviction was almost 30 years ago, we consider you to be low risk and would like to offer you the job.

It was absolutely fantastic news.

I’ve  been in the job for 4 weeks now and really love it. I’m so glad I made the decision to reapply.

By Sam (name changed to protect identity)

 

Comment by Unlock

We believe that Sam’s story reflects some positive changes that this particular government department has made to it’s recruitment practice towards applicants with a criminal record. By not asking about criminal records until the provisional job offer stage, but then at that point having a clear assessment process that puts information into context. This allows proportionate decisions to be made. Sam (and we) rightly question why the conviction still needs to be there after so long, and that’s the focus of our work on challenging the current DBS filtering regime.

 

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