Having been in his job for a year, Colin was horrified to learn that his employers were going to be carrying out an ineligible criminal record check which would have disclosed his spent conviction. Read how Colin kept his job and got his employers to change their recruitment practices.
I’d been working for about a year as a driver taking doctors who were working for an ‘out-of-hours’ service to their appointments when, out of the blue, I was asked to go into work early for my next shift as I had to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) application form. My heart sank as I knew that if my employers did an enhanced DBS check it would disclose my spent conviction and I would almost certainly lose my job.
Like a lot of people with a conviction, I was really embarrassed and ashamed about it and my confidence had reached an all-time low. At one point, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to hold down a job such was my anxiety about the past.
I eventually mustered the courage to telephone my employer and asked in a very roundabout way whether the DBS check they were going to complete would be an enhanced one, hoping of course that they’d say ‘No’. Sadly they confirmed my worst fears – it would be enhanced.
The next time I went into work, I was asked whether I’d brought in my ID documents for the DBS check and I pretended that I’d left them at home. I was trying to buy myself more time but the HR Manager told me that if I didn’t bring them along to my next shift then I’d be unable to work.
So, the following week, off I went to complete the online DBS form with the office administrator. When we got to the section about convictions, I really didn’t know what to do but thought that honesty was the best policy and answered ‘Yes’, explaining to the administrator that my conviction was now spent. When we’d finished filling in the form the admin guy told me not to worry, that everything would be okay and to get on with my shift.
However, the next time I went into work, I was summoned to a meeting with my manager and asked to explain the spent conviction which I’d revealed whilst filling in the DBS form. I was asked about the nature of the conviction and when I refused to go into detail I was threatened with suspension. I was confused, embarrassed and unsure how to proceed but eventually I told him everything, whereupon he explained that he’d have to investigate the matter further and that I would be suspended whilst this took place.
I wasn’t a member of any union and I wasn’t sure whether I had any employment rights. Searching the internet, I came across an organisation called Unlock who, I immediately contacted for some advice. They told me that an enhanced DBS check may be ineligible for the job that I’d be doing and they explained that I could challenge this through the DBS. I sent an email off to the DBS straight away and with renewed confidence, also sent an email to my employer setting out why I thought an enhanced check was ineligible.
I heard back from my company very quickly and asked to attend a meeting with a senior manager. Although he was very understanding he maintained that my role would need an enhanced DBS check as it was often necessary for drivers to go into people’s houses to act as a chaperone. I explained that I’d never been asked to act as a chaperone but even if I had, I would always be with the doctor and never alone with the patient.
I’d clearly given the manager a lot to think about as he told me that he’d have to seek further information. When he did eventually get back to me, he told me that having sought independent advice he now appreciated that my job would only require a basic DBS check and that he was happy for me to return to work immediately.
Although I initially found it quite difficult to challenge my employer, the advice and support I was given by Unlock gave me the confidence to do it. If I hadn’t stood up for myself, I’m sure I would have lost my job which would have been yet another knock to my confidence. My employers have now changed their recruiting policy and state that they will only carry out basic checks for my type of job. I’m delighted that as a result of my challenge, future employees with spent convictions won’t have to worry about disclosing and being judged.
By Colin (name changed to protect identity)
A comment from Unlock
We see many examples of employers looking to conduct incorrect levels of criminal record check on their employees. This can lead to individuals having job offers revoked or even losing their job. If you believe that an employer is trying to carry out an ineligible check, we would always recommend that you challenge it through the Disclosure and Barring Service. As Colin’s story shows, successfully challenging these checks will not only benefit the individual but can make a difference to all future employees.
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- Policy work – Read about the work Unlock is doing on stopping unlawful/ineligible DBS check