Disclosing Your Conviction

Offender disclosing his convictions to a potential employer

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 outlaws discrimination against ex-offenders.  It is intended to help people with few and/or minor convictions.  People with many or serious convictions will probably not benefit from the Act because their rehabilitation period will usually be longer.

Certain criminal convictions are ‘spent’ (forgotten) after a rehabilitation period.  This period varies according to the offender.  For people aged 18 or over when convicted:

  • Some fines, discharges and some Community Orders become spent after five years
  • Prison sentences up to six months become spent after seven years
  • Prison sentences up to two and a half years become spent after ten years
  • Sentences over two and a half years are never spent

You don’t need to disclose spent convictions when applying for most jobs.  Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the grounds of a spent conviction.  However, some types of jobs are exempt from this Act – this means you have to disclose spent convictions as well as unspent ones.  These jobs include:

  • Working with children and vulnerable adults, such as elderly and disabled people
  • Senior roles in banking and the financial services industry
  • Certain posts connected to law enforcement, including the judiciary and the police
  • Work involving national security
  • Certain posts in the prison service
  • Certain professions in areas such as health, pharmacy and the law
  • Private security work

For more information about disclosing your conviction to employers, please speak to your offender manager, or visit the National Careers Service website.