Certain convictions are deemed “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 after the following periods of time (known as the “rehabilitation period” – the period is halved where the offender was under 18 at the point they were convicted) and accordingly, do not need to be disclosed to potential employers:-
- Imprisonment: 2½ years or more – Never
- Preventative detention – Never
- Detention for life at Her Majesties Pleasure - Never
- Imprisonment: less than 2½ years but more than 6 months – 10 years
- Imprisonment: less than 6 months – 7 years
- Fines – 5 years
- Armed Forces: dismissal with disgrace – 10 years
- Armed Forces: dismissal – 7 years
- Armed Forces: detention re conviction – 5 years
- Borstal – 7 years
- Detention: less than 2½ years but more than 6 months – 5 years
- Detention: less than 6 months – 3 years
- Probation – 5 years
- Mental Health Act Hospital Order – 2 years post cessation of order or 5 years, whichever is the longer
- Absolute discharge – 6 months
- Conditional discharge – 1 year post conviction or 1 year post cessation of order, whichever is the longer
- Probation order - 1 year post conviction or 1 year post cessation of order, whichever is the longer
- Binding over - 1 year post conviction or 1 year post cessation of order, whichever is the longer
- Care order - 1 year post conviction or 1 year post cessation of order, whichever is the longer
- Supervision order - 1 year post conviction or 1 year post cessation of order, whichever is the longer
- Disqualification – the period of disqualification
When considering the above, the following also needs to be taken into account:-
- A new conviction will have no bearing upon the rehabilitation period of an unspent conviction unless it is a more serious offence, in which case the unspent conviction will only become spent once the new conviction is spent if later than it otherwise would have become spent.
- A conviction incapable of becoming spent also renders earlier unspent convictions incapable of becoming spent.
- Two plus prison sentences handed down simultaneously by a court: if sentences concurrent, then treated separately with individual rehabilitation periods. However, if consecutive, then single term with one rehabilitation period.
- In the following jobs, spent convictions must be disclosed: certain roles in the financial services sector, law enforcement, the prison service, the health service, private security, etc. Also, roles involving work with children, the elderly, and disabled.
Should you have more than 1 year’s continuous service with an employer and you are dismissed as a result of a spent conviction, then you can bring a claim for unfair dismissal.