Disclosure and Barring: Reforms to rehabilitation periods for offenders

20 March 2014

Reforms which will reduce the period during which certain convictions need to be disclosed to potential employers came into effect on 10 March 2014.

HR Bullets provides a very good summary of the changes to Rehabilitation Periods:

Reforms which will reduce the period during which certain convictions need to be disclosed to potential employers will come into effect on 10 March 2014. But those applying to work in sensitive workplaces will continue to have to disclose previous convictions.

Legislation in this area was introduced 40 years ago - the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 - with the aim of preventing ex-offenders who have not re-offended for a significant period of time from being denied access to jobs purely on the basis of their past criminal convictions. The general scheme of the Act is that an ex-offender who has not re-offended for a specific length of will be considered ‘rehabilitated’, and the ex-offender will be entitled to present him or herself to employers as if he or she had never been convicted in the first place. Over the years, an ever-increasing list of occupations have been excluded from the scope of the Act via Exceptions Orders, and applicants/employees in such occupations must disclose unprotected cautions and convictions, regardless of whether they are ‘spent’ or ‘unspent’.

This reform probably represents one of the most significant revisions to the legislation since its inception: it was first mooted two years ago. The changes are part of the government’s plan to reduce re-offending by helping offenders get back into ‘honest work’.

Under the new system, rehabilitation periods for community orders and custodial sentences will comprise the period of the sentence plus an additional specified period, rather than all rehabilitation periods starting from the date of conviction as is currently the case. So, for an example, an adult offender sentenced to two and a half years custody, who would previously have had to declare their criminal conviction for ten years from the date of conviction, will now have to disclose their conviction for the period of the sentence plus a further four years (giving a total rehabilitation period of six and a half years). Follow this link to view the new rehabilitation periods.

Further information:

The changes are set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

The Home Office has also issued updated guidance which details information for employers (the last 3 pages) and also includes a list of general types of employment that are included in the Exceptions Order.