Employers confident about the skills of people with criminal records - REC
A REC survey shows the confidence employers have in the work skills of people with criminal records, but fears of them reoffending are holding back hiring – despite the UK facing a shortage of labour crisis.
REC interviewed 167 employers to ask about the barriers to their organisation hiring people with prior criminal convictions. The results are published today as part of the REC’s monthly JobsOutlook. Respondents were able to choose more than one answer in the survey.
The REC survey shows that two-thirds of surveyed employers have concerns about the safety of existing staff members (66%), while there is apprehension about the potential that new hires would re-offend (60%).
But just 32% of respondents said they have concerns that a candidate with prior convictions would lack up-to-date skills or experience due to time away from work, and would see this as a barrier to employing them. Furthermore, just 14 per cent of the sample of large employers (with 250 or more employees) who took part in the survey, are concerned that candidates with prior convictions may lack up-to-date skills or experience due to time away from work.
Kate Shoesmith, REC Deputy Chief Executive, said:
“Employers should aim to give people a chance, based on merit. It will help lessen unemployment among people with a criminal record and help a UK economy that stands to lose up to £39 billion in GDP every year unless we deal with labour shortages.
“Opening recruitment up to people with a criminal record may lessen the time a role is vacant, and reduce the work pressure on existing members of staff. It gives people with a criminal record a chance to start afresh with a shared purpose with others and some structure in daily life which may lessen any temptation to reoffend. While employers may have concerns about re-offending, it is worth remembering that there are about 12 million people with criminal records in the UK, many of whom did not go to prison.”
REC’s survey also found confusion around whether candidates need to disclose their convictions based on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, and how this applies to their organisation (40%).
Kate Shoesmith said:
“Employers need better information on how to hire and the workplace benefits of hiring people with convictions, which includes working with organisations that can advise them, provide tailored guidance and training for their staff. Recruiters can play a proactive role to promote the advantages of hiring people with a criminal record, and how it may help meet their client’s EDI goals.
“Recruiters are well placed to encourage employers to be as open as possible by raising awareness of inclusive recruitment initiatives such as Ban the Box, so applicants are not put off applying and employers get to recruit from the widest pool of talent.”
The data were weighted to be representative of UK adults in employment by region, broad industry sector and public/private split. In relation to hiring people with a criminal record, REC’s survey shows that employers in the North of England are more concerned about the safety of staff members and re-offending than employers in other regions of the UK. Employers in the North of England are also more confused about whether candidates need to disclose their convictions based on the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, and how this applies to their organisation. Employers in the Devolved Nations and London are the least concerned about people with criminal records re-offending.
Notes to editors:
A further breakdown of the results of this survey is attached in the spreadsheet below.
Due to the small base size, these results should be considered indicative, rather than conclusive. Totals may not sum to 100% due to rounding. Data were weighted to be representative of UK adults in employment by region, broad industry sector and public/private split. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. The survey was conducted between 5 April and 3 May 2023.
For more information and interview enquiries, contact the REC Press Office on 020 7009 2157, 020 7009 2129 or email@example.com. Outside of regular office hours, please call 07702 568 829.
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The REC is the voice of the recruitment industry, speaking up for great recruiters. We drive standards and empower recruitment businesses to build better futures for great candidates and themselves. We are champions of an industry which is fundamental to the strength of the UK economy.
Find out more about the Recruitment & Employment Confederation at www.rec.uk.com.
JobsOutlook Topical Question on people with criminal convictions extra data
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