What’s this all about?
Work Coaches do such amazing work helping individuals find employment and Offploy are embarking on an exciting project to help Work Coaches with the necessary tools to adequately support their customers who have criminal convictions, as supporting them in finding employment can be slightly more complex.
To make this project easily accessible and comprehensive, there will be all sorts of content looking at the three main steps to supporting customers who have a criminal conviction. The first step is to IDENTIFY the criminal conviction and to understand it, then to SUPPORT the individual and finally to be an ADVOCATE for them. This initial piece will focus on the ‘identify’; in essence, the first important step.
Why is this project needed?
As most employers will ask a candidate to disclose if they have a criminal conviction upon application for a role, it is imperative that Work Coaches know how to properly approach this.
First thing to do is acknowledge is that it is OK as a Work Coach to feel uneasy and unsure about how to approach this situation, but they should also know that the individual with the criminal conviction is most likely also feeling the same way.
It is not an easy situation to be in for the customer but by
identifying the conviction
supporting the individual
eventually advocating for them, we can ensure that finding employment is not a barrier for individuals with criminal convictions. Especially, because gaining employment is a vital step to reintegrating into society.
What counts as a criminal conviction?
So, what is a criminal conviction?
When thinking of the term criminal conviction it can be natural for our minds to jump straight to the worst possible outcome. A criminal conviction can be anything from speeding points to an imprisonable offence.
Speeding points are a non-recordable criminal offence and remain on the database for 5 years after the conviction.
Driving-related offences account for approximately 54% of criminal convictions.
The relevance of criminal convictions for different employers will vary for lots of different reasons and this project will look at customers disclosing or not disclosing a previous criminal conviction to a potential employer, but any sentence given for 4 years or more must always be declared when asked by employers. This does not have to be the be all and end all though.
What indicates a criminal conviction on a CV?
A question that might spring to mind is, could this customer’s barrier to employment be due to a criminal conviction? This seems like a simple question, but it is the starting point. There are a few reasons as to why a Work Coach may pick up on cues that a customer may have a previous criminal conviction.
One might be that there is a large gap on their CV which could possibly be because of imprisonment.
They may have qualifications from the following institutions which are key providers of education to those imprisoned;
Milton Keynes College and
The customer may also be quite straight up about their conviction and disclose to you before you even ask
How would I identify if someone has a criminal conviction?
Before we get into the relevance of criminal convictions and what to do with them. It is important to understand how to identify when someone has a criminal conviction. Like the old saying goes, honesty is the best policy, and the best approach is to just directly ask the individual if they have any previous criminal convictions.
This approach would be better than being suspicious and asking questions with a different intent behind them. It is probable that the customer is expecting the question to be asked as most people are aware that criminal convictions unfortunately hinder many aspects of being a functioning member of society; employment, being one of these.
As a Work Coach, if you happened to observe that the customer seems uneasy and uncomfortable, why not offer them a private consultation room where you could both talk openly and honestly?
Asking the question...
How to physically ask the question can be another step that understandably makes people uncomfortable.
Do not over-think this, a simple approach like:
‘Do you have any previous criminal convictions?’
‘I recognise that criminal convictions can be a barrier to securing employment, do you think this may be a barrier for you?’
It is important to remember after asking the question that the Work Coach does not need to be concerned with the details of the criminal offence, the criminal conviction does not need to be explored.
What needs to be explored are the barriers that the criminal conviction produces. Keeping the focus on the barriers rather than the criminal act itself will help ensure that the customer feels supported in their journey and not further scrutinised.
Do I need to do anything if a customer does disclose a criminal conviction to me?
Technically, you do not need to take any action if someone does disclose a criminal conviction to you. If you think that as a result of the criminal conviction the customer is under a supervision order you can consult with your MAPPA lead. You could refer the customer to the work and health programme provider immediately as customers with convictions are considered a priority group.